Costa Cruise Line’s recent disaster has many wondering if cruise ships are safe. Blame for the terrible and avoidable accident has been squarely blamed on Captain Francesco Schettino – a captain with the cruise line since 2006. This tragedy could have and should have been avoided by simply following company protocols. Schettino’s decision, for whatever reason, to deviate from pre-programmed routing put the 951-foot Concordia far too close to Italy’s Giglio Island. After hitting a submerged reef the captain steered the ship toward shore but failed again to follow proper safety procedure and protocol. Schettino’s complete lack of procedure, common sense and poor leadership led to his cowardly act of abandoning ship long before his guests.
While this disaster points squarely at this captain, aka “Captain Coward” it should not reflect on the hundreds of excellent captains who regularly pilot their cruise ships safely throughout the world. Carnival Corporation owns Costa Cruise Lines and will no doubt have a say in future safety protocols and back up plans in the event of an emergency.
On a recent back-to-back cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty, my wife and I went through a safety drill before leaving the dock on each seven day cruise. Some passengers hate these drills but they are mandatory and familiarize passengers with their muster station. The muster station is where you should report in the event an abandon ship order is given. Reports from passengers of the Concordia say they did not have a muster drill before leaving port. Once again, this indicates poor leadership and bad safety procedures by one man, Captain Schettino.
While in port during our recent Carnival Cruise, the captain of the Liberty conducted several safety drills for his crew which included lowering the lifeboats. This drill took place when guests were ashore enjoying their “port time.” The efficiency of the drill impressed me, as crew members methodically went through the safety drill. These drills keep crew members practiced on safety procedures and help to ensure each lifeboat works properly.
More than 100 passengers have joined a lawsuit to be filed in the U.S. and Italy against Costa Cruises. These passengers are reportedly asking for more than one million each, which seems unreasonable to me unless they were injured. Yes, this was a horrific accident, but should passengers who made it safely to shore receive one million dollars each? I don’t think so. Costa Cruises says they will give a full refund to passengers aboard the Concordia and will offer 30 percent off future cruises if they stay loyal to the brand. This too seems a bit unreasonable to me. In the end the lawyers and the courts will decide these claims and lawsuits. Costa Cruises will also pay for all valuables and personal items lost during the disaster.
The question remains, “Are cruise ships safe?”
Without question I believe cruise ships are safe and will be safer as a result of this avoidable accident.Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world and has the ability to effect change in safety policies and procedures throughout the industry. My wife and I will continue cruising and have already planned a Trans Atlantic cruise with Carnival Cruises.
Cruise Ships are safe and one of the most fun and affordable vacations in the world. We should not condemn Costa Cruises or an entire industry because of the mistakes of one captain.
About the author: John L. Beath holds a United States Coast Guard Master’s License, has gone through numerous boating safety courses and is a freelance writer focusing on the outdoors, travel and cruising. His website is www.MyTravelTastes.com
Captains with Carnival Corporation have modern, sophisticated bridges with high-tech electronics. There’s always more than one officer on the bridge and the captain is ALWAYS close by in case of emergency.
The captain of the Carnival Liberty shows the port wing station where the captain can dock the ship and look straight down through the Plexiglas floor.
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