Earlier this week I wrote an article about a 4 year old boy who almost drowned in a pool on the Disney Fantasy cruise ship.
I advocated having a lifeguard at every pool on a cruise ship, especially on Disney ships which cater to families with kids. Lifeguards are needed because parents are not perfect, and there is a tendency for parents to let their guards down when they are on vacation. And why shouldn't Disney do it? Like Carnival, Disney pays no U.S. taxes on its enormous cruise revenues by registering its ship overseas. It has money to burn.
Disney also claims that it trains over 1,000 lifeguards each year for its resorts and cruise ships.
Kids deserve to have their parents and the cruise line working together to keep them safe.
A few people agreed, but most were quick to blame if not condemn the parents of the child who was pulled from the pool. The comments on my Facebook page were harsh.
Today I received a nice email from a concerned cruiser. She makes some good points, which Disney should consider:
My family and I disembarked from the Disney Fantasy in Cape Canaveral on Sat March 30. While we had a terrific time, I was saddened to hear that a 4 year old boy nearly drowned getting on that ship just hours later. That news has pretty much spoiled my good memories because I have trouble bearing to reminisce about my good time in the midst of another’s tragedy. My prayers are with the boy and his family.
While on our 7 day Eastern Caribbean cruise aboard the Fantasy (Mar 23 to 30), I noticed that the pool areas where extremely chaotic and in my opinion an accident just waiting to happen. The design of the “Donald Pool” where the boy nearly drowned is what I would consider unsafe. The pool is over 5 feet deep but has very small width and length. It cannot accommodate the number of kids on the ship safely without kids being jumped on and kicked in the head etc. Also, because of the very small length and width compared to depth, there is not enough room around the edges for parents to adequately supervise the children. When my kids were swimming I had a very difficult time finding any room around the pool to watch them. I tried to get into the pool with my children and the lack of room in the pool resulted in my being jumped on, kicked in the face, etc. Also, the perimeter of the pool has a shallow area that pushes parental seating (and therefore supervision) even further away and obstructs the view of the children in the deep water.
In addition, there is a gigantic screen TV showing Disney movies that easily diverts people’s attentions.
There are a very limited number of deck chairs around the pools but these are inadequate to allow supervision of the children and often only serve to block the view of other adults relocated to being further back away from the pool due to its design. I was very uncomfortable that Disney had no lifeguards at the pool but they had more than one person coming around to the deck chairs asking if you would like an alcoholic drink.
Finally, Disney in most of its show’s encourages adults to relax and allow their kids to roam the ship unattended. In fact one of the comics that they have in their shows makes a joke about parents not letting kids out of their sight and says “it’s a ship, where can they go”!
The design of the pool, the atmosphere of the ship, the easy access to alcohol and the lack of lifeguards are simply drownings waiting to happen, no matter how vigilant the parents. Unless Disney makes some changes to their procedures, and assumes a better level of corporate responsibility, I unfortunately suspect we will see more drownings on the Disney Fantasy in the years to come.
With deep concern and prayers for all . . ."
April 8, 2013 Update: According to the Orlando Sentinel, the child is struggling with his recovery at the Arnold Palmer Hospital in Orlando.
Photo Credit: USA TODAY