From “superstorms” to mega disasters, 2012 was, by all accounts, an eventful year. The Chinese left their homeland in record numbers, and the United States opened its arms to catch them with its first-ever tourism campaign. All the while, we became a world of more than 1 billion travelers but questioned who would pay the price for our growing carbon footprint.

Several nations emerged from the Arab Spring, while a continent away another nation awakening from years of isolation became so popular it choked on its success. We came together for the London Olympics but were surprised to find a ghost town. We embraced the darker side of tourism, but were surprised to find something appalling lurking in the Andaman Islands. There was a two-headed monster of a storm that stranded millions and a massive ship that sank in a year when we were meant to honor the Titanic.

Photo Credit: A general view of the capsized cruise liner Costa Concordia surrounded by cranes, near the harbour of Giglio Porto. Max Rossi / Reuters