This weekend, the New York Times published an article about the "supersize craze" – the increasingly large cruise ships being built by the major cruise lines which are "worrying safety experts, lawmakers and regulators." 

The article quotes my hero- Jim Hall, the chairman of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTBS): “Cruise ships operate in a void from the standpoint of oversight and enforcement. The industry has been very fortunate until now." 

Oasis Class Evacuation ChuteThe article discusses the capsizing of the Costa Concordia and the fires aboard the Carnival Triumph & Splendor and the Royal Caribbean Grandeur of the Seas, and concludes that larger cruise ships pose larger problems when things go wrong.

The article also quotes Rear Admiral Joseph Servidio, who testified at a Senate hearing in July which I attended. He said that the recent cruise ship fires “highlight serious questions about the design, maintenance and operation of fire safety equipment on board these vessels, as well as their companies’ safety management cultures.”

The New York Times addressed the potential problems of evacuating Royal Caribbean two mega-ships, the Allure and the Oasis. There are not enough life boats for the crew. The 2,300 crew members on each of these cruise ships will have to jump down 60 foot evacuation chutes into life rafts.

You can see our article about this problem here – Titanic Redux? Can Royal Caribbean Safely Evacuate 8,500 Passengers & Crew from the Oasis of the Seas? Be sure to watch the video at the end of the article.

Captain William H. Doherty, a former captain at Norwegian Cruise Lines, explained the problem in simple terms to the New York Times: “The simple problem is they are building them too big and putting too many people aboard.”


Image Credit: Viking / Royal Catibbean 

  • Suzanne

    The inside of the lifeboats for the Oasis are rather daunting. They look like a game of twister with color coded shapes for where you sit and in what direction. It is an enclosed space with the people packed body to body inside. The thought of having to get in one of those things in an emergency made me very nervous.

  • John Goldsmith

    Well, Mr. Walker, This is an article I can really get behind.I’ve written before and sometimes you are really heavy on the cruise lines. This time you really have a valid point. I have questioned the size of some of these ships, maybe not for the same reasons you pick on them, but because they really are way too big.
    I don’t want to be guest 1 of 4000, but rather 1 of 1500 or so. These behemoths cannot be a quiet and relaxing place, and I’ve spoken to quite a few older couples who find them way too loud, busy and fast paced for them. As for Safety, heaven forbid there is a serious incedent away from a shore, where like the Costa Concordia, a rescue can be effected.But, the rules will need to be applied at the same time around the globe and have some teeth to it. If the U.S. or Canada enact a certain rule that can only be enforced in the Domestic areas of operation, they will not work.
    I will still cruise, but I do like the smaller venues and the quieter trips, even when you pick on the cruise lines.
    Thanks and keep up the interesting site.

  • Where do we sign up

    Where do we sign up to see the cowardly Fain and Goldstein jump down the 59 story chute? Let them put their money where their mouth is and do it. If it’s good enough for the crew isn’t it good enough for Fain and Goldstein? Oh. Sorry. They are too busy stuffing their pockets full of cash then to worry about the crew members safety.