Editor Adam Coulter speaking on Al Jazeera TV about the Costa Concordia accident

I’ve been doing the rounds of radio and TV (that’s me on Al Jazeera TV on Monday) in the last few days, asking my views on the Costa Concordia accident and whether it will have a long-term impact on people’s desire to cruise.

Obviously only time will tell and I don’t have a crystal ball, but my gut instinct is that long-term it won’t.

Initial reports indicate people are not cancelling future cruises and are continuing to make bookings.

Clearly it doesn’t help that this tragic incident has come in the middle of the cruise booking season’s busiest period, but as I said to the interviewers – when a plane goes people don’t stop booking flights.

One of the big questions people want to know is – are these mega-liners safe?

Modern ships are one of the safest forms of travel, despite reports that they are too big and sitting too high out of the water to allow for easy evacuation.

The ships may have been getting taller, but they have also been getting wider and this width (or beam) means they are extremely stable.

In addition to this it’s worth noting that the shipping industry is heavily regulated and has to comply to a whole range of safety measures including:

• enough lifeboats, life vests and life preservers for everyone on board (many have additional capacity)

• lifeboats must be capable of being loaded and launched within 30 minutes

• ship crews undertake rigorous safety training procedures

• ships are required to hold safety drills within 24 hours of setting sail

If I were to venture an opinion I’d say this last point is the one that will be re-thought. On all the cruises I have taken this drill has been carried out either before setting sail (like on a plane), or just into the cruise. It would seem to make sense to make this law.

I quoted a few stats to you in my previous blog, but I’ve dug out a few more that make interesting reading.

From 2005-2010 cruise ships carried nearly 100 million passengers with the total amount of deaths of 16 – or 0.16 fatalities per million people*. Here are those stats broken down:

Cruise Industry Safety Record

Item

2005

2006

2007

2008

2009

2010

Totals

Passengers (Millions)

14.4

15.2

15.9

16.3

17.6

18.8

98.2

Fatalities

4

4

3

0

0

5

16

* Figures courtesy of GP Wild International

So what happens next? A statement from the Passenger Shipping Association, the UK body which represents cruise lines, said:

“If it becomes clear that corrective [safety] measures are necessary we will work as an industry with the appropriate governments and regulators to ensure recommended measures are adopted.”

Read my previous blog: Cruising is still one of the safest forms of transport