Swamped from a tide of bad publicity following the Costa Concordia disaster, the cruise industry today announced a change to its safety drill policy. The new policy? Hold your breath:
All cruise lines will begin to provide a safety briefing to the passengers before the vessel sets sail.
That’s it? Why wasn’t this the law a hundred years ago, after the Titanic sank?
This should convince even the most hard core cruise fan that there is something seriously amiss in the world of cruising when almost a month after the Concordia disaster, the cruise lines have finally proposed such a basic safety policy.
This should also reveal how lax the policies are under the International Maritime Organization ("IMO"). The IMO rules (suggestions I say) suggest that cruise ships can wait up to 24 hours after passengers embark to hold a safety briefing. It’s difficult to justify such an unsafe policy which undoubtedly caused or contributed to deaths of some of the Concordia passengers. But what can you expect from an United Nations organization?
The cruise industry has announced this simple common-sense policy with great fanfare. USA Today’s pro-cruise blog CruiseBlog quotes a cruise agent praising the new policy which was revealed in a joint statement by the Cruise Lines International Association, the European Cruise Council and the UK"s Passenger Shipping Association.
Notwithstanding the new cruise line voluntary policy, the IMO "rules" still permit waiting until 24 hours to have a muster drill. And if the cruise lines don’t follow their own voluntary agreement? There is no consequence.
Just what the public needs, a trust-us promise from an unregulated cruise industry which should not be trusted.