The US, European, and UK based Cruise Industry Associations have finally signed a policy stating that muster drills must take place prior to departure. Following the devastating cruise ship accident crash of the Costa Concordia last January, wherein 23 cruise ship passengers were found dead, scores of injuries, and 7 others are still missing concern about how the evacuation process was handled emerged. 6 weeks later, a second disaster occurred on board the Costa Allegra during an engine fire, disabling the ship and leaving its’ passengers stranded in the Indian Ocean. Again, questions arose about why there was such mass chaos on board during these emergencies.
Since, cruise ship laws did not require that passengers be briefed immediately before the ship sets sail, many on board the Concordia and Allegra cruises were never informed about how to proceed when a true emergency occurred. The main reason why in the case of the Concordia, was because almost 700 new passengers boarded the ship after it had been sailing for 3.5 hours. However, the next briefing was not scheduled to take place until the next day.
Miami Martime and personal injury lawyer Philip m. Gerson of Gerson & Schwartz, PA says “its about time the cruise lines start taking a more proactive approach towards passenger safety.” In fact, the U.S Cruise Lines International Association, Passenger Shipping Association, and the European Cruise Council have all agreed to a new policy which requires every cruise ship in the world to conduct safety drills within 24 hours of embarkation. Stricter policies, are currently in place, and were implemented by the International Maritime Organization. Consequently, if a passenger is unwilling to participate in these safety drills or briefing he or she will be asked to leave the ship immediately. Passengers are told all of this during the pre- drill announcements.