The cruise industry has announced many new safety measures since the Costa Concordia tragedy on 13 January, when 32 people died. On top of that, the industry adopted three new policies on Thursday. These were revealed by the European Cruise Council (ECC) and Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), addressing issues related to the storage of life jackets on newly built ships, securing heavy objects and synchronising bridge operating procedures with commonly owned and operated fleets.
The new policy for life jackets means that cruise ships have to have plenty at every muster station or lifeboat embarkation point so they are readily accessible to crewmembers to be distributed. Cruise lines have always had more life jackets on board than required, but a big percentage of them have been stored in cabins while muster stations have contained less than one per person.
The policy regarding securing heavy objects includes things like treadmills, pianos, laundry equipment, televisions, etc. These items have to be either secured permanently, when they aren't being used or when there's severe weather. The ECC and CLIA believe that these items could potentially cause injury to crew and passengers alike if they aren't properly secured.
The new rule for synchronising bridge operating procedures is aimed at enhancing safety by making companies consistent across all their brands and operations. Several of the crew members who are part of a bridge team rotate among different vessels often. The ECC and CLIA believe synchronising procedures will improve communications on every ship across each company to make things safer for everybody.
The advice on these new safety regulations came under the Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review, which was led by a panel of safety and maritime experts. This review was launched in January by the CLIA, and several new rules have been adopted over the last year. The recommendations were then formally submitted to the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), and the three announced above will be reported to the organisation's Maritime Safety Committee this month for consideration at its meeting in May next year.
The first recommendations were announced in February in direct response to the disaster with the Costa Concordia. Passengers on the ship didn't receive a pre-departure safety drill, but this has now been made mandatory. Other new policies include: the requirement for transparency and consistency in marine casualty data; new crew training for the loading of lifeboats; new training for the necessary common aspects of muster and emergency instruction; and recording the nationality of passengers.
CLIA president and chief executive Christine Duffy says that the three new policies they have just announced build on the other seven proactively adopted by the worldwide cruise industry since January. They are helping to improve crew and passenger safety, which is their top priority.
ECC chairman Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio says that the range of these new policies represents the truly universal nature of the operational safety review. They also show that safety enhancements are being made wherever possible. Additionally, these policies emphasise the commitment of their members to coordinate safety practices throughout the industry and reflect the readiness of cruise lines to implement and share their best practices where they can.