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Costa Concordia owner offers refunds, but gets low marks for response

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Public relations experts have chastised Carnival for being slow to address the disaster and vague about its response and efforts to prevent similar incidents in the future.

On a scale of one to 10, with 10 being "outstanding," Carnival's public relations strategy in the immediate wake of the disaster gets a four, said Allyson Stewart-Allen, director of International Marketing Partners, a consulting firm.

"It wasn't quick, it wasn't specific, it wasn't reassuring," Stewart-Allen said, noting that Carnival's first statement, released on Saturday nearly 24 hours after the Costa Concordia liner struck rock causing it to capsize, did not quote a specific person.

Subsequent statements on Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday quoted Arison, who has been in continuous contact with executives in Italy, but has not flown there himself.

Arison, who also owns the Miami Heat NBA team, has written six messages on Twitter mentioning the tragedy, but Evan Nierman, founder of Florida public relations firm Red Banyan Group, said that was not enough.

"If he's the point person, I would want a constant flow of information - Twitter, Facebook, talking to reporters, letting them know what's going on. I would have him out there in a real way. He needs to be in front of cameras, he needs to be meeting with people, he needs to show that he's in charge of the situation."

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