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New cruise ship regulations aim to address safety issues

Cruise safety became a hot topic in the news in January 2012 when the luxury cruise liner Costa Concordia ran aground off the coast of Italy and killed 32 passengers and crewmembers. Officials in the cruise industry responded to the tragedy by forming a Global Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review with the goal of drafting new safety regulations for cruise ships and preventing another disaster like the Costa Concordia. A year after the Costa Concordia accident, the Cruise Lines International Association, North America's largest cruise industry organization, announced that it had adopted 10 new safety regulations the Operational Safety Review recommended.

Industry-wide safety effort

In adopting the new safety regulations, CLIA worked with the International Maritime Organization, the United Nations agency specializing in maritime safety. CLIA officials noted they did not want to wait for international laws to change, so they adopted safety measures that exceed standards the IMO set in its Safety of Life at Sea convention.

CLIA is one of nine cruise industry associations from around the world that agreed in 2012 to work under an umbrella organization to standardize safety procedures and regulations. All of the members should adopt the new regulations that CLIA implemented in 2013.

10 new rules for cruise ships

The new safety regulations address the following issues:

  • Life jackets: One regulation requires ships to carry more life jackets than there are people on the ship. Another rule requires ships to store life jackets near lifeboats or muster stations so passengers can access them easily.
  • Muster drills: Ships must now hold muster drills prior to departing from port, rather than within the first 24 hours of leaving as ships could do in the past.
  • Lifeboats: Crews responsible for loading lifeboats need to drill at least once every six months, loading and handling at least one full lifeboat during the drills.
  • Bridge access: At times when increased attention is required in navigation, such as entering or departing port or in heavy traffic, ships must limit access to the bridge to only those who are necessary to the ship's operation. Another regulation requires large cruise ship companies to implement uniform bridge policies across all their brands.
  • Passage planning: All members of the bridge team must be briefed on passage planning, the complete description of the ship's voyage that a deck officer prepares before the journey to ensure the ship follows the necessary routes to get from port to port.
  • Emergency instructions: Cruise operators must communicate 12 pieces of information to passengers during emergency instructions, such as lifejacket locations and recognizing emergency exits.
  • Securing equipment: Cruise ship operators will be required to implement procedures to secure large and heavy equipment such as pianos and televisions onboard.
  • Passenger data: Cruise ship companies must keep records of each passenger's nationality and make the information easily accessible to search-and-rescue workers.

Speak with an attorney

Cruise ships advertise carefree vacations, but in truth travelling or working as a crewmember on a cruise ship can be dangerous. The new safety rules may help prevent some accidents, but they cannot guarantee everyone on board will be safe. If you have been injured on a cruise ship, talk to an attorney with a proven track record of helping people recover compensation for cruise ship injuries.

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