A new emergency drill policy for cruise ships that requires mandatory musters prior to departure from port has been adopted by the global cruise industry. The new policy follows the industry’s announcement three weeks ago of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review.
In an open letter to the travel industry, Christine Duffy, President and Chief Executive of the Cruise Lines International Association, says:
“Key areas of the CLIA’s focus will be:
- Operational Safety Review: As part of the cruise industry’s continuous improvement efforts to review safety measures, CLIA recently announced the launch of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review to respond to maritime safety issues that will be learned from the Concordia incident. The Review will include a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. It will allow for cruise lines to share best practices and procedures for operational safety, consult with independent external experts, and collaborate closely with the International Maritime Organisation, governments and regulatory bodies to efficiently implement necessary changes. All CLIA members along with the Passenger Shipping Association in the UK and the European Cruise Council in Brussels are engaged in this effort.
- New Muster Policy: The industry has instituted a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory musters for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. This new muster drill policy, voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members, exceeds current legal requirements, which mandate a muster of passengers occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation. This is the first best practice to emerge from the industry’s Operational Safety Review, and recommendations will be made on an ongoing basis.
- Public Communications: Public interest and concern about the Costa Concordia incident has been understandably high. People seek better understanding about how and why the accident happened and reassurance that cruising is still safe. From day one, we have made communication a high priority – making information and technical experts available to the media, public officials, industry partners and the public generally. We have responded to literally hundreds of inquiries so far, and will continue to do so.
“Amid all of this activity and interest lies one central question: are cruise ships safe? The answer is resoundingly yes. Evidence clearly shows that compared to virtually any other form of mass recreation or travel, cruises are one of the safest activities around. In the five years before the Concordia incident, over 100 million people took a cruise, with 16 casualties worldwide due to marine accident or collision. The cruise industry takes safety very seriously, and often goes well beyond the substantial international and national regulatory requirements.
“While we are proud of our record of safety, it does nothing to minimise our deep anguish over the casualties of the Concordia. As a global industry, we are focusing our efforts on preventing such an occurrence from ever happening again.
“Our number one priority remains the safety and security of our passengers and crews, and, as new developments occur in this pursuit, we pledge to keep you updated and informed.”