This article written by BusinessWeek (link) about the financial impact of the recent cruise ship accident in Italy is hard to decipher. The title says "Carnival wreck timing may exacerbate loss in cruise business".
I can see two possible causes of such financial losses, based on my reading of the somewhat incoherent piece:
1) This gigantic ship (that carries more than 4,000 passengers) is super-expensive (costs hundreds of millions of dollars), and somehow it is damaged beyond repair, and thus the cruise company would have to refund all of bookings that have been made for the upcoming summer season. This is plausible but is it really true that the ship can't be repaired, or that the company has no backup plans whatsoever, or cannot split the tours into multiple smaller boats, etc.?
2) This accident will cause potential customers to run away to other cruise ship operators, or cancel their cruises altogether because of fearing future accidents.
The second point seems to be implied although it wasn't directly addressed. If people are really cancelling their vacations because of this accident, it is an irrational behavior, similar to avoiding air travel after a crash occurs (something I discussed in Chapter 5 of Numbers Rule Your World.)
I found this website that collects statistics on cruise ship incidents. According to this table, about 10-20 people are "thrown overboard" each year in the last 10 years. So far, 5 people have been found dead and another 15 are missing in this one accident, quite clearly the worst in many years. Each year, almost 20 million passengers worldwide go on cruises, according to this Cruise Market website. The chance of dying from a cruise is really small, and this accident doesn't change this fact.
When the media publishes these articles, its impact is more than reporting irrational behavior. It may also encourage irrational behavior as some readers may take this as advice to cancel their vacations.
PS. Reuters (link) has more complete quotes, and there is no doubt that point 2 above was the intended message, that the cruise industry is thrown into turmoil because of this accident. The bank analyst claimed this is a "PR nightmare", that this may have long-term impact on the "Carnival brand", etc. It can only be a PR nightmare if readers believe these analysts.