Opinion: Big cruise ships are safe
The terrible tragedy of the Costa Concordia has raised a lot of questions about cruise line safety and even the notion of are the big cruise ships that cruise lines like Costa, Carnival or Royal Caribbean sail still safe. While there is no doubt in anyone's mind that what transpired in Italy with the Concordia was absolutely awful, I think it's time to rid ourselves of the notion that cruise ships aren't safe.
Here's a question: name all of the large cruise ship disasters you can think of ever. Okay, there's obviously the Concordia and the Titanic. But that's all I can think of. The media is in a frenzy over trying to scare the public with these headlines of "Too big to sail?" or "How safe are our cities of the sea?" and they make it seem like large superliner cruise ships are sinking regularly. Don't be fooled, the media is just looking to get as much web page hits and viewership numbers as possible since it's a story that a lot of people have shown interest in.
First and foremost, the Concordia disaster appears to be human error. It wasn't like the engine blew up or the ship's guidance system veered off path or some other technical glitch. Rather, the Captain chose a path too close to shore. It's no different than if an airline pilot decided to change the plane's altitude on his own. Had the Captain chosen a different route, the Concordia would likely be wrapping up her sailing for this week.
As a frequent passenger with Royal Caribbean I've always felt safe on their ships. Unlike the Concordia, Royal Caribbean mandates their safety drill occur before sailing. And I know I've seen the crew practicing using the life boats or other emergency procedures at least once a cruise while in port somewhere.
While you can make an argument about the cruise lines' reputation for looking the other way for personal safety over the years, I disagree that these mega ships we sail on are in any way flawed. Given the track record for cruise ships safety, especially over the last twenty years or so, I think the idea that large cruise ships are unsafe is absolutely wrong.