Christine Duffy's Letter About Cruise Industry Safety

It's been one month since Costa Concordia hit rocks in a tragic accident off the coast of Giglio, Italy. Last Friday, Christine Duffy, president and CEO, Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), wrote an "open letter" to the travel industry about that accident and the safety of cruising.

Travel Agent is printing the letter in its entirety below:

"It has been nearly one month since the tragic Costa Concordia incident, and I wanted to provide you with an update from the cruise industry as we move from the immediate crisis response to focusing on addressing the issues arising from this incident and assuring the public of the safety of cruising.

"We're thankful for the support we've felt from across the travel industry and want to keep all of you - our industry partners - informed of our efforts.

"First and foremost, our deepest condolences go out to the families and loved ones of the victims. This incident was an extraordinary and rare occurrence, which has made it all the more important to understand and apply every possible lesson that can be learned for the future.

"Below are some of our key areas of focus:

"Operational Safety Review: As part of the cruise industry’s continuous improvement efforts to review safety measures, CLIA recently announced the launch of a Cruise Industry Operational Safety Review to respond to maritime safety issues that will be learned from the Concordia incident.

"The Review will include a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety. It will allow for cruise lines to share best practices and procedures for operational safety, consult with independent external experts, and collaborate closely with the International Maritime Organization (IMO), governments and regulatory bodies to efficiently implement necessary changes.

"All CLIA members along with the Passenger Shipping Association in the UK and the European Cruise Council in Brussels are engaged in this effort.

"New Muster Policy: The industry has instituted a new emergency drill policy requiring mandatory musters for embarking passengers prior to departure from port. This new muster drill policy, voluntarily initiated by the associations’ members, exceeds current legal requirements, which mandate a muster of passengers occur within 24 hours of passenger embarkation.

"This is the first best practice to emerge from the industry’s Operational Safety Review, and recommendations will be made on an ongoing basis.

"Public Communications: Public interest and concern about the Concordia incident has been understandably high. People seek better understanding about how and why the accident happened and reassurance that cruising is still safe.

"From day one, we have made communication a high priority – making information and technical experts available to the media, public officials, industry partners and the public generally. We have responded to literally hundreds of inquiries so far, and will continue to do so.

"To this end, days after the incident CLIA and its partners at the European Cruise Council and Passenger Shipping Association conducted a Global Cruise Industry Briefing for media in London at the Passenger Ship Safety Conference on January 19th. You can view the London press conference in which I, along with five of the industry’s top maritime and regulatory experts, responded to questions from the news media here.

"Alongside this event, CLIA experts were on-hand in New York to live stream the press briefing and field questions in person from U.S.-based media. We also have held briefings on Capitol Hill and in Brussels with the European Commission and anticipate participating in further meetings and legislative hearings in the weeks to come.

"Amid all of this activity and interest lies one central question: are cruise ships safe? The answer is resoundingly yes. Evidence clearly shows that compared to virtually any other form of mass recreation or travel, cruises are one of the safest activities around.

"In the five years before the Concordia incident, over 100 million people took a cruise, with 16 casualties worldwide due to marine accident or collision. The cruise industry takes safety very seriously, and often goes well beyond the substantial international and national regulatory requirements.

"While we are proud of our record of safety, it does nothing to minimize our deep anguish over the casualties of the Concordia. As a global industry, we are focusing our efforts on preventing such an occurrence from ever happening again.

"Our number one priority remains the safety and security of our passengers and crews, and as new developments occur in this pursuit, we pledge to keep you updated and informed."

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