Will Recent History Stop Me From Cruising?

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Will Recent History Stop Me from Cruising?

By Peter Greenberg

Medjet Travel Assistance Tip – When news struck that a Carnival ship was stranded in the middle of the ocean, days away from land, a debate got heated on my Facebook page.

“I would never go on a cruise” wrote one PR executive.

“I just completed my 35th cruise. So to say one will never cruise after hearing this is crazy,” responded another.

One person suggested, “I think it’s better to avoid the mega ships.”

There’s no doubt, the deteriorating conditions on the Carnival Triumph were outrageous:  no electricity, few working bathrooms, stifling heat, and limited food.

But let’s talk about the facts: Cruising remains an incredibly safe operation. In 2011, 20 million global passengers took a cruise. And with very few exceptions, notably the Costa Concordia tragedy a little more than a year ago, there have been remarkably few fatalities on cruise ships.

The most terrifying thing that can happen on a cruise ship is an onboard fire, and that’s what happened on the Carnival Triumph. A fire broke out in the engine room. But today’s modern cruise ships are equipped with great fire detection and suppression systems. Water-tight doors were immediately closed, the ship’s air conditioning and ventilation systems shut down, and then the fire suppression system went into action, flooding the entire engine room with chemicals designed to inert the oxygen and starve the fire.

But when the fire suppression flooded the engine room and starved the fire, it also knocked out everything that operates on fuel (i.e. engines, generators). Translation: The ship was dead in the water…floating, with minimal electrical power. Conditions went from good to worse very quickly.

This became an inevitable PR nightmare for Carnival and there are some very angry passengers with lawyers by their sides. But the facts remain: an engine room fire that could have been catastrophic was quickly extinguished, and no lives were lost.

Can cruising be made safer? Absolutely. Increased safety and cross-training of crew, mandatory dual language requirements, and better waste management systems, will go a long way in improving cruise safety and the health of passengers on board. Sometimes it takes a bad situation to make necessary changes: almost immediately after the Costa Concordia tragedy, several cruise lines began requiring that muster (life boat) drills take place before the ship leaves port.

Will this type of situation stop me from cruising? Absolutely not. There are risks to any type of travel and once in a while, a crisis breaks out that makes a lot of people question whether it’s worth it. But the numbers—and common sense—are definitely on your side here. I’m not a cheerleader for the cruise industry. I’m just rooting for the facts. So…happy cruising!