Anyone who knows us well knows that we LOVE to cruise. We have been on a number of cruises recently, most recently a 16 day trans Atlantic last winter that was one of my all time favorite vacations.
Stemming from the recent grounding of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy and the extremely sad and unfortunate loss of life that has occurred in that incident, I have received a number of inquiries from concerned friends, family members and acquaintances about whether we will cruise again in the near future.
My answer is unequivocally yes. We love to cruise. We will continue to cruise without the slightest hesitation or worry.
Italy has a long sea faring tradition, and the majority of the senior officers on the cruise ships that we have been on have been Italian. It has always been evident to us through the regular announcements made by the ships officers and by the way that unexpected situations (ie: weather or other issues) were handled that the officers in charge of the ships that we have been on are extremely competent and always had the safety of the passengers and crew as their highest priority.
The people that work on cruise ships are professionals with extensive safety training and from what we have seen, they take the safety aspect of their jobs very seriously. On each cruise we have taken, the passenger safety drills (aka muster drill) are done with the utmost seriousness, and we frequently have seen the crew participating in their own safety drills and mock safety exercises.
It has always been evident to us that the crew on the cruise ships that we have been on give the utmost attention to guest comfort and giving guests a pleasant experience, but that safety is always the number one priority.
From the reports that I am reading now (now that we have gotten past the media hype and bad news spin that the media puts on everything…) the crew (with the obvious exception of the captain who tried to abandon his ship) for the most part acted valiantly with very little information or direction and worked tirelessly to help passengers with the evacuation process. I refer you to this article from Reuters as well as this piece posted by John Heald (the senior cruise director at Carnival) on his blog.
I will not judge all cruise ships based on an incident that happened on one ship because of one particular captain. To do so would be silly reasoning. You are more likely to be hurt or killed on your morning drive to work than you are on a cruise ship, and now would actually be a great time to take a cruise, as I would bet that cruise rates will be at an all time low in the coming months.
Working in the airport, I know what it is like to receive criticism for how you handled a situation that you worked very hard to make right but that you had very little control over, so I can’t even imagine how the crew on this ship feels right now and my heart goes out to them.
As travel professionals, I think that most of us generally have the best interests of our guests in mind at all times…it is too hard of an industry to work in and if you don’t truly love people, you would get burned out pretty quickly. With that in mind, my thoughts and prayers are with the passengers, crew and family members of those that are lost and to anyone else in my travel industry family that has been affected by this tragedy.