Cruise Ships Invest In New Technology For 2013 Season, But When Will They Invest In Improved Safety Protocols?

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

The 2013 cruise season is well underway, and lines have been rolling out bigger and better vessels, itineraries and onboard nuances. But in the wake of a tragic Thomson Cruises lifeboat drill accident that killed five crewmembers and injured three others, and just a little over a year since the Costa Concordia disaster, it would seem as though funds would be better spent on improving safety protocols and crewmember training.

As our cruise injury lawyers well know, when it comes to cruise ships, bigger doesn’t always mean better. The larger the vessel and the more attractions it features the more opportunities for passengers – and crewmembers – to get hurt. And since many of these lines are competing with each other to see who can debut the largest, most awe-inspiring ship, chances are some of these features haven’t even been adequately tested for safety.

Perhaps the most anticipated events this cruise season will be the release of two new vessels – the Norwegian Breakaway, which will be the largest ship ever to homeport year-round in New York City starting in May, and Princess Cruises’ Royal Princess, which is set to debut in June.

The Breakaway certainly has the “wow factor,” featuring the pop art of Peter Max, an aquapark, including five multi-story water slides and a double freefall slide, and a passenger carrying capacity of 4,028 guests.

The Royal Princess will carry 3,600 passengers and features its own set of amazing innovations, including the SeaWalk, a glass-bottom walkway extending 8.5 meters over the edge of the ship, and the Sanctuary, described as a “signature haven just for adults,” with private cabanas and food and drink services.

“Both ships reflect the new trend of being outside all the time with outdoor restaurants, more on-deck seating and other reasons for you to be outside,” said CruiseCritic.com editor Carolyn Spencer Brown.

However, the more time passengers spend outside, the more chance they have of being involved in an accident.

Today’s cruise ships offer just about everything to fulfill each guest’s heart’s desire, from ice skating rinks to rock climbing walls to Flow Riders. But while these features certainly attract the attention of potential travelers, they don’t come cheap.

The construction of new ships and add-ons to existing vessels can cost millions of dollars and several years to complete. However, it only takes a few minutes out of each day and a fraction of that cost to review and improve safety protocols on each vessel, speak to crewmembers about new safety measures, and ensure all equipment is running properly.

Following the Costa Concordia capsizing accident on Jan. 13, 2012, which caused the deaths of 32 individuals, the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) released a series of new protocols cruise companies should follow in order to improve safety onboard their ships.

Unfortunately, it appears as though liners are not doing their part to invest in improved safety measures. The 2013 cruise season has already been marred with several accidents taking place – some fatal – let us hope that the cruise companies will soon open their eyes to the reality of what’s going on aboard their ships and focus on improving safety fleet-wide rather than just eye appeal.

Photo Credits:

Top Right: Norwegian Breakaway Construction – travelserver.net
Middle Left: Norwegian Breakaway Deck Features – gcaptain.com
Middle Right: Royal Princess Celebration – princess.com
Bottom Left: Costa Concordia Capsizing Accident – komonews.com