Trip Doctor: Cruise Safety Update
Silversea's luxury expedition ship, Silver Explorer, was damaged by heavy weather during a recent Antarctic cruise, causing the ship to return early to port in Ushuaia, Argentina, and cancel its Jan. 21 sailing, the company said this week. No injuries were reported among the 133 passengers, according to Silversea; four of the 113 crew members were treated for onboard for injuries.
Though all passengers appear to be safe, the incident—along with the Jan. 13 anniversary of the Costa Concordia shipwreck off the coast of Italy—brings cruise safety top of mind.
Since the Concordia capsized a year ago, both the cruise industry and individual cruise lines have reviewed and revamped safety procedures. Among the changes:
• All cruise ships will now hold a safety drill prior to leaving port. Previously they were required to do so within 24 hours of embarkation—a factor that could have impacted the Concordia shipwreck. Some passengers reported they had not yet undergone a safety drill prior to the incident.
• Access to a ship's bridge is now limited to essential personnel during delicate and restricted maneuvers. The Concordia captain reportedly had a guest on the bridge during the period prior to the incident.
Other safety procedures involve secure stowage for heavy objects, unifying bridge procedures across a company's fleet, and increasing the number of life jackets stowed near lifeboats and muster stations.
Statistically speaking, cruise ships accidents resulting in death are very rare—so rare that, according to polls, most veteran cruisers consider the Concordia shipwreck a tragic anomaly. Cruise lines and cruisers hope the new safety practices will eliminate such incidents altogether.
Jane Wooldridge is Travel + Leisure's Cruise Editor.