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It’s not just the captain of that Italian cruise liner who should be held responsible, but the cruise line itself, and every other passenger cruise line, and the governments who regulate them. The reputations of all have been besmirched.  After all, it’s not just a cruise; it’s a mission for the captain and crew to ply potentially dangerous waters in ships the size of skyscrapers, and protect the safety of all aboard. Crisis prevention and crisis response are more important than the mere entertainment of those aboard.

I call for the review and re-certification of every captain of every cruise ship afloat, along with new, higher standards in training, supervision and discipline for professional navigation staff. This captain abandoned his ship, while there were still hundreds of panicked passengers aboard, and then refused the coast guard’s demands that he go back aboard to direct the evacuation. And I understand he joined the line as a safety officer! What a bad joke. And I hear that it’s not unusual for liner captains to take their craft illegally and inappropriately close to shore to give passengers good views. And I understand the passenger safety drills were not conducted at the beginning of the cruise, as required.

All this points not just to a bad captain, but to bad selection, training, enforcement of regulations and supervision by the cruise lines. These are not just floating hotels, these are vessels on a mission, and their mission is safety first.  There needs to be tighter regulations, better training and supervision and enforcement, or these cruise lines are going out of business. The reputation of the cruise industry has been severely damaged by this and related incidents, and the fight to restore it will be a long and difficult one. And it should be.

January 2012

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