Cruise Lines Adopt Additional Safety Policies

November 15, 2012

(1:40 p.m. EST) -- With the one-year anniversary of the Concordia disaster looming, the flurry to adopt new cruise ship safety policies continues.

The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) and the European Cruise Council (ECC) announced today that three new policies -- covering life jacket storage, securing heavy objects and synchronizing bridge procedures within fleets -- would go into effect immediately.

"The broad range of these three new policies … demonstrates that safety improvements are being made wherever there is scope to do so," said Manfredi Lefebvre d'Ovidio, ECC chairman.

The Location of Life Jacket Stowage policy complements the Excess Life Jackets policy, which was instituted in April and requires ships to carry even more extra life jackets than required by law. The new policy requires that extra life jackets, equal to or greater in number than required by international regulations and the ship's flag state, must be stowed in close proximity to either muster stations or lifeboat embarkation points on all newly constructed ships. Currently, extra lifejackets are stored in public spaces, at the muster stations or in lifeboats, David Peikin, director of public affairs for CLIA, told Cruise Critic. For the purpose of this policy, newly constructed ships are defined as those for which the building contract is placed on or after July 1, 2013.

Under the Securing Heavy Objects policy, oceangoing members of CLIA and the ECC 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. In order for the policy to be successful, each line must have a clearly defined definition of heavy/severe weather that takes into account the size of the ship and other information.

"Most cruise ships have had elements of this policy in place," Peikin said. "Formalizing and enhancing existing industry best practices into a single best-in-class policy further safeguards passenger and crew well-being." Full implementation of the new policy will be completed in the coming months.

The Harmonisation of Bridge Procedures policy was created to force operating procedure consistency within individual cruise companies and among commonly owned brands.

CLIA member lines were already in various stages of harmonization of these procedures, Peikin said. With consistent bridge procedures in place, bridge crew who may be rotating among different ships will always know what is expected of them and what the rules are.

"While the policy goes into effect immediately, harmonization of bridge procedures is in progress and is expected to be completed in the coming months," he added.

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 in April, including those that restricted bridge access and clarified pre-cruise passage planning protocol. Two more policies were adopted in June that standardized the required elements of muster drills and required the addition of passenger nationalities to their cruise records.

--by Dori Saltzman, News Editor