Safety concerns and the Costa Concordia

The tragedy of the Costa Concordia off the coast of Italy in the last week will have many thinking about the safety aspects of cruise liners. The chances that you will be caught in a shipwreck are very small but the fact that is has happened is enough.

This accident looks like it may have been the result of human error or faulty navigation equipment
The cruise industry is very safety conscious.
Douglas Ward author of the  Berlitz Complete Guide to Cruising and Ships writes in the latest newsletter: “In light of the Costa Concordia tragedy, it is timely that new IMO (International Maritime Organisation) regulations due to come into effect soon require that all newly built cruise ships have the capability to “return to port” in the event of a major casualty or fire. In other words, all new cruise ships will, in effect, become their own (large) lifeboats. The rules were made because of the sheer size of new ships introduced in the past few years.”
You can read more about the safety program here. 
The other matter that clearly needs to be addressed is that of life boat drill. Many cruise lines – including Cunard, Carnival, Royal Caribbean, Norwegian – hold life boat drill before the ship leaves port – and the fact that on board the Costa Concordia the drill had not yet taken place is part of the tragedy.  I have not witnessed anyone not paying attention at life boat drill but I understand that some passengers on some ships don’t take it seriously. It is to be hoped that they do from now on.