Israeli-American owners of Carnival Cruises lose half a billion on Italy shipwreck

Floating barriers are pulled behind a boat to prevent pollution from the stricken cruise ship Costa Concordia from reaching the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on January 18, 2012.
Credit: Tullio M. Puglia

JERUSALEM — A little-discussed factoid of the Costa Concordia calamity off the Tuscan coast: Carnival Cruises, the cruise ship’s parent company, is owned by one of Israel’s richest families.

Carnival Cruises is owned by the Israeli-American Arison clan. The shipping company was founded by its Tel Aviv-born patriarch, the late Ted Arison, and its CEO is Micky Arison, his Miami-based son. His daughter, Shari Arison is Israel’s richest woman.

The disaster has already claimed 11 lives, and 23 passengers of the 4,000 aboard when the luxury cruise liner ran into coastal reefs remain missing.

Blame for the shipwreck is increasingly being laid at the side of Captain Francesco Schettino, who abandoned ship with hundreds of passengers still on board and refused Coast Guard orders to re-board and coordinate the rescue, saying that “it is dark” and he couldn’t see. According to Italian media, he now faces up to 15 years in jail.

Even before Schettino, who has been accused of piloting the vessel “as if it were a Ferrari” and sailing it far too close to the island of Giglio in order to show off its sleek lines, the Arisons have had a bad few months.

With a $5.9 billion fortune, Micky Arison was listed as the 169th richest person in the world by Forbes World Billionaires last March, but since then he lost a very public legal battle with his sister ($5.1 billion) and was forced to sell her his share of Arison Holdings Ltd. (

Micky is owner of the Miami Heat, the US basketball franchise. Shari is a principal owner of Israel’s Bank HaPoalim.

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