I read a tweet this evening which caught my eye:
I noticed that it was by Jane Wooldridge who many of you know as the business editor of the Miami Herald. I have been critical of the Miami Herald and its reporters who, like Ms. Wooldridge, are careful not to criticize the Miami-based cruise lines like Carnival and Royal Caribbean which contribute substantially to their newspaper’s advertising revenues.
Actually the tweet did not refer to an article in the Herald at all. Instead it linked to an article in Travel + Leisure where Ms. Wooldridge answers her own question by assuring us that cruise ships accidents resulting in death are "very rare" and that the Concordia shipwreck was an "anomaly." These are exactly the talking points that the cruise industry sent to its friends in the travel industry immediately after the Concordia hit the rocks a year ago.
Ms. Wooldridge goes so far as to suggest that the recent safety proposals of having safety drills before cruising, keeping strangers out of the bridge and other long overdue basic practices may "eliminate such incidents altogether."
Now I am accustomed to delusional puff pieces like this from travel publication editors (Mr. Woolridge is also editor of Travel + Leisure). The most notorious pro-cruise puff pieces come from cruise cheerleader Carolyn Spencer-Brown, who is editor of the Expedia/Travel Advisor owned Cruise Critic publication. She loves to say that cruising is "absolutely safe."
The truth is that there have been far more deaths on cruise ships over the course of the past five years than other forms of major transportation. The U.S. based commercial aviation industry is remarkably safe. The airlines had strict pre-flight checklists and safety procedures 50 years ago. And needless to say, the aviation industry never let the pilot’s girlfriends hang out in the cockpit or permit jets to buzz towns for fun.
Cruise lines also have a major problem with crimes committed by employees and drunk passengers against women and children. The chance of being raped on a cruise is twice that of being raped ashore. Airlines, railroads and buses simply do not have these types of problems.
Do you really think that public relations inspired proposals promoted in a travel magazine will prevent the next deadly cruise ship collision or shipboard fire? Do you think that the new rules will protect your little girl from a pedophile male cabin attendant with a key card to your cabin?
If you want sunshine blown up your caboose, then rely on Ms. Wooldridge or Ms. Spencer-Brown for an answer to the question "is cruising is safe?" I guarantee that you will receive no real facts but lots of wonderful adjectives that accidents are "rare" and cruising is "absolutely" safe.
But if you want facts upon which base your own conclusions, check around for information from sources like Sociology Professor Ross Klein’s informative website, or check out the website of the non-profit International Cruise Victims, or read some of our articles about cruise ship accidents, deaths, sexual assault of women and molestation of children which the cruise lines and travel writers would prefer you not know.
Since 2005 I have been to seven Congressional hearings regarding cruise ship safety, including the last two hearings following the Costa Concordia disaster (photo above right). A half-dozen of my clients testified about the issue of whether cruise ships are safe.
I have not seen Ms. Wooldridge or Ms. Spencer-Brown at any of the hearings.