The cruise industry’s trade group, Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), announced two new safety initiatives last week. I was rather amazed when I read what the new proposals involved.
The first policy is what is being called the "Nationality of Passengers" policy. This policy states that each passenger’s nationality should be documented for use by search and rescue personnel in case of an emergency evacuation.
It surprises me that cruise lines don’t already do this. Airlines have kept such international manifests with passenger nationalities listed for decades.
CLIA claims that this is an effort to enhance passenger safety on board cruise liners. I’m not sure how listing passenger’s nationalities leads to safety at all. Perhaps the information helps to identify the dead after disaster strikes.
A second safety procedure touted by CLIA is a list set of 12 "universal" instructions that should be given to passengers at muster drills. These include the most basis instructions to passengers to prepare them for an abandon ship situation after a cruise ship fire or collision.
Cruise Critic summarized these instructions in a recent article as follows:
- When and how to don a lifejacket;
- Description of emergency signals and appropriate responses in the event of an emergency;
- Location of lifejackets;
- Where to muster when the emergency signal is sounded;
- Method of accounting for passenger attendance at musters both for training and in the event of an actual emergency;
- How information will be provided in an emergency;
- What to expect if the Captain orders an evacuation of the ship;
- What additional safety information is available;
- Instructions on whether passengers should return to cabins prior to mustering, including specifics regarding medication, clothing and lifejackets;
- Description of key safety systems and features;
- Emergency routing systems and recognizing emergency exits; and
- Who to seek out for additional information.
When I first read this proposal, I couldn’t believe that the cruise industry didn’t already have an established set of muster station / life vest / life boat instructions. It’s 2012, over 100 years since the Titanic sank! No wonder there was such deadly confusion on the Concordia.
You may recall that back in April, CLIA announced some other new proposals including limiting visits to the bridge during cruises. I called this the "no bimbos in the bridge" policy because Captain Schettino’s girlfriend was reportedly in the bridge after the Concordia hit the rocks.
Is this an industry so far behind the times that it is only now recommending standard muster drill instructions, listing passenger nationalities, and keeping the captain’s girlfriends out of the bridge during disasters?
Photo: Carlos Carballa / EFE