It has been a brutal week for the cruise industry. Consider the developments over the last week:
A 24 year old dancer from Massachusetts died aboard the Seven Seas Voyager. Her body was found when the cruise ship docked in Australia.
Two passengers went overboard from MSC cruise ships in the last couple of days. The body of a 46-year old passenger from the MSC Divina was pulled from the water but a 30 year old man who went overboard from the MSC Fantasia this weekend has not been located.
Five crewmembers are dead and three injured when a cable snapped as a lifeboat was being raised aboard the Thomson Majesty in the Canary Islands.
Yesterday, the Carnival Triumph lost power after an engine room fire disabled the ship. The cruise ship is now being towed to port in Progreso, Mexico while the guests have no running water or air-conditioning and are having to poop in bags.
So where are the reassuring words from the cruise industry’s leadership? Where’s the don’t-worry-cruise-fans these are just rare mishaps in the remarkably safe world of cruising?
So far no word from the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA), which now seemingly has every cruise line in the world as a member. Nothing either from CLIA’s CEO Christine Duffy. Does CLIA and its CEO work on weekends when the lifeboats and passengers are falling and the ships catch fire?
I suppose all of this must be embarrassing to the marketing and public relations people at CLIA. After the Concordia disaster, CLIA announced 10 new safety proposals with great fanfare. One of them had to do with lowering lifeboats with only a few essential crewmembers aboard to avoid unnecessary injuries and deaths. But it seems that this was just a proposal which the cruise lines could ignore. Why were 8 men sitting like guinea pigs in the lifeboat as it is winched up to the 22 year old ship when the cable snapped?
So how does CLIA handle this mess? It seems like CLIA is about as responsive to the disastrous week in cruising as Captain Schettino was in responding to his sinking ship. Its hide-under-the-bed PR.
Eventually the executives at Carnival and Royal Caribbean making tens of millions a year will send some talking points over to CLIA. Then we will hear talk about the remarkable safety record of the cruise industry. Maybe CLIA will announce a Blue Ribbon Lifeboat or Fire Safety Task Force or something equally obtuse but official sounding.
Meanwhile eight families are mourning their dead loved ones and a boatload of families stuck on the disabled Triumph are being towed back to Mexico.