Cruise bookings haven’t dropped since the Costa Concordia capsized off the coast of Italy last week, an industry executive said, while calling for a review of safety procedures.
There has been no reduction in activity so far since the Jan. 13 grounding that killed at least 11 people and left 20 passengers and crew missing, Christine Duffy, president and chief executive officer of the Cruise Lines International Association, said at a briefing in London today.
Duffy said large cruise ships are safe and called for a review of regulations by the International Maritime Organization following the investigation into the accident that led the 290-meter (951 feet) Costa Concordia carrying 4,200 passengers and crew to run aground.
“It’s quite easy to jump to the conclusion that big ships, with a large number of passengers and crew, are by definition riskier,” said Alan Massey, chief executive officer of the U.K. Maritime and Coastguard Agency. “Safety standards have kept pace” with bigger ships and stability standards are the same as on smaller vessels.
Bigger ships may have safety advantages by offering larger platforms to organize evacuations, capacity to store life jackets directly on deck at emergency assembly points and more powerful rescue boats, the association said.
Drills Before Departure
The cruise industry might implement rules after the disaster to require passengers to take part in emergency drills before a ship leaves port, said Bill Wright, a safety and maritime expert for the cruise association and former captain of one of the world’s largest cruise ships, Royal Carribbean Cruises Ltd.’s “Oasis of the Seas.”
The Concordia’s captain, Francesco Schettino, was placed under house arrest on Jan. 17 for allegedly causing the shipwreck and abandoning the ship, court documents show.
No international law requires a captain to leave the ship last, though a “myth” has become an expectation, Massey said.
“As a professional captain I find it very hard to understand what circumstances might have led this captain to decide to leave his vessel,” Wright said. Under some circumstances, including loss of communications, it may make sense for a captain to direct a rescue operation from a nearby vessel though “moving yourself from a ship to a rocky island doesn’t seem to offer that advantage,” he added.
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