Is cruising any safer, 12 months after the Costa Concordia tragedy?

//Is cruising any safer, 12 months after the Costa Concordia tragedy?

Apologies for the lack of updates this week. There have been too many distractions – and too little internet – in the Caribbean. Back to regular action next week. In the meantime, here’s an extended version of my column from the print edition of the Daily Mirror, published January 12.
A year after it ran aground, the huge hulk of Costa Concordia still lies stricken off the Italian coast and a stark reminder of the 32 lives which were lost in the worst cruise ship disaster for decades.
On Sunday, services were held on Costa’s ships throughout the world and a two-hour mass took place on the island of Giglio, where a commemorative plaque was unveiled on a harbour wall. The boulder which had been embedded in the ship’s hull has been returned to the sea, with the names of the 32 dead engraved on it.
Salvage work will continue throughout the summer to right the ship and tow it away to be scrapped.
Captain Francisco Schettino is still awaiting trial for manslaughter and abandoning his ship; lawyers are preparing cases for passengers and crew who plan to sue.
So what HAS changed since the night of Friday 13th January 2012?
Cruise lines have introduced a raft of safety measures, most obvious of which is to insist that muster drills are conducted before a ship departs from port – something that did not happen on Concordia.
Voyage plans – dictating the route a ship will take – must be filed in advance; changes can only be made with the approval of other officers on the bridge, and not at the whim of the captain – which is what is alleged happened on Concordia.
But while some captains have been at pains to assure me that this move will prevent a repeat of the sail-by which took Concordia onto the rocks off the coast of Giglio, others have confided that the practice of ships coming close to shore to salute family, friends or a fellow officer remains endemic.
The dramatic fall in Carnival Corporation’s earnings – down to $93 million in the three months to November 2012, against $217 million in the same period a year earlier – was blamed on the financial situation and the euro crisis as much as on Concordia.
David Dingle, boss of Costa’s sister company, Carnival UK said of the anniversary: “The downside will be to remind everybody about it. The upside is that it is a very good platform to restate our commitment to safety. We have a platform to tell everybody what we have put in place and to reassure people of our deep-seated responsibility to safety.”
Steph Curtin, Cruise Development Manager of specialist travel agency, said: “Many experienced cruisers would probably say the tragedy has not put them off taking a cruise, but they now have a new-found respect for safety procedures, and perhaps pay a little more attention than before.
She added that the new safety measures introduced by cruise lines “enabled us to reassure our customers about their concerns; they made the right decision in acting quickly and with a united front.
“The fact that the number of UK cruise passengers increased yet again last year is proof that the industry can now recover.”

By | 2013-01-11T20:51:23+00:00 11 January 2013|Cruise News|0 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.

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