Created on: February 14, 2013
Cruising is a very popular vacation choice – for many, its appeal is a relaxing holiday with food and entertainment on tap, along with organised shore trips. Unfortunately, the cruise ship industry hasn’t always had the best publicity. Most notably in recent years, in January 2012, the Costa Concordia ran aground and capsized, resulting in the death of 32 people. That particular incident was put down to human error; an accident that could have been avoided had the captain not taken his passengers’ lives into his own hands.
The Concordia deaths, although not forgotten, have nevertheless not had a huge impact on the cruise ship industry, because holidaymakers presumed it was a one-off incident and that the industry would set guidelines in place to ensure that there was no potential for a repeat accident. As recent mishaps show, however, there are still a number of issues, some avoidable, some purely accidental, that have cast a shadow on the perceived safety of cruise ship holidays.
A February 10 Telegraph article reports the deaths of five crew members during a safety drill on board the Thomson Majesty, which was in port at La Palma, in Spain’s Canary Islands. Another three crew members were injured during the accident, which involved the breakage of one of the winches in the process of lowering a lifeboat, causing the lifeboat to plummet into the sea. Tragically, the safety drill was being carried out in response to the Concordia incident, when staff members didn’t know how to properly carry out a lifeboat rescue manoeuvre. The Telegraph suggests that lifeboats should be more rigorously checked to ensure that they are fully capable of coping with any emergencies.
In another, separate incident, hundreds of passengers were left stranded as a result of a fire in the engine room on board the Carnival Triumph, which was about 150 miles off the coast of Mexico when the accident occurred. Fortunately, no-one was killed or even injured, but the ship was left without propulsion. The 3,143 passengers and 1,086 crew members were then left adrift while arrangements were made for tugboats to tow the ship to shore. That, however, was the least of their worries – there were issues with little running water, toilet facilities and even food shortages. The cruise line has promised to refund, or give cruise credit, to all passengers to the value of the cost of the cruise.
Those were just two of the more serious mishaps that have befallen the cruise ship industry recently. For those interested, Cruise Junkie provides more information on events at sea.
It is, of course, important to keep things in perspective; ultimately, there are relatively few deaths during cruises compared to other forms of transport. Travelreadymd.com points out that only about 200 people die yearly on board cruise ships, whereas there are 1000 deaths a year as a result of airplane incidents and a massive 25,000 deaths in the US alone as a result of automobile accidents. However, the website recommends that any passengers on board a cruise ship should take responsibility for their own safety rather than rely on crew members for assistance – which involves attending safety drills and knowing where lifeboats and other safety equipment are stored. That should provide peace of mind for anyone thinking about going on a cruise.
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