MIAMI, Florida–This past Monday, almost 3000 passengers boarded Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas for what was expected to be a fun filled vacation, a four-night cruise plying the high seas and traveling to different ports, engaging in all types of shipboard activities and shore side activities at the exotic ports. To their surprise, the first night of their cruise was spent at the port in Cape Canaveral Florida, where they boarded the cruise ship for their vacation! Surely not what the almost 3000 passengers expected when booking this cruise to the Bahamas.
What was the reason for the cruise ship being stuck overnight in Cape Canaveral? If you read the statement from the cruise ship company, it sounds like something minor, simply the fact that the United States Coast Guard had determined that there were life jackets on board that had exhausted their life span, and needed to be replaced. Not a big deal? I do believe life vest are critical pieces of safety equipment that we want to be sure will serve the intended purpose if needed. It obviously was a big enough deal for the Coast Guard to halt the leaving of the cruise ship on its intended itinerary until the problem was fixed. Only when the life jackets arrived the next day could the ship then set sail.
One could maybe excuse certain items from not being inspected on a regular basis, and only replaced when necessary. For example, light bulbs or a sofa could probably be replaced once the bulb burns out or the couch’s material wears out, rather than on a regular basis. However, here we are talking about life vests! One must wonder how often proper inspections are done of all of the critical safety equipment on board the cruise ships that it gets to a point where the Coast Guard refuses to let the cruise ship sail because obviously there are ineffective life vests on board the ship.
In the past, I have reported about serious personal injuries and even deaths involving rescue boats and lifeboats that have broken off from the lifting apparatus and plummeted to the water due to faulty equipment and worn wires. Again, these cases have always raised the very serious question of what is the inspection procedures for such a critical piece of safety equipment, and does the cruise ship companies have the safest possible equipment on board in case there is a disaster.
Of course, cruise ship companies are concerned with the safety of their passengers and crew, but is enough being done? I am sure that if the casino equipment was aged, it would be replaced promptly because it is a big money generator for the cruise ship companies. Is the cruise ship company regulated enough? Do they have too much freedom because of the fact that they register their ships in foreign countries and incorporate in foreign countries? Should passengers be concerned about the safety on board cruise ships? My answer is YES of course passengers should be concerned. I am not discouraging cruise vacations. However, before your next vacation, do some research, and when necessary push your local congressman to vote in favor of laws designed to make cruise ships safety safer for all.
The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2010 was one such law implemented after several congressional hearings leading up to it revealed deficiencies in the regulations of the cruise industry, and in the safety measures for the cruise ship passengers. Although in the recent years there has been positive movements towards increased regulation of the cruise ship industry and much more public awareness of the safety risks that are present on board cruise ships, more clearly still needs to get done.