SalemNews.com, Salem, MA

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April 11, 2012

100 years later, Titanic-like disaster remains a risk

(Continued)

John Deiner, managing editor of CruiseCritic.com, said passengers are more safety-conscious since the Costa Concordia accident.  "People are looking at the news, seeing that these things do happen, and they’re taking (safety) a lot more seriously," he said.

The Costa Concordia accident occurred before the passengers and crew held a mandatory muster drill, during which passengers don their life jackets and meet in a designated area to review safety information. Maritime regulations required the drill within 24 hours of setting sail. The Costa Concordia ran aground before then.

Deiner said new regulations now require that all cruise ships conduct muster drills before the ship leaves port.

"(Before) a lot of people were very lackadaisical about the muster … they don't want to go, they have a drink in their hand," he said. Recently, he added,  a couple on a Holland America cruise was kicked off the ship for skipping the drill, a sign cruise lines are taking safety more seriously.

"It’s important to go, and more importantly, you want to pay attention," he said.

Deiner urges travelers to learn where life jackets are kept, try them on so they know how they fit, and review the ship map on the back of the cabin door so they know how to escape in an emergency.

It seems most veteran cruisers weren't spooked by the Costa Concordia disaster. A poll conducted by Cruise Critic shortly after the accident found almost 67 percent of the site's users were not concerned, and another 29 percent said they were worried but would still cruise.

"What’s reassuring to me and to everyone here is that it (major accident) is so rare," Deiner said. "Costa Concordia really caught everyone off-guard."

Butler, the maritime historian, worries that despite changes in safety rules and technology, another Titanic-like disaster is possible.

"I don’t want to be a doomsayer… I have nothing against the cruise industry," he said. "But there is a major disaster waiting to happen."

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Kayla Castille is CNHI's director of online content. Contact her at kcastille@cnhi.com.

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