Crystal Cruises, A Japanese luxury liner with only two ships in its fleet, has announced it will be introducing the world’s first hypoallergenic cruise ship cabins, catering to passengers who suffer from allergies. Crystal has partnered with PURE Marine Solutions, sister company to PURE Global, a hypoallergenic hotel room-designer, for the project which is scheduled to take only a few weeks to complete.
According to the cruise company, plans are underway to convert 70 cabins on the 1,070-passenger Crystal Serenity into “Deluxe PURE Staterooms,” aka ultra-purified, hypoallergenic rooms, while the vessel is in dry dock this November. Each hypoallergenic cabin will undergo a seven-step process in order to remove allergens that may irritate passengers. Among the new additions to the hypoallergenic rooms will be a special medical-grade air filter that will allegedly remove 99.9% of allergens and special microfiber mattresses and pillow cases. The new cabins are scheduled to be debuted on Nov. 27.
Although there haven’t been any reports of cruise passengers suffering any severe side effects from allergies to linens or bedding, there have been instances in which cruise passengers have been instances in which passengers have suffered allergic reactions to food. Back in 2010, a passenger onboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s Epic cruise ship died after suffering an allergic reaction to something he ate.
The vast majority of cruise lines offer several different dining options, including gluten-free and low-calorie choices. Some lines even take note of a passenger’s specific allergies in order to ensure they obtain the correct food each day at dinner, but this is often only available upon request. Cruise lines may note that one food may be gluten- or fat-free in a buffet line or on a dining room menu, but they don’t disclose every single ingredient that may have been used in a particular menu option.
Some people are allergic to peanuts or soy, and may not even realize that the food they are eating either contains those ingredients or was processed in an area where those ingredients were also handled. As a result, the passenger may suffer a severe allergic reaction, the likes of which the limited medical resources on a vessel might not be able to care for.
While Crystal is taking a huge step in catering to the needs of its passengers, this is just one small step in the colossal list of things cruise lines need to change in order to provide greater safety and security at sea for everyone onboard.
Since the Triumph fire accident sent shock waves through the nation back in February, the cruise industry has been on shaky ground (no pun intended). There have been several complaints about cruise lines failing to provide a safe environment for guests and although there are hidden secrets about the cruise industry that for years, only the industry itself, maritime organizations and cruise lawyers have been made privy to, the uncharacteristically high number of cruise ship accidents this year has led several legislators to take action and increase transparency between the real rate of cruise ship crimes and accidents to the public.
Senator Jay Rockefeller, Chairman of the U.S. Commerce, Science, and Transportation Committee, called a Senate hearing at the beginning of the month to discuss the discrepancy in cruise crime reporting. According to statistics obtained from FBI and Coast Guard data, the number of crimes and incidents that are reported to the FBI and other maritime authorities and those that are disclosed to the public. The meeting revealed that the number of crimes reported to authorities by cruise lines is 30 times higher than the number of crimes reported to the public.
The same week as the hearing, Sen. Rockefeller introduced the Cruise Passenger Protection Act of 2013, which requires cruise lines to report all crimes, even those that are alleged, to the public. So far, four cruise lines have disclosed their crime rates on their respective websites, including Carnival Cruise Line, Royal Caribbean International, Disney Cruises, and Norwegian Cruise Line, but the vast majority of other lines have yet to follow suit.
Given the cruise industry’s history of dodging maritime laws, who knows whether other lines will bother to release their crime or accident data to the public.
But even if this data was publicized, there are countless incidents that occur at sea that are not “severe” enough to merit FBI or Coast Guard reporting. If a passenger suffers an allergic reaction to a food item, for example, and is able to be treated, the cruise line will most likely keep the incident under wraps, even if the victim suffered an allergy because the cruise line failed to disclose all information regarding the food’s ingredients.
Cruise lines tend to find loopholes in maritime laws, especially because they register their ships in foreign countries. This common practice allows lines to avoid the stricter penalties that are associated with breaking a U.S. maritime law and allows the lines to conceal information about an accident or crime from both the FBI and the public.
Although we applaud Crystal Cruises for their consideration of passengers who suffer from allergies, it’s simply not enough. One good deed cannot possibly make up for the thousands of terrible accidents and crimes that have come to pass in the cruise industry throughout the years, many of which have been the direct fault of the cruise lines for failing to provide a safe shipboard environment.
Hopefully now that the U.S. government is putting greater pressure on the cruise industry to disclose accident and crime information and to take the necessary steps to reduce the risk of these incidents, lines will make a greater effort to comply and cater to the needs of their passengers.