Cruise Industry Tightens Safety Rules

Trade groups adopt new policies after costa Tragedy

In the wake of the Jan. 13 foundering of the Costa Concordia cruise ship, which took the lives of 32 passengers and crew, several key cruise organizations have taken measures to bolster safety and standardize emergency procedures for the industry.

Earlier this year, members of the Fort Lauderdale-based Cruise Lines International Association, the European Cruise Council in Brussels and the London-based Passenger Shipping Association adopted a new mandatory muster policy requiring emergency drills for passengers to take place prior to departure from port. The mandate replaced existing legal edicts, which required drills to be held within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.

Last month, CLIA and the ECC adopted two additional safety policies: the Nationality of Passengers policy, which stipulates that the nationality of each passenger onboard a cruise ship be recorded and made readily available to search-and-rescue personnel in the event of an emergency; and the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions policy, through which member cruise lines of both associations have specified 12 common elements to be communicated to passengers during muster drills and emergency instructions. The 12 elements are:

• When and how to don life jackets;

• Emergency signals and appropriate responses;

• The location of life jackets;

• Where to muster following an emergency signal;

• How passengers will be accounted for at training drills and real emergency musters;

• How updated information will be communicated to passengers and crew;

• What to expect if the captain orders an evacuation of the ship;

• Additional passenger safety information;

• Instructions on whether passengers should return to cabins prior to mustering, and specific directions on whether they should gather medications, clothing and life jackets;

• Important safety systems/features;

• Emergency routing systems and emergency exits, and

• Who to seek out for additional information.

Following the adoption of the latest measures, Christine Duffy, CLIA's president and CEO, said, "Our industry continues to actively identify a range of measures that will improve the safety of passengers and crew, which is the top priority of the cruise industry. We are fully committed to continuous improvement in shipboard operations and safety. We are taking a holistic look at safety, as has been evidenced by the breadth and scope of the numerous policies that have been developed and adopted this year."