Sinking the cruise industry?
I also wanted to find out why many passengers apparently hadn't been part of a lifeboat drill.
On all of my own two dozen or so cruises, the lifeboat drill took place within the first 24 hours, usually shortly after the ship set sail. Jennifer tells me that when a passenger she booked on a Caribbean cruise failed to attend the mandatory life boat drill, Fried was contacted by the cruise line. "They were ready to put the passenger ashore," she said. "That's how seriously they take it."
Life boat drills have changed some in the 30 years I've been cruising. On my last voyage passengers didn't have to retrieve their life vests, put them on and go to their assigned lifeboat stations. Instead we took life vests to the lounge where we saw a video about evacuation procedures.Attendance was taken to be sure every passenger was there. Members of the Cruise Lines Industry Association trade group comply with rules mandating a life boat drill within the first 24 hours of a cruise, according to a spokesman.
Maritime law may differ in Europe, and as Fried pointed out, the Concordia's itinerary allowed it to take on and disembark passengers at several different ports - quite unlike cruises in this part of the world, which begin and end at certain ports and last a prescribed number of days.
"The Concordia seems to have been more like a ferry boat," she observed. When they appeared on Tuesday's Today Show, Concordia passengers Melissa Goduli and her mother Maria Papa said there had been a lifeboat drill aboard the ship the previous Saturday. But other passengers had differing accounts.
But when I took the Hurtigruten Norwegian coastal voyage from Kirkeness to Bergen it was aboard a true ferry boat. And a very thorough lifeboat drill took place before we departed that Arctic village near the Russian border.
Will this disaster mean the end of the cruise industry? I asked Fried.
"Those who have cruised before usually have a great experience and they'll cruise again," she said. As far as vacation types go, cruising gets high marks for satisfaction.
But I predict some who have never cruised might not be so anxious to do so, despite cruises fares that may come tumbling down in the wake of this disaster off Italy. And I also predict that the rules governing cruise ships and safety at sea will also undergo some changes.