cruisemates newsletter

cruise ship
Commentary by Editor Paul Motter

is crusing safe

We would like to put the sinking of the MV Sea Diamond into perspective. This Greek vessel was not held to the same safety standards as the cruise ships normally covered within the pages of CruiseMates.

The cruise lines readily available to the U.S. cruising public, including Carnival, Celebrity, Holland America, Norwegian Cruise Lines, Princess, Royal Caribbean and all the other names you are familiar with, are all members of the Cruise Line International Association and the International Council of Cruise Lines (recently merged).

These ships visit U.S. ports regularly, where they must pass strict scrutiny of their safety standards during frequent inspections by the U.S. Coast Guard. These inspections include everything safety related; smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, computer navigation systems and the rigging of life boats. Crews on these ships are given monthly safety drills which the Coast Guard will witness without notice, in addition to passenger drills on each cruise.

In truth, we had never heard of the MV Sea Diamond, but we found a vessel we would not recommend to our readers. Built in 1986, refurbished in 1999,and joining Louis Hellenic Cruises of Louis plc, listed on the Cyprus Stock Exchange in 2006, MV Sea Diamond was a mere 22,412 gross tons, yet it carried 1500 passengers in a mere 584 cabins serviced by only four elevators. CLIA- member cruise ships of this size rarely carry more than 300 passengers.

Therefore, we regret that this incident has been portrayed elsewhere as just another "cruise ship disaster" as if there is no distinction between this passenger conveyance vessel, which we would describe more accurately as a ferry, and the true cruise ships to which our pages are dedicated. A ship went down due to a captain's human error, an event of the utmost serious nature. But we can testify that we believe no captain we ever met would allow such a lapse in judgement.

For further discussion, please see our Cruise News and our Cruise News Message Boards.

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