When the 114,000 GT (gross tonnage) Costa Concordia hit a rock off Giglio Island (Isola del Giglio) on January 13, 2012, the world was watching and wondering how in this day and age a modern cruise ship could produce such a disastrous Titanic-like ending.
How was it that a ship with 1,500 cabins that could accommodate nearly 4,000 passengers and 1,100 crew members did what it did? It certainly wasn’t the ship’s fault that the Captain didn’t properly do his job to ensure the safety of all those on board the ship (3,206 passengers and 1,023 crew members during that cruise). The crumbling wreckage of the Costa Concordia or what is left of the ship has little to do with her construction and more to do with Francesco Schettino’s inability to do his job properly by deciding on his own to make a detour in order to ‘salute’ those on shore. As a result of his poor judgment, including a delay in getting everyone off the ship in a timely manner, 32 people onboard the Costa Concordia perished as the ship capsized.
Now more than 2 1/2 years later, salvage workers have righted the ship and begin the process of moving the ship to her final resting place where she will be dismantled for salvage. If this doesn’t stir up memories as well as concerns, I’m not sure what will.
The question then becomes whether or not the Costa Concordia disaster has affected your decision to cruise. The public should feel more confident with the cruise lines after the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), which represents over 98% of the cruise lines in the United States, initiated a Global Cruise Industry Safety Review after the accident, which identified ten safety related policies that all member cruise lines need to implement by July 2013. A few of these include conducting evacuation or “muster” drills before the ship departs port and additional life jackets in public spaces so no one would have to go back to their cabin to get one. These policies were also adopted as standards by the International Maritime Organization. CLIA also announced in 2013 a “Cruise Industry Passenger Bill of Rights” detailing their members’, the cruise lines, commitment to the safety, comfort and care of guests in a number of important areas.
Having cruised several times myself since the Costa Concordia disaster, I can honestly say I wasn’t concerned before, during, or after each cruise. While I will continue to be bewildered by the lack of interest or attentiveness of fellow passengers during the muster drill, I personally want to know where I need to go should I need to follow emergency procedures. Unfortunately, muster drills are much like every flight I take where no one pays attention to the flight attendants providing safety information that we as passengers should know before we take off. Do I look for and count how far away the nearest exit row is to me on a plane? You bet! Do I also pay attention to the location of my assembly station on a cruise ship where my designated lifeboat is? You bet! While a cruise may be a fun vacation, it doesn’t mean that caution gets thrown to the wind and safety is thrown out the window. While I appreciate and congratulate the cruise lines for working together to improve safety for all passengers onboard cruise ships, it’s also important that I take personal responsibility for my own safety. While these may seem incredibly obvious to some, they may not be to others, but a few include, for example, not sitting on the railing of my balcony or any railing on the ship, not drinking so much alcohol that I might pass out and fall off the ship or succumb to danger (i.e., an attack) while on the ship, and always letting others that I’m traveling with know my whereabouts.
At the end of the day we all want to enjoy our vacation and cruising is a fun, safe, and great way to travel. Don’t let the fruity drink with an umbrella fool you into thinking you’re not on a massive cruise ship. Just like a plane, train, or automobile, accidents can occur and it’s imperative that we understand and follow the safety rules set forth to protect us while we travel. Once you do that, then you can feel confident that you can enjoy your cruise without issue.
Now go forth and travel! Have your feelings about cruising changed and if so, how?