Cruise companies take new safety regulations on board
SAFETY is paramount for travellers, so a timely review of cruise industry protocols, which has led to new mustering procedures, should help address concerns since the Costa Concordia accident in January.
The unthinkable happened when this modern liner struck rocks off the coast of Italy in apparently calm weather, leaving 25 dead and seven missing. At the time of the disaster, there were about 3000 passengers on board, including 23 Australians.
The nature of the event, still under investigation, has led to various reviews.
Last week international cruise industry members, including Australian representatives, met in Miami for their annual conference. Christine Duffy, president and CEO of the Cruise Lines International Association, says, ‘‘Simply put, safety is our highest priority.’’
The association is keen to maintain some balance in the wake of the tragedy, with figures showing that before the Concordia accident there were only 28 deaths on member lines between 2002 and 2011, and 22 of the fatalities involved crew members. During that period, about 223 million passengers and crew cruised the world.
Since February, new policy has been enacted voluntarily by cruise lines after an operational review in response to the Concordia accident. Embarking passengers must now take part in an emergency drill before leaving port, rather than within 24 hours of boarding, as has hitherto been the case.
Some issues, such as potential language barriers in emergency situations, still need to be properly addressed across the broader travel industry.
Safety is costly, timeconsuming and not closely aligned to company profits.
Rapid technological changes in modern transport — the construction of larger, faster and flashier ships, aircraft and trains — can mean safety protocols are reactive rather than proactive as industry bodies strive to keep up with change.