The Costa Concordia tragedy has increased awareness of shipboard safety and the extent to which cruise lines train and prepare personnel to respond to emergencies. Despite this disaster that cost so many lives and destroyed this beautiful ship, a series of recent articles describe how much safer cruising is compared to any other form of recreational travel. The cruise industry experiences only .16 fatalities per million passengers. That means it is hundreds of times more likely a cruise passenger will die traveling to the port than while on the ship. [Source: GP Wild (International) LTD http://www.gpwild.co.uk/].
Cruise lines regard passenger safety as paramount. The ships are constructed with redundant safety systems and designed to contain problems that may arise. Every crew member is assigned a task for each emergency and drilled frequently so that crisis response will be predictable and automatic. After cruising multiple times each year since 1980 my observations are that cruise line personnel take the safety of the passengers seriously and they have consistently demonstrated competency in handling emergencies. My observations and conclusions are based in large part on my own experience in onboard training and safety issues after serving on both conventional and nuclear powered submarines in the United States Navy.
The cruise industry has grown at the incredible average rate of 7% per year since 1980 because it is safe – and fun for adults and children. The growth has been consistent during good economic conditions and bad. That trend is likely to continue because cruise vacations are economical, romantic, and one of the best ways to enjoy time with family and friends. The cruise industry is betting on the growth. Despite 18 new ships in the last four years, there are 16 more planned for the next four years. The increased capacity is needed to accommodate increase in demand from the almost 80% of the population that has yet to experience the joy of cruising.