New Muster Rule for Cruise Ships in Wake of Italian Disaster

Nearly 15 million people went on cruises last year, an increasingly popular vacation option for families around the world, including in Florida, where a number of ships port along the state’s coasts every day. But while cruising continues to grow as a family getaway choice, it is important to keep in mind the potential dangers and safety issues associated with a jaunt out on the ocean. There is no better example than the tragic story of the Costa Concordia, the Italian cruise ship that partially sunk after slamming into rocks near Tuscany, killing 23 people a little more than a year ago.

The captain of that ill-fated ship now faces manslaughter charges and the Costa Concordia’s owner may ultimately be liable for negligence to the families of those who died. But that won’t bring back the dead. In the wake of this disaster, the Cruise Lines International Association has developed stricter safety guidelines intended to further ensure that cruise ships are operated in the safest possible manner and that passengers are prepared in the event of an emergency. CLIA isn’t the only one.

“Ongoing innovation in safety has been a hallmark of the cruise industry for decades,” Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA said in a statement praising a recent decision by the International Maritime Organization to mandate that cruise ships muster passengers prior to departure. “We remain fully committed as an industry to building on our rich heritage of leadership in improvement of shipboard operations and safety.”

Current rules require that a muster for new passengers occur within 24 hours of their embarkation. During the muster, passengers are instructed on safety measures, such as how and when to use a life vest, the use of ship emergency signals and ship evacuation. Proponents of the new rule say that making the muster required before departure allows passengers to be prepared right away.

CLIA is also pushing for additional crew training, including further instruction on operating lifeboats.

Meanwhile, there are a number of additional steps that passengers can take before boarding a ship to make sure their vacations will be safe, according to a recent story by John Frenaye of NBC News. The first is to do your homework on the company that owns and operates the boat. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention inspects ships for things like cleanliness, repair, food handling, water quality, hygiene and pest management. The results of these inspections are available via the organization’s website. Frenaye also suggests that passengers report any suspicious behavior while aboard, be careful about over-consuming alcohol and be sure to use the in-room safes to lock up valuable possessions.

Despite all of the precautions available, accidents can and do happen. A person injured on-board a cruise ship typically has a number of legal remedies available under state law. If you were injured on a cruise, the experienced Fort Lauderdale cruise ship accident attorneys at Anidjar & Levine can help. Our lawyers have successfully handled all types of cruise ship accident claims, recovering compensation for victims in Florida and elsewhere.

Related blog posts:

Injured on a Cruise Ship? Florida Court Explains Negligence Claims for Injuries at Sea – Stewart-Patterson v. Celebrity Cruises, Inc.

Jurisdiction in Florida Cruise Ship Negligence Cases – Vincenzo v. Carnival

Court Says Cruise Company Might Be Liable for Death at Port of Call – Chaparro v. Carnival