It was one year ago on January 13, 2012, that the cruise liner Costa Concordia sank off the Italian island of Giglio after accidentally navigating into rocks. There was no warning—the lights simply went out during the magic show, which was quickly followed by sounds of scraping, the ship tipping to one side, and a panicked and disorderly evacuation. The disaster claimed the lives of 32 people, and even now the ship remains submerged in the ocean. The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, may be indicted on various charges, including manslaughter, negligence, and abandoning the ship before his passengers. Other Concordia crew members and executives may also face trial, though it will definitely take more time before accountability is fully established.
Fortunately, the cruise industry has taken action and reviewed cruise safety policies, enacting changes designed to make cruises safer for both passengers and crew members alike. Since the disaster, cruise ships all over the globe have redoubled their commitment to safety on cruise ships. Nobody wants to repeat the Concordia disaster, which means that routine cruise ship safety measures are no longer taken for granted. Passengers need to pay attention, attend muster drills, and listen to cruise safety instructions.
New cruise safety drills
After Concordia, the new muster rule was established—which means that cruise ship safety drills must be completed before sailing. This is especially important, since at least several hundred passengers on the doomed liner had not attended a muster drill. This was cited as one of the biggest factors behind the panicked and disorderly evacuation.
In addition, 10 new initiatives have been enacted, which include important cruise safety measures such as: restrictions on bridge access, an increase in available life jackets.
Cruise ship passengers can help ensure their own safety by listening to the ship’s crew members Whether it’s the massage therapist, server, or bartender, they are all rigorously trained and knowledgeable when it comes to safety on cruise ships and emergency evacuation procedures. Passengers should not blow off muster drills, since the information being dispensed is always essential during the event of an emergency.
Safety standards and regulations have been standardized for cruise lines all over the world after the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) was formed at the end of 2012. The organization’s focus is to create and update existing cruise ship safety regulations for the cruise industry, in order to ensure a safe traveling experience for everyone involved.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the U.S. Coast Guard also play an important part in regulating cruise safety, since these organizations conduct safety inspections and ensure compliance with the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea. Passengers looking for more information regarding cruise safety records can access CDC reports posted on the CDC web site, or read the Coast Guard incident reports on the U.S. Coast Guard web site.
An important consideration for ensuring passenger safety is for the traveler to practice good hygiene. As always, frequent hand washing with soap and hot water is one of the best defenses against illness. If hand washing is not always possible, infrequent use of over the counter hand sanitizers may be the next best thing (overuse can inadvertently create resistant bacteria).
It can’t be emphasized enough that a little preparedness can go a long way to ensuring a safe and fun vacation. Travelers looking to prevent seasickness would do well to pack ginger candies, Dramamine, and acupressure wristbands into their luggage before boarding the ship. Health forms should be answered honestly, so the crew can take the proper precautions to ensure the health of all boarded passengers.
While there’s no way to undo the Concordia disaster, much can be done to prevent a similar tragedy from happening again. As long as the cruise industry is vigilant and passengers are active participants when it comes to ensuring their own safety, a cruise trip will continue to be one of the safest vacation options a traveler can choose today.