When the Cruise Shipping Miami's "State of the Industry" presentation started yesterday at 9:30 AM, I wondered whether anyone would mention Costa Concordia.
Keynote speaker, David Scowsill,World Travel and Tourism Council President, briefly mentioned the Concordia disaster in passing, saying "despite the tragic cruise ship incident last year" cruising is still "safest" form of transportation.
Holland America Line CEO Stein Kruse was the first to say the words "Costa Concordia" over 1 hour into the CEO's presentation which I quickly noted in a tweet at 10:33 AM. It was one of the few references to reality the entire morning.
All of the CEO's covered the CLIA talking points that cruising was "safe" and the cruise industry is also supposedly "highly regulated." The hyperbole was extraordinary.
Christine Duffy was the first to say that the Triumph fire was "rare." Carnival's President Gerry Cahill then topped her saying: “Something like this is very rare."
NCL's Kevin Sheehan said that cruising was the "safest, safest, safest" vacation option.
RCCL President Adam Goldstein said that the cruise industry was "highly regulated" by the IMO "regulatory scheme." He said words to the effect that he was sure "that no one in the room would dispute that."
Carnival's Cahill added that his cruise line intends to conduct safety audit all of its ships. CLIA would also be performing audits as well.
All of these statements sounded great. But there was little of substance discussed. There were all types of precise statistics presented about the number of new ships, the number of passengers and the revenue generated by the cruise lines. But when it comes to statistics regarding fires and other accidents, the cruise executives offered nothing but their personal opinions.
It was interesting what the cruise execs didn't say rather than the talking points they repeated over and over.
Last year I attended a Congressional hearing where a cruise expert detailed some 79 cruise ship fires between 1990 and the hearing in 2011. I have discussed in this blog that over 10 cruise ship fires occurred since the Splendor. That's 90 fires in 23 years.
That's hardly "rare." The "safest, safest, safest" form of transportation does not catch on fire every 4 months.
Keeping statistics away from the public is how the cruise industry works. Assuring the public that the unregulated cruise industry is allegedly "heavily regulated" is also how the cruise lines work.
Senator Rockefeller presided over the post Concordia safety hearing last year and told the cruise representatives "You Are A World Unto Yourselves." There is simply no real oversight by the U.S. over foreign flagged cruise ships.
Carnival's Cahill promised that his cruise line would police itself with its own safety audits. But what he didn't say was whether the audits will ever be released to the public.
Trust me, they will never see the light of day.
Cahill also said that Carnival "learned its lesson" after the Splendor fire in 2010. But he didn't say what lesson Carnival learned. He also didn't mention that the country of Panama, where Carnival registered the Splendor to avoid income tax, has still not even released a report about the investigation into the fire which occurred over two years ago. What lesson can be learned if the official report into the fire has still not been released at this late date?
Does anyone really think that the audits by Carnival and CLIA about the Triumph last month will ever be shared with the public when there is no public report about the Splendor which caught on fire 28 months ago?
Until the cruise industry truly falls under the scrutiny of U.S. federal regulators and there is transparency in releasing statistical information and accident investigation reports, all we will hear at the state-of-the-industry presentations are more and more self-serving opinions of an industry which is a world unto itself.