The following is a release from the Association of Cruise Experts (ACE) with guidance on how to answer the questions being raised by customers in the wake of the Costa Concordia disaster.
Firstly, we express our deepest sympathies to all passengers and crew affected by the incident with Costa Concordia this week, and we should pay tribute to those who worked tirelessly to evacuate the ship and help minimise casualties.
ACE has been working closely with cruise lines, travel agents and the international cruise community to provide information to our wider travel agent community during these uncertain times.
A number of travel agents have requested guidance on how best to answer some questions that are being raised by customers and the following is a guide to assist with any specific queries:
How could this happen to a modern cruise ship?
The investigation into what happened on January 13th is still under investigation by the appropriate authorities and the wider industry has pledged their full cooperation. Until the investigation is complete it would be wrong to pre-empt the outcome.
What we can say with some clarity is that incidents of this kind are incredibly rare; the technology used on modern cruise ships is extremely advanced and the safety standards and crew training adopted by cruise lines are rigorous.
Does this mean that cruising is a safe holiday choice?
Absolutely. Cruising remains one of the safest forms of holiday available.
Please consider that since 2005 more than 117 million passengers from around the world have cruised and incidents of this kind are very isolated. For all cruise lines the safety of their passengers and crew is the highest priority.
Who regulates the safety of cruise ships?
All cruise ships are designed and operated in compliance with the strict requirements of the International Maritime Organisation (IMO) which falls under the United Nations. This body sets the strict global standards for the operation of cruise ships. This is overlaid by regulations enforced by flag states, where the ship is registered, and port state control which represent the country where the ship is sailing.
As you would expect, ships’ crew undertake extensive training, certification, drills and scenarios for any emergency situation, including evacuation.
Are cruise ships safe?
All cruise ships and cruise lines have to comply with very strict regulations set by the IMO. One of the most important pieces of regulation set by the IMO is the treaty called Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) which includes comprehensive regulations covering safety equipment and procedures, and the standards set by this regulation cover all commercial ships carrying more than 12 passengers.
Please remember that the safety of all passengers and crew onboard cruise ships is the highest priority for companies.
Will this incident affect customer demand for cruising?
Whilst it is probably too early to establish the precise impact this incident will have, we should remember that a cruise offers one of the safest holiday choices.
Cruising has invested heavily in building new ships and refurbishing existing fleets to not only improve and create new facilities but to ensure passenger safety. There have been over 13.5 million ocean cruises sold in the UK and Ireland in the last decade, and incidents of this kind are thankfully isolated and very rare.
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