Cruise lines and organizations, including CLIA, announced a new safety policy that requires mandatory muster drills for embarking passengers prior to departure from ports.
CLIA, along with the European Cruise Council and the Passenger Shipping Association, said the new muster policy is effective immediately and has been voluntarily initiated by their member cruise lines.
Addressing instances when passengers arrive onboard after the muster has been completed, the new policy calls for passengers to be “promptly provided with individual or group safety briefings that meet the requirements for musters applicable under the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea.”
Cruise line reassurance
The muster policy follows an industry announcement on Jan. 27 of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia shipwreck on Jan. 13.
Since then, several major cruise lines have emailed customers reassuring them about their safety policies and procedures. (See “Client Reassurance Trickles in From Cruise Lines,” Jan. 26, 2012.)
The most recent safety announcement from an individual cruise line came earlier this month from RCCL, which said it was partnering with Resolve Maritime Academy to deliver a “state-of-the-art” simulator-based safety and navigation training tools for cruise ship personnel.
Beginning the second quarter of 2012, the training will be offered to personnel at all three of Royal Caribbean’s cruise brands – Azamara Club Cruises, Celebrity Cruises and Royal Caribbean International. The trainings will take place at Resolve's new Simulation Training Center in Fort Lauderdale.
Are safety reassurances necessary?
Given the extreme rarity of cruise ship accidents, do travel agents see such reassurances and new policy requirements as necessary?
“Most of my clients, whether new or first time, have no safety concerns. To see the cruise lines step up and enforce stricter controls is good, but really this is a non-issue,” said Lisa Silvestri CTC, ECC, owner, Silvestri Travel, a TRAVELSAVERS agency in Sarasota, Fla.
Among agents who applaud cruise lines efforts is Robert Romano, president of Fugazi Travel, an Ensemble agency in San Francisco.
“I think these (messages of safety reassurance) were very well done. It was an opportunity for the cruise lines to inform you about their procedures,” he said.
“I’m confident that they do meet the safety standards. You would expect this. Why would any cruise line not want to take care of their investment?”
Romano said he expected that, in the wake of the Concordia accident, “people may take the lifejacket drill more seriously now.”
Clients not worried
However, Romano said he had not heard clients express any safety concerns about cruises. “The cruise accident is so rare, and people who take cruises tend to be people who travel in general,” he said.
By contrast, a major airplane crash is something that clients do react to. “In the case of air travel, you have people who only fly when forced to. So if there is an air disaster, their fears are reinforced.”