Is it safe to cruise?
On Friday, January 13, Costa Concordia (owned by Carnival Cruise Lines) ran into rocks off the coast of the Italian Island of Giglio. It quickly began taking on water and capsized early Saturday morning. The accident resurrects memories of the sinking of the Titanic and has been called one of the worst cruise ship disasters in modern times.
If you're considering a cruise or have already booked, you're not alone if you're questioning the safety of cruising. And it's a fair question to ask. Have cruise lines gotten lazy with safety procedures? Have passengers?
GoGirlfriend will be cruising this winter and we'll be paying close attention to safety procedures. While there's so much about this accident that points to mismanaged and sloppy emergency procedures, we think it's wrong to let one incident taint an entire industry.
Would you cruise after this disaster?
An opinion tracking website, SodaHead.com, asked readers whether they would now be less likely to cruise. Of those who responded, 25% said yes, 52% said no and 22% said they were not planning to cruise in the first place. Cruise experts across the web are weighing in as well, forcing the cruise industry to take everything about this disaster seriously.
"This is a wake-up call for Costa, most particularly, but also for any line that has slacked off on the nautical rulebook (not to mention those passengers - and we all know one - who brag about evading the muster drill). It's a wake-up call as well for maritime certification organizations, who deem ships and staff procedures in order. And it's our own alert, too. All cruisers shoulder some responsibility for cruising safely."
"Still, no matter how many safety and training protocols are in place, the image of a submerged Costa Concordia will stay burned in people's minds when they decide if they're going to take a cruise, said Jonathan Bricker, a psychologist at the University of Washington. To prevent any decline in bookings, the cruise industry will have to communicate how safe cruising actually is, he added."
"When you have 4,000 people, I think you're looking for trouble - an accident waiting to happen," said Francine Dumont, a travel agent at Plaza Travel in Encino who books mostly cruises. She cites crowd panic and, in the case of the Concordia, the confusion of announcements in multiple languages. She said smaller ships tend to attract seasoned passengers who take the drills seriously, rather than "drinking, chittering-chattering and taking pictures of themselves in their life jackets."
"The last thing the industry wants is a disaster like this," says Peter Wild. "So they make tremendous efforts to avoid any such events." He notes cruise lines have a better record than airlines, in terms of deaths per million passengers. The industry will work hard, he says, to learn from its mistakes.
What's your opinion on cruising after this cruise disaster? Will what happened off the coast of Italy affect whether or not you book a cruise this year?