Thursday, March 14, 2013

Is Cruising Safe??

Is Cruising Safe?

            It’s been about a year since the Costa Concordia crashed bringing into question the safety of cruising. Let me start off by saying in general I believe cruising is as safe a way to travel as any other. You must use wisdom in choosing a cruise line as you would use wisdom in choosing an airline.
            The Costa cruise line is part of the Carnival cruise line. Since the Costa Concordia crashed there was another Costa cruise line ship that had mechanical issues at sea and now reports of several Carnival cruise ships with problems. Just a few weeks ago the Carnival Triumph was stuck at sea for days with no power after a ”small” engine fire. They had to be towed to shore by multiple tugboats that took several days to get to them.
            Today the Carnival Dream is stuck at the island of St. Martín in the Caribbean. They’ve lost partial power and several times lights and elevators have stopped working. But according to the Carnival Cruise Line all “hotel services” have continued to function. The ship will be “followed home” for safety. Guests on the ship will be refunded for three days of the cruise and get 50% off of their next Carnival cruise.
            In my opinion this is too many problems for the Carnival/Costa Cruise Lines. Upon further research I found that this cruise line and others often purchase older ships from each other. One of the ships that had problems had been purchased from a different cruise line after having had an engine fire and other issues. Guests have reported being told that these used ships were actually new when they sailed but they say they found conditions “disgusting and unsanitary”.
            According to Maritime Law all cruise ships must have a Life Boat Safety Drill within 24 hours of sailing. The Costa Cruise Line would often put off this drill for as long as possible. When the Concordia sank it was less than 24 hours out of port and there had been no Lifeboat Drill. They had followed the law but how many people would have been saved if they had not just follow the letter of the law but followed the intent and done this drill earlier in the cruise? It could’ve saved panic and therefore lives.
            Reading these reports just confirms my decision to never sail anything other than the Disney Cruise Line. You know what you’re going to get with Disney. You know that all four ships were built for the Disney Cruise Line and you know exactly when each one of them was built and the date it came into service. Disney Cruise Line never sails out of port until after the Lifeboat Drill. Every guest is required to participate in this Lifeboat Drill. I know that on the two Disney cruises I’ve been on besides the mandatory Lifeboat Drill I saw other crew drills for safety.
            Once again I suggest when you cruise no matter what cruise line you choose check their safety records. Also, once again I suggest you consider the time of year you cruise. Obviously hurricane season can be dangerous.
While all cruise ships are equipped with weather monitoring equipment and know where storms are they still need to stay within the area to stay somewhat on track of where your designated itinerary was to take you. They want to get you to as many of your stated Ports of Call as possible. They also want to return you to the port you expected to return to so that you are not inconvenienced getting home or going to your next destination.
You may not be hit directly by the storm but you may get bad weather and big waves. Not all furniture on the ship can be bolted to the floor. (It would be rather hard to sit at a table for dinner if you couldn't pull the chair up.) The rocking and rolling may cause you to fall or make you seasick. If you don’t want to deal with that don’t go during hurricane season. (I choose to not sail during hurricane season.) If you choose to sail during hurricane season I don’t think you have a right to complain much. Expect to get bumped around!
All this boils down to one thing, use wisdom! Choose your cruise line and time of year wisely. Do your research, check your cruise lines safety record. Consider the weather at the time of year you’re going. Will it be too hot or too cold? What are the possibilities of severe weather and storms? And do you mind not being able to go to your planned Ports of Call if the weather keeps you from them?
For me I will cruise Disney any time from December to April in the Caribbean. Again for me, anywhere else I’d sail it is Disney and I will look at the weather for that region before picking the time of year.
So bon voyage my fellow sailors! Do not be afraid to sail! But do choose who you sail with, where and when wisely.

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