This morning at a packed media briefing on the safety of cruising held by Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), key representatives from the industry answered questions, and, not surprisingly, were eager to quash any rising fears in the wake of the Costa Concordia tragedy.
The takeaway? Despite recent events, seafaring travelers have little reason to worry. According to Michael Crye, Executive Vice President of CLIA, between 2005 and 2011 the industry carried 100 million passengers, with 16 fatal maritime casualties. While 16 is far too many, in this less-than-perfect world that number is astoundingly low. The percentage of risk is minimal: broken down, the number implies a one in 6,250,000 chance of passenger casualty per year (that’s far less than the odds of getting struck by lightning in any given year, according to the National Weather Service).
Still, the International Maritime Organization (an arm of the United Nations with 170 member countries) is reviewing all safety practices immediately. A few items up for consideration:
• Should safety drills for passengers be legally required to take place before departure, as they are on airplanes?
• Should captains, who must currently confirm any change in course with their entire bridge crew, also check that intended change with someone on land?
• Should captains, by law, go down with the ship? (Currently, there is no basis in international law that says that’s the case, according to Sir Allen Massey, Chief Executive of the UK’s Maritime and Coastguard Agency).
Inquiries have already begun. As Christine Duffy, President and CEO of CLIA, put it, “This was a very rare incident, but the industry is already looking at initiatives and reviewing procedures. All is subject to scrutiny.”
Kathryn O’Shea-Evans is an Associate Editor at Travel + Leisure.