Yesterday the on-line cruise community Cruise Critic published an article "Man Overboards: Questions and Answers."
We previously criticized Cruise Critic after it deleted comments from its message boards about the passenger who recently went overboard from the HAL Veendam. We have also been critical of the cruise lines for not investing in installing the man overboard systems.
The man overboard systems came to the public’s attention because a non-profit victim’s group, the International Cruise Victims (ICV) organization, lobbied Congress to require the installation of these systems. The cruise industry vigorously fought against the requirement. Cruise lines argued that the systems were not needed.
The ICV attended a series of hearings before the Senate and the House from 2005 through 2009 culminating in the passage of the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act (CVSSA) of 2010. This law required all cruise ships, effective January 2012, to install detection systems which immediately notify the bridge when a person goes overboard.
Regarding its article yesterday, Cruise Critic did not interview anyone at the ICV, or independent expert engineers, or the companies which have developed man overboard systems, or Coast Guard officials, or any critics of the cruise industry.
Instead, Cruise Critic interviewed only one cruise line, Carnival, and the cruise industry’s trade organization, the Cruise Line International Association (CLIA). Cruise Critic did not even mention the CVSSA in the article.
The bottom line is that the cruise industry is in violation of the CVSSA. It has broken the law, and continues to break the law every time a cruise ship – without a man overboard system – sails. Cruise Critic interviewed only the law-breaking cruise industry. Unfortunately, this is the style of the Expedia-owned, cruise friendly cruise site.
In Cruise Critic’s article, the cruise industry claims that man overboard systems are not reliable and that the cruise lines are working hard to develop a system. Hogwash. The technology is available, reliable and ready to be installed. The cruise industry is just dragging its feet.
Carnival says that it has been trying to development a system since 2006. That seems like nonsense too. In 2006, Carnival and CLIA were doing everything possible to convince Congress that the systems were not necessary. They were busy then spending millions lobbying Congress to kill the man overboard legislation, not to develop a man overboard system.
Cruise Critic also gives an explanation why its doesn’t "cover" all cases of overboard passengers. I could care less whether it does or not. But we we not talking about articles, but comments left by cruisers. I was critical of Cruise Critic’s decision to censor its message boards and to delete the innocuous comments of its members who decided to mention the overboard case which the cruise line wanted to keep secret.