Costa Concordia Cruise Ship Accident Survivors Recount Experiences And Urge Industry To Improve Safety Onboard Vessels

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

It has been nearly one year since the Costa Concordia cruise ship accident claimed the lives of 32 people. The Carnival Corp.-owned vessel capsized off the coast of the Italian island of Giglio on January 13, after crashing into rocks following a maneuver called a “salute” that the captain ordered at the last minute. While many were lucky to have survived, one Duanesburg, NY family doubts they will ever get back on a cruise ship.

“I wouldn’t feel totally safe,” said Joan Fleser, when asked whether she had any plans on sailing onboard a cruise vessel anytime soon.

According to Fleser’s family, the cruise industry has not done enough to prevent similar accidents from happening in the future. Although the one-year anniversary of the tragic incident looms near, the family can still recall the accident as if it happened just yesterday.

Fleser, her husband, Brian Aho, and their daughter, Alana, were among those fortunate enough to make it to Giglio’s shore after the vessel capsized. There, a local family welcomed them into their home and four days later, the family arrived back in New York. For weeks they were plagued with phone calls for interviews, and the family even attended congressional hearings in Washington, D.C., on cruise safety.

“It was very interesting and very upsetting seeing that the House Committee was stacked with representatives from cruise states and they were so pro-cruise industry,” Fleser said.

The issue of cruise safety hits close to home for Fleser’s family, not only because of the tragic accident, but because of their own line of work. Fleser, an environmental laboratory consultant for the state Department of Health and Aho, a chemist for the state Department of Environmental Conservation, deal with safety issues day in and day out. The Concordia was not their first cruise, but it may have been their last. While Fleser and Aho explain they are not afraid of actually getting back in the water — they have already spent time on small boats since the devastating accident –they refuse to get on a cruise ship until safety across the industry is improved.

The couple is concerned about many matters, including language barriers that can affect how smoothly evacuation procedures are executed, course changes, which the couple believes should be tracked so maritime authorities can see if a ship deviates from its itinerary, and incident reporting. Fleser and her family acknowledged how difficult it can be for passengers to report crimes and accidents onboard cruise ships because of lax reporting requirements.

The International Maritime Organization has proposed minor regulations that would standardize instructions given to passengers during muster drills, provide regulations for lifeboat loading during crew training and urge cruise ship owners to assure any alterations to the vessel’s course are in accordance with company policies. However, this is not enough to fully prevent a tragedy like the Concordia capsizing. It will take a great deal of time and effort for the cruise industry to amend their policies and regulations enough to make sure another accident like the Concordia never happens again, but cruise passengers can help prepare themselves for the aftermath of any maritime personal injury a bit better by downloading our firm’s free Smartphone app, Cruise Ship Lawyer, prior to sailing. It enables victims can document their incidents and contact our attorneys directly.

In the event that someone is injured on a cruise ship, it is important for them to safely obtain as much evidence as they can while still on the vessel and seek legal help as soon as they can so they can evaluate their options and file a timely claim for damages.

Photo Credit: theatlantic.com