Cruise groups to adopt new safety policies

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CLIA and the European Cruise Council agreed to adopt three new safety policies as part of the industry’s ongoing Operational Safety Review that was launched after the Costa Concordia shipwreck in Italy on Jan. 13.

Manfredi Lefebvre, chairman of the European Cruise Council — member of the CLIA executive committee and chairman of Silversea Cruises — unveiled the policies at the Passenger Ship Safety conference in Brussels on April 24.

They are as follows:

· Passage planning: Each ship’s passage plan must be thoroughly briefed to all bridge team members well in advance of its implementation. It is to be drafted by a designated officer and approved by the captain. Additionally, existing IMO guidance rules on passage planning are now a mandatory minimum requirement.

· Personnel access to the bridge: To minimize unnecessary disruptions and distractions on the bridge, bridge access is limited to those with operational functions during any period of restricted maneuvering or when increased vigilance is required.

· Lifejackets: In addition to the statutory requirement of providing a lifejacket for each person onboard, the new policy requires that more lifejackets be available on each ship. The number of additional adult lifejackets to be provided must not be less than the total number of persons berthed within the ship's most populated main vertical fire zone. This ensures that the number of lifejackets carried is far in excess of the number of persons actually onboard the ship.

Each policy will be reported to the United Nations' International Maritime Organization (IMO) for consideration at their next session in May.

The new rules follow the industry's announcement on Jan. 27 of an Operational Safety Review in response to the Concordia accident in which 32 people died. The review earlier implemented two regulations; one requires that all muster drills be completed before a ship leaves port and the second enhances reporting requirements ofmarine casualty data.

"The cruise industry is highly regulated and it is this regulatory regime, complied with onboard by our professional and committed officers and crews, that has given the cruise industry a truly remarkable safety record. But as the Concordia incident demonstrates, there is no such thing as perfect safety. We do strive for a perfect commitment to safety,” Lefebvre said at the conference, which was organized by the European Commission.

Christine Duffy, president and CEO of CLIA, said the industry would continue to take proactive measures to improve safety.

"We look forward to working collaboratively to identify any additional operational issues that will achieve our longstanding goal of continuous improvement and innovation in shipboard operations and safety," she said.

The newly adopted policies were reviewed by CLIA’s four-member panel of maritime and safety experts, who are charged with assessing recommendations that emerge from the safety review.

For cruise news and updates, follow Donna Tunney on Twitter @dttravelweekly.

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