New Cruise Laws Pose Safety and Environmental Risk on the Italian Coast

Lipcon, Marguiles, Alsina & Winkleman, P.A

Aerial view of the bay of Portofino

The tragedy of the Costa Concordia shocked and saddened everyone in the cruise community. The unnecessary loss of life brought with it a reminder of the need for safety practices to which all members of the crew should adhere. As much as we like to think of cruises as a fun, carefree getaway, this event was a humbling reminder of the way that an innocent vacation can turn to disaster at a moment’s notice. And while most cruises do go off without a hitch, these events are necessary reminders for us, so that we do not forget just how crucial safety can be.

Needless to say, the Costa Concordia event shed a light on an aspect of the cruise ship world that gave us food for thought. As guests, we want to trust that our captain and crew have our best interests at heart. And as crewmembers, we want to know that everyone on our team is working together towards a common goal of safety.

But, in the wake of that tragic incident, new concerns have arisen over the impact of cruises, not just on the lives of individuals, but on the health of the environment as well. A recent discussion over the environmental impacts of cruise ships in Italy sheds light on the situation.

On Monday, July 4th, 2016 new regulations went into place that allow cruise ships to come as close as 0.3 nautical miles to the Lingurian coast, near the popular port town of Portofino. This is a reduction from the previous 0.7 nautical miles. Environmentalists fear this is the beginning of a terrible situation, both for people and the environment.

Santo Grammatico, the head of Italy’s largest environmental group, Legambiente, said, “It is not a question of pollution, but of security and danger. What happened with the Concordia taught us that distance should be respected.”

Indeed, distance was the cause of the fatal event aboard the Costa Concordia, which killed 32 people in 2012. Grammatico’s concern is understandable. After all, cruise lines should want to protect their passengers just as much as passengers want to return home, safe and sound, from their cruise vacation.

Italy Should Prioritize Passenger Safety

In the wake of the Concordia incident, we find it curious that Italian officials would approve a law that would, it seems, only increase the possibility of similar issues in the future. If a cruise ship can run aground, injuring and possibly killing passengers, by coming too close to shore, the distance to shore should be carefully regulated.

In recent years, safety of the water ecosystems has also been discussed. Specifically, Legambiente has argued that cruise lines threaten the fragile ecosystem of the Venetian lagoon, an irreplaceable fixture of the Italian coast.

It is our hope that legislation in Italy will preserve the lives of all cruise ship passengers, as well as the life of the unique ecosystem that exists there. It is possible to find a balance and we hope that all those involved are working towards the best possible solution.

But even when a compromise is agreed upon, we know that tragedy can still occur. So if you or a loved one have suffered an injury aboard a cruise vessel, know that we are here to help. An LMAW maritime attorney has experience dealing with Costa Cruises and many other well-known cruise lines. We will help you with every step of your legal process, so you can get back to living your life. You are more than welcome to contact us to schedule a free consultation.