Allure of the Seas Leaves Lifeboat in Nassau

Allure of the Seas LifeboatThere's an interesting comment on the popular on line cruise community Cruise Critic that the Allure of the Seas left Nassau 2 hours late yesterday because of an issue with the lift cable of lifeboat number 1. According to this passenger, the cable to the lifeboat apparently snapped and needs repair.

The issue arises whether there are sufficient lifeboats for all of the passengers and, if not, whether the cruise line has obtained a waiver from the flag state (the Bahamas).

There seems to be some suggestion floated out there that the Allure has more lifeboats than necessary.

I have written about  the lifesaving systems on the Allure and the Oasis before: Titanic Redux? Can Royal Caribbean Safely Evacuate 8,500 Passengers & Crew from the Oasis of the Seas? 

Royal Caribbean says that it normally has 18 lifeboats which each carry 370 people for a total of 6,660 passengers. (Crew members have to slide down chutes into liferafts). So with only 17 lifeboats aboard, the cruise ship has a capacity of 6,290.  How many passengers are on board now? Wikipedia says that the Allure has a maximum capacity of 6,296. 

One person commented on Cruise Critic that the capacity of 370 includes 16 crew assigned to each boat, so it actually carries 354 passengers. With only 17 lifeboats, there is room for only 6,018 passengers.

I'd hate to see an emergency and a problem develop with another lifeboat.

Has Royal Caribbean issued a statement about this?

Have a thought? Please join the discussion on Facebook.

December 11 2013 Update: Cruise Critic just published an article pointing out that Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas was sailing without one of its lifeboats after a pulley malfunctioned in Cabo. Cruise Critic obtained a quote from a Royal Caribbean spokesperson claiming that the Allure of the Seas is permitted to sail with a lifeboat missing because ""we had enough safety crafts for everyone onboard the ship . . . Our ships carry extra lifesaving vessels at all times."  Unfortunately, the cruise line's comments are vague. It refers to life "crafts" but does not specify whether it has enough life "boats" for the passengers versus life "rafts" which are used for the crew and which you have to enter by jumping down a 60 foot chute, which is dangerous.  What exactly is the number of passengers currently aboard the Allure?

A number of people have left comments on our Facebook page saying "no big deal" because the passengers can just jump down a chute into a raft if a lifeboat or two are missing. Take a look below and ask yourself whether you or your family want to do this.  We have also reported on 20 crew members being seriously injured jumping down one of these type of chutes.

   

Photo Credit: anglofiles.com

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Comments (9) Read through and enter the discussion with the form at the end
Leonardo - December 10, 2013 10:41 PM

There are enough spare life rafts.

Ian Moores - December 11, 2013 12:00 PM

Jim. The Allure would not be permitted to sail without Flag State permission if the lifeboat required maintenance ashore. Flag would consider the risk and the total capacity of life saving equipment onboard before issuing any non-compliance. It really is not a big deal and happens frequently around the world. Companies are regularly in contact with their Flag State and both parties know the regulations. The ship will have considered alternative arrangements in any emergency and would have proven that capability. There is no need to be so concerned.

Jim Walker - December 11, 2013 2:07 PM

Thanks for the comments, but don't be naive. Royal Caribbean obtained a modification of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) to build gigantic lifeboats to hold 370 people in first place. When one breaks, the cruise line gets a waiver to sail without all lifeboats. Flag state Bahamas will do whatever its master wants.

Adam Coe - December 11, 2013 8:09 PM

Every major cruise ship carries many (often double or more) extra life rafts, for use in case one or more of the life boats cannot be used. For example, if the ship is listing to one side far enough, the *entire side* of lifeboats cannot be launched. This is a wildly rare scenario, but it is possible. In that case, these extra rafts can be launched in a number of different ways depending on the situation. Also, the chute that you refer to that the crew use is not "jumped" down at all, it's rather more like climbed down (the walls are a semi-rigid material that hug the person as they make their way) and are not as dangerous as they appear from the outside. Any evacuation procedure is dangerous, including boarding a lifeboat of any size. Sailing with one lifeboat missing for a short time happens with some regularity and while obviously less than ideal, is really not a cause for alarm.

Jim Walker - December 11, 2013 8:34 PM

Adam:

You are an employee of Carnival Cruise Line and you should disclose that fact.

Regarding your comments, many of the lifeboat canisters are on the side of the ship so if the ship lists heavily to one side (hardly rare) neither the canisters nor the lifeboats can be deployed. The chutes and rafts are for the crew, at least that's what Royal Caribbean says, so if you are envisioning passengers jumping down the chutes because there is a lifeboat shortage (and oh yes they definitely jump not wiggle as you suggest) then you are dealing with an extremely dangerous situation. Far more dangerous than it appears from the outside.

Sailing with one less lifeboat places the ship at a critical point and places the passengers and crew in needless peril.

"Less than ideal" is an understatement. Is this really how all cruise lines operate, even Carnival? Sadly I believe at least that much.

There was no official announcement by Royal Caribbean about this problem which was revealed only by a casual comment on Cruise Critic after the ship sailed. Comments like yours just further reveal the lack of transparency demonstrated by the major cruise lines, including Carnival.

John Goldsmith - December 12, 2013 9:23 AM

Have we learned nothing in 100 years???

Edward Nigma - December 12, 2013 2:15 PM

Stop nitpicking, whether it's a craft, raft, or boat as long as there is something in case of an emergency i don't think most people would care. These rafts are the same one the US Navy uses, if it's safe for our troops it's safe for me.

Jim Walker - December 12, 2013 3:01 PM

Mr. Nigma (Enigma?):

When people leave comments on my blog, they automatically leave their internet provider (IP) address. Your IP address indicates that you sent your message from Royal Caribbean's corporate headquarters here in Miami. Don't you think that you should have revealed that?

Regarding your comments macho man, I'm sure you'd like to jump down a 60 foot chute acting like Rambo. But I don't think that 70 year old grandmothers or little kids would like that. They would be terrified and they would risk broken ankles, hips and necks.

Royal Caribbean's Adam Goldstein touted the ship as having a "holistic" approach to life safe saving equipment where passengers are boarded into life boats, not into rafts that our Navy Seals use when they jump out of helicopters in combat zones.

Its a shame that your cruise line engages in this fraud, and then tries to come on here anonymously to post comments.

Jim Walker

Debbie - December 17, 2013 3:38 PM

I was on the Allure last week when the lifeboat had to be left in Nassau and I really have to say that the Captain really did a great job of keeping all of us passengers informed every step of the way what was going on and we got compensation credited to our seapass account without having to say anything. One thing we have to remember is that sometimes things just happen through no one's fault. That being said I sure hope they got the extended warrenty on the ship as so many things seem to be going wrong with it so early on.

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