The Costa Concordia luxury cruise liner, which ran aground off the coast of Italy on Friday, was described by its owners as a floating 'temple of fun' dedicated to entertainment and well-being.

Like the similarly ill-fated Titanic, the 17-deck Concordia had its own superlatives: at the time the largest liner ever built in Italy and the flagship of the fleet operated by Costa, Europe's largest cruise company.

But it was also regarded as a cursed ship by superstitious Italian sailors, after the champagne bottle failed to smash when it was thrown against the hull for its christening ceremony. The accident, which occurred on Friday the 13th, was not the first involving the Concordia.

In November 2008, as it was entering port in the Sicilian city of Palermo it was hit by large waves, causing damage to its bow, although no casualties were reported.

The futuristic liner, which stretches the length of three football pitches, was on a seven-day cruise in the Mediterranean when it ran aground off the Tuscan island of Giglio with more than 4,200 people onboard.

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