After Concordia: Cruise Industry Adds More Safety Policies

June 26, 2012

(4:45 p.m. EDT) -- The flurry of new safety policies that began in the weeks following January's Concordia accident continues with the adoption of two more safety-related rules, both effective immediately.

Announced by the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC), the policies standardize the required elements for muster drills and emergency instructions, and require the addition of passengers' nationalities to their cruise records.

Although all 12 of the required muster elements are already common practices on most major cruise lines, Mike McGarry, senior vice president of public affairs for CLIA, told Cruise Critic, "Our industry's safety experts believe that consistent messaging in this area will improve the effectiveness of delivery of this important information to passengers.

"CLIA's oceangoing members have identified 12 common elements of musters and emergency instructions to reinforce and supplement the legal requirements, as well as to help provide greater consistency in carrying out these most important safety preparedness exercises," he added.

Peter Shanks, Cunard's president and managing director, also weighed in on the new policy.

"We are adopting a universal approach to safety, whereas before it was rather piecemeal and done line by line," he told Cruise Critic. "This is the reassurance that is needed for first timers."

The 12 common elements mandated by the Common Elements of Musters and Emergency Instructions policy are:

  • When and how to don a lifejacket
  • Description of emergency signals and appropriate responses in the event of an emergency
  • Location of lifejackets
  • Where to muster when the emergency signal is sounded
  • Method of accounting for passenger attendance at musters both for training and in the event of an actual emergency
  • How information will be provided in an emergency
  • What to expect if the Captain orders an evacuation of the ship
  • What additional safety information is available
  • Instructions on whether passengers should return to cabins prior to mustering, including specifics regarding medication, clothing and lifejackets
  • Description of key safety systems and features
  • Emergency routing systems and recognizing emergency exits
  • Who to seek out for additional information

A second new policy requires that the nationality of each passenger onboard be recorded and "made readily available" to search and rescue personnel.

New safety policies, many just taking standard procedures in place and mandating them, began cropping up in February, when the industry first instituted a rule requiring mandatory emergency muster drills for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. More policy changes were announced April, including those that restricted bridge access and clarified pre-cruise passage planning protocol.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor