January 8, 2013
(5:30 p.m. EST) -- Immediately after the Costa Concordia tragedy, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) created a Global Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review to inspect the safety practices of the cruise industry and suggest improvements. In the almost 12 months since the accident, the review board has suggested 10 changes. All were accepted by the industry and implemented.
Passenger Muster. The first safety policy change to be mandated after the Concordia disaster was announced in February, less than one month after the accident. Under the new policy, all ships must conduct muster drills before departing from port. Read more.
Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions. Four months later, the cruise industry adopted a policy dictating the 12 common elements that must be included in all muster drills. Among the required elements are: when and how to don a lifejacket; description of emergency signals; location of lifejackets; location of muster stations; emergency routing systems and more. Read more.
Recording the Nationality of Passengers. Implemented at the same time as the muster common elements policy, this rule requires the nationality of each passenger onboard be recorded and "made readily available" to search-and-rescue personnel. Read more.
Bridge Access. As part of a three-policy sweep in April, cruise lines also agreed to adopt stricter rules regarding bridge access, particularly during "restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required." Such times can include when a ship is entering or leaving a port, while sailing through narrow or shallow waterways or in areas of unusually high vessel traffic. Read more.
Excess Lifejackets. Part of the same three-policy change, ships must now carry more life jackets than are legally required. Legally, ships are required to carry a life jacket for every berth, which can be higher than the number of persons onboard, plus five percent. As a result of the policy, the number of additional lifejackets must not be less than the total number of persons staying within the ship's most populated section. Read more.
Passage Planning. The third policy adopted in April augments international law that requires ships to create and file a voyage plan before setting sail. Language in the new policy explicitly requires for the plan to be "drafted by a designated officer and approved by the master" well in advance of the sailing. Read more.
Life Boat Loading for Training Purposes. Adopted in September, this policy requires cruise ship crewmembers must practice launching and loading lifeboats at least once every six months to ensure familiarity with lifeboat operations. Drills must be performed while at sea and lifeboats must be filled to capacity with crewmembers and maneuvered in the water. Read more.
Location of Lifejacket Stowage. Part of another three-policy announcement, this one in November, this policy complements the Excess Lifejackets policy and requires that extra life jackets, equal to or greater in number than required by law, must be stowed in close proximity to either muster stations or lifeboat embarkation points on all newly constructed ships -- defined as those for which the building contract is placed on or after July 1, 2013. Read more.
Harmonization of Bridge Procedures. The second of three policies announced in November dictates that operating procedures on cruise ship bridges must be consistent not just between ships within a fleet but among commonly owned brands, as well. Read more.
Securing Heavy Objects. The third November policy mandates that all cruise ships must always secure heavy objects either permanently or during severe weather. Such objects can include, but are not limited to, pianos, televisions, treadmills, slot machines and laundry equipment. Cruise lines must also perform routine shipwide inspections to ensure such objects are secured properly. Read more.
--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor