The Cruise Shipping Miami conference took place this week. It was the first convention held since the cruise ship disasterinvolving the Costa Concordia claimed the lives of 32 people and cast significant doubt on the safety of cruise ships. Thousands of people involved in the cruise industry attended the conference which covered a wide range of topics affecting cruise travel. The discussions naturally turned to the Costa Concordia and the other incidents which drew negative attention to cruise vacations. Those incidents have taken a massive toll on the popularity of cruises and have led the largest cruise operator in the world, Carnival Corp., to cut its profit projections for 2012 by nearly 50 percent.
The industry is touting its past safety record to combat the continued negative press surrounding the capsizing of the Costa Concordia and the company’s treatment of the victims of that disaster and their families. The Concordia wreck has spawned numerous lawsuits, with many more likely to come, as passengers and those who lost loved ones seek redress from the company responsible for their loss. Questions are being raised about the training of crew and the ability of cruise personnel to protect passengers in the event of an emergency. Without answers to those questions, many people have seemingly chosen other ways to spend their vacations. Bookings were down from last year and were considerably behind industry projections.
The Chairman of the Cruise Lines International Association trade group indicated that the lines are implementing large-scale reviews of the safety and emergency response measures, while at the same time repeating the mantra that cruises were already safe. Despite the many questions about the industry as a whole, industry insiders still believe that more people will take cruise vacations in the next year than ever before. Hopefully for those passengers, the mistakes that led to the Concordia crash will be seriously addressed and corrected before they can strike again.
Source: CBS News, “Cruise industry leaders re-emphasize safety,” by Mitch Stacy, 13 March 2012