The U.S. Coast Guard made a remarkable statement during the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) conference in March regarding passenger safety aboard cruise ships.

It said that it targets cruise ships with a history of safety problems. That’s a good idea, of course. But the NTSB failed to ask the Coast Guard a simple follow-up question – what cruise line(s) and what cruise ships have demonstrated a pattern of poor maintenance and safety concerns?

The Coast Guard didn’t point the finger at any particular cruise line and the NTSB didn’t ask the question that the public needed to know. 

Allure of the Seas Life BoatMy thought is that the NTSB didn’t want to embarrass the cruise lines who organized the conference. This reveals one of the major problems inherent in cruising. The federal agencies which are suppose to be watchdogs of cruise safety are in bed with the cruise lines. 

In response to this situation, Senators Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.), John D. (Jay) Rockefeller IV (D-W.V.) (Chairman of the Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation), and Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) sent a letter to Coast Guard Admiral Robert Papp, Jr. asking that that inspection reports be made available to the public over the Internet. 

The senators wrote “ . . . we respectfully request that the records and results of the unannounced inspections be made public and easily available over the Internet for prospective cruise passengers to peruse before booking a trip.”

The senators added:

“We agree it is strategic of the Coast Guard to target ships and vessels that have a pattern or history of safety problems, but we further expect that consumers should also be privy to the insights and patterns that the Coast Guard already knows, in addition to the ones it discovers in the future. Furthermore, the Coast Guard does a disservice to the public when it shields from consumers the identity of cruise ships and lines that have a pattern of noncompliance.”

No response from the Coast Guard so far.

  • Kristoffer

    If the Coast Guard doesn’t listen, time for the senators to start hinting that the Coast Guard’s refusal will be taken into consideration when budgeting is done.

  • Bob Mac

    Nice one Kristopher – a funding cut would really help the targeting of substandard ships as well as greatly enhancing overall Maritime Safety.

  • Ed Enos

    I believe the additional problem lies with the reality that the cruise industry is a big employer of retired USCG folks. We wouldn’t want to decrease those opportunities now, would we? The USCG has been ‘challenged’ in recent years by an increasing amount of incidents involving the cruise industry. It’s simultaneous to the cruise industry hiring more ex-coasties. Therein lies the problem and we all know it. Why on earth can one decline to say something to a congressional hearing or NTSB…in public…on an issue that is germane to the public’s safety?? Isn’t that the point, ultimately? Isn’t the spirit and intent of the issue at hand meant to protect the public? The only thing the cruise executives understand are profit and loss. If they start losing profits due to poor inspections and those public revelations, they’ll quickly address those issues and correct them. ISN’T THAT WHAT WE ALL WANT IN THE END?? So why the hesitation? The answers are well known and understood. But the professional conflict remains and most of us within the industry ‘get it’. The public doesn’t. Nor do the politicians. therefore, it’ll be business as usual.