The cruise industry is still spinning from the deadly accident over the weekend in Italy. I have read many reports from those who have cruises booked in the near future that they are now “scared” to get on a ship. Who can blame them? If you have never been on a ship, the images of the 3,000 passenger Costa Concordia tipped over on its side half submerged in water can make many have second doubts about cruise vacations. These images which have been plastered all over the television and internet are misleading people over the safety of cruises.
While the images reminded us of the possibilities of things that can go wrong at sea, the safety record of luxury liners in this day and age is incredible considering the size of the ships and the number of passengers on board. In 2011, over 19 million people worldwide took a cruise. The number of cruise related deaths was less than 10. Every day in America, someone dies in a car accident every 13 minutes. Yet, we don’t even think twice about getting in our cars and driving to work, the mall, and the grocery store. There are millions of people who will never step foot on an airplane, even though statistically is remains the safest way to travel. Why? Those images can easily scare those who do not routinely fly or cruise.
Carnival Cruise Line made a statement over the weekend that the demand for cruises in the near term will be weak. January is normally a prime time for new bookings. A travel agent with KHM Travel told me that all of her clients with cruises booked have canceled their cruises with the exception of one.
This lower demand will likely mean that prices will come down as the cruise lines try to filled up empty cabins. As a travel agent, we should do our best to reassure our clients and potential clients of the safety in taking a cruise. This was the worst accident in 40 years and only 4th worst of all time. (the Titanic remains #1). Out of the top 10 worse cruise ship disasters, several of them had no casualties. What other travel niche can make that claim?
With all the modern technology the ships have, this type of accident should never happen. The captain went off the course that he was supposed to take. The courses that are laid out for the captains to follow are completely safe and are traveled many times a month and year. This incident will bring a heightened awareness with all the other captains on how important it is to not deviate from the courses they are to take, especially near land. The safety of cruise ships will be better than ever after this accident.
It is sad that 6 lost their lives in this accident and there are still a dozen or more missing. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family and friends who lost a love one or who are still waiting to hear from someone missing.
Ben Souza is a travel agent with KHM Travel Group.