MAY 2013 ISSUE
This month we have had more readers than ever writing about the safety or otherwise of modern cruise ships, at a time when cruise ships have been involved in high-profile incidents around the world. The main incidents were the fire on board Carnival Triumph, the lifeboat accident on Thomson Majesty and most recently the detention in Portland of CMV’s Discovery. And on 4 March National Geographic Sea Lion struck an uncharted rock while departing the Las Perlas Islands, 70 miles from Panama City.
The most high-profile case was that of Carnival Triumph, which suffered an engine room fire, and the aftermath may have put many potential passengers off cruising for life. The stories of discomfort suffered by those on board the ship, disabled in the Gulf of Mexico, were dreadful. Overflowing toilets, no ventilation, endless queuing for food and other miseries were heaped upon the passengers, whose subsequent anger was more than understandable.
Although the cruise industry will eventually bounce back, those who have never taken a cruise are probably less likely to try one than they were one a year ago. And it is not surprising that a recent poll in America found that US adults have less trust and a worse perception of major cruise lines following the Carnival Triumph disaster.
Will any of this have an impact on cruising in the medium or long term? And will potential passengers be put off by such incidents? It is difficult to answer these questions, but the evidence suggests that declines in bookings are relatively short-term. The media coverage of the Costa Concordia incident last year affected Costa’s bookings initially, but now the company is back up to capacity. And, as new cruise ships continue to be ordered, the cruise industry clearly considers that the publicity surrounding these events will soon be forgotten and passengers will continue to demand cruises.