With the highly publicised sinking of the Costa Concordia, a lot of people must be worrying about just how safe cruises are?
Without conducting a thorough investigation, there’s no conclusive answer to this question but from the information that is available, we can get a pretty good idea.
If you are planning on booking a Cruise, ALWAYS do your homework on the ship. Was it built by the cruise line itself? How old is the ship? How strict are the cruise line’s safety policies? and if you are my mother…What nationality is the captain?!
Let’s take the P&O Adonia for instance, while you may trust in P&O, they purchased this ship from Princess where it was the “Royal Princess” where it suffered a serious engine room fire in 2009. Princess purchased the ship after it was seized from Renaissance cruises in 2001 and laid up for 2 years. So essentially, this is a ship that has been passed around and been under 4 names already.
Or how about the Thompson Dream? Which was formally the Costa Crociere and before that the Westerdam or before that the Homeric. The ship first launched in 1985 and is currently being “loaned out” to Thompson from Costa Cruises. Despite being 27 years old, Thompson advertise the ship as “Brand New” and 5*. More than 200 passengers who sailed on the Dream between May & October 2010 have filed a lawsuit against the cruise line for conditions that have been described by passengers as “Disgusting and highly unsanitary”.
Maybe you might wanna give those a miss?
As far as actual dangerous incidents go, here’s a chart to show you how the major cruise lines compare.
Now, you do have to take into consideration the size of the fleets, clearly more ships in the waters will increase the chances of accidents. Even so, some of these numbers are alarming.
Royal Caribbean have 22 ships that have incurred 26 Disabling accidents, collisions or fires since 2007. In addition to this, Royal Caribbean has an alarmingly high rate of sexual abuse/rape crimes onboard their ships. Possibly down to the type of younger clientele they attract but it’s still an unnerving statistic.
Carnival also has a high accident rate along with a large fleet, 23 incidents on 24 ships.
At the other end of the Spectrum, Celebrity Cruise line has a fleet of 11 and only incurred 3 incidents since 2007. Disney Cruise line has incurred only 2 incidents with it’s fleet of 4 (only 3 in service).
Another thing to consider is how the crew/captain react in emergency situations. Far too often we hear of the captain announcing that everything is fine when infact, there is a huge problem with the ship, while they may do this to reduce panic, they are only endangering lives. How well trained the crew are to deal with emergencies will make a grave difference to your safety.
You’ll often find that the better a cruise line treats it’s staff, the more effective they will be in an emergency situation.
Out of the cruise line’s mentioned in the graph, if there’s one that takes your safety as a passenger into consideration the most, it’s Disney Cruise Line. Crew on Disney undergo constant safety and customer service training as well as regular drills. With all the fleet being American ships they have mandatory passenger safety drills upon the sail away of every cruise. Their safety record is quite impeccable when you consider they carry another danger no other cruise line does…Fireworks at sea. They are they only Cruise line with permission to have firework displays at sea and weekly. However there was one instance of a stray firework that started a small fire in the restaurant on the top deck but rest assured no one was injured and the fire was promptly dealt with and the restaurant re-opened for dinner the next night.
Another instance where disaster has struck Disney Cruise line but was dealt with promptly and properly and no one injured was in 2002 when one of the funnels caught fire. Instead of telling passengers everything was ok and under control, they announced at 5am that all passengers should put on their lifejackets and report to their assembly stations. All set to abandon ship (in about as an orderly manner as you can get in a cruise ship disaster) the crew fire team managed to get the fire out and the cruise carried on as normal with the only set back being arriving 1hr 30mins late to the next port.
Basically the lesson is, do your research. Disaster can strike any ship but it’s more to do with how the crew deals with these emergencies.
When you’ve looked at the safety, take a look at customer ratings…
Bit of a no brainer. I’ve been unable to find the source of this list, a friend posted it. If anyone knows where it’s from, let me know.
All of the opinions expressed in the above article are my own and I am not affiliated with any Cruise Line. The incident stats were collated by myself.