In light of the tragic cruise disaster on the Costa Concordia, January 13, 2012, travel agents are asked to assure clients of the safety and advantages of cruising, as opposed to other vacations, or for those first time cruisers who may choose not to go at all. The Costa Concordia is part of Costa Cruises, with Carnival Corporation & plc, being the parent company.
The Costa Concordia left Civitavecchia Italy on route through the Mediterranean Sea to several ports, January 13, 2012. However a few hours into the cruise, the ship went off course at Giglio, Italy, under the command of the captain, Master Francesco Schettino, where the ship hit rocks and tilted. Evacuation of passengers began, and at this date, some passengers and crew are reported still missing, though most have survived. Updates can be found directly with Costa Cruises.
Costa has issued a statement saying in part, “While the investigation is ongoing, preliminary indications are that there may have been significant human error on the part of the ship’s Master, Captain Francesco Schettino, which resulted in these grave consequences.” It is speculated that the ship’s captain, allegedly abandoned the ship, leaving passengers on their own to scramble for safety. Other personnel on the ship are shown telling the passengers to go back to their cabin. There were about 3200 cruise passengers, mainly from Italy and others parts of Europe, and about 1,000 crew members.
The President of the American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA), Nina Meyer, extended the help and thoughts from ASTA for those involved in the cruise ship disaster, stating “On behalf of the travel agent community, we stand ready to assist in any way possible.”She also stressed the fact that these incidents are extremely rare and cruising overall is very safe.
After hearing about a tragic and terrifying nightmare for these cruise passengers, and how they were treated, how does a travel agent convince passengers that cruising is a safe vacation and believing it themselves? Look at the numbers and the safety measures cruise lines must adhere to.
- According to Cruise Market Watch, over 19 million passengers have had safe cruising experiences without incident last year.
- The Cruise Line International Association (CLIA) reports that over 90 million passengers have safely enjoyed cruises over the past two decades.
- CLIA states that safety is their number one priority and they are committed to safe operations of all cruise vessels.
- The cruise industry must comply with International Maritime Organization (IMO) standards governing the operation of cruise vessels around the world. These regulations are closely monitored.
- There are other safety standards from IMO that have been adopted worldwide, such as crew safety training and certifications, plus mandatory safety management codes.
- The U.S. Coast Guard conducted a comprehensive study in 1996 concerning cruise line safety. It concluded that the cruise industry is the safest form of commercial transportation and that international safety initiatives should further improve that record in the future.
- The U.S. Coast Guard examines every new cruise vessel when it enters a U.S. port for the first time.
- The Coast Guard has the authority to correct anything they find necessary before allowing passengers aboard ships.
- Very importantly, the Coast Guard witnesses fire and abandon ship drills conducted by the cruise ship crew, plus they perform tests on onboard safety equipment.
CLIA, IMO, and the U.S. Coast Guard all work together and separately to devise and enforce measures to increase safety for passengers on cruise ships. Overall the cruise lines strive to give their passengers an enjoyable and safe cruising experience. There will always be human error, along with accidents, no matter if it is a cruise line, air traffic, or rail passenger safety. We must rely on these organizations to make cruising as safe as possible.
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