Are Cruise Ships Safe?

Yes, Cruise Ships Are Safe!

Guest Blog By Capt. John L. Beath

Costa Cruise Line’s recent disaster has many wondering if cruise ships are safe. Blame for the terrible and avoidable accident has been squarely blamed on Captain Francesco Schettino – a captain with the cruise line since 2006. This tragedy could have and should have been avoided by simply following company protocols. Schettino’s decision, for whatever reason, to deviate from pre-programmed routing put the 951-foot Concordia far too close to Italy’s Giglio Island. After hitting a submerged reef the captain steered the ship toward shore but failed again to follow proper safety procedure and protocol. Schettino’s complete lack of procedure, common sense and poor leadership led to his cowardly act of abandoning ship long before his guests.

While this disaster points squarely at this captain, aka “Captain Coward” it should not reflect on the hundreds of excellent captains who regularly pilot their cruise ships safely throughout the world. Carnival Corporation owns Costa Cruise Lines and will no doubt have a say in future safety protocols and back up plans in the event of an emergency.

Safety First

crew of the Carnival Liberty conducting lifeboat drill

On a recent back-to-back cruise aboard the Carnival Liberty, my wife and I went through a safety drill before leaving the dock on each seven day cruise. Some passengers hate these drills but they are mandatory and familiarize passengers with their muster station. The muster station is where you should report in the event an abandon ship order is given. Reports from passengers of the Concordia say they did not have a muster drill before leaving port. Once again, this indicates poor leadership and bad safety procedures by one man, Captain Schettino.

cruise ship safety drill

Carnival Liberty crew conducting lifeboat drill

While in port during our recent Carnival Cruise, the captain of the Liberty conducted several safety drills for his crew which included lowering the lifeboats. This drill took place when guests were ashore enjoying their “port time.” The efficiency of the drill impressed me, as crew members methodically went through the safety drill.  These drills keep crew members practiced on safety procedures and help to ensure each lifeboat works properly.

Captain on the bridge of Carnival Liberty

The bridge offers a view of where you've been as well as where you're going


More than 100 passengers have joined a lawsuit to be filed in the U.S. and Italy against Costa Cruises. These passengers are reportedly asking for more than one million each, which seems unreasonable to me unless they were injured. Yes, this was a horrific accident, but should passengers who made it safely to shore receive one million dollars each? I don’t think so. Costa Cruises says they will give a full refund to passengers aboard the Concordia and will offer 30 percent off future cruises if they stay loyal to the brand. This too seems a bit unreasonable to me. In the end the lawyers and the courts will decide these claims and lawsuits. Costa Cruises will also pay for all valuables and personal items lost during the disaster.

The question remains, “Are cruise ships safe?”

Without question I believe cruise ships are safe and will be safer as a result of this avoidable accident.Carnival Corporation is the largest cruise company in the world and has the ability to effect change in safety policies and procedures throughout the industry. My wife and I will continue cruising and have already planned a Trans Atlantic cruise with Carnival Cruises.

Cruise Ships are safe and one of the most fun and affordable vacations in the world. We should not condemn Costa Cruises or an entire industry because of the mistakes of one captain.

About the author: John L. Beath holds a United States Coast Guard Master’s License, has gone through numerous boating safety courses and is a freelance writer focusing on the outdoors, travel and cruising. His website is

Bridge, Carnival Liberty

Captain by the control panel, which extends the full length of the bridge

 Captains with Carnival Corporation have modern, sophisticated bridges with high-tech electronics. There’s always more than one officer on the bridge and the captain is ALWAYS close by in case of emergency.

Captain on the bridge, Carnival Liberty

The bridge has a window in the floor


The captain of the Carnival Liberty shows the port wing station where the captain can dock the ship and look straight down through the Plexiglas floor.

About LBcruiseshipblogger

MyCruiseStories blog tells stories about adventures in cruising on ships big and small. Things to do onboard and in port. Anything connected to cruising. Also food, travel, recipes, towel animals, and the occasional random blog.
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5 Responses to Are Cruise Ships Safe?

  1. John says:

    There is no question the Cruise Ships are safe , the technology is nothing short of spectacular. The problem was never the ship. The people are the problem. The ships systems would have informed the Bridge there was a leak within a few min. The ships Engineering Officer would have known and made an assessment of the damage and impact on the ships performance. The Engineering Officer would have known the ship would sink – in fact everyone on the Bridge would have know the ship was in trouble within 10 min at the very longest.

    People are the problem. In the case of Carnival from the very top down. The CEO from Carnival corporation took 4 days to get his ass to Italy, the First Officer did not call the Coast Guard until it was to late and then their is the Captain. All people issues and all the responsibility of Carnival.

    It’s hard to see how this type of accident could not happen again. it just take a cavalier Captain.

    • What people don’t understand is that Carnival Corporation and Carnival Cruise Line are not the same thing. Carnival Corporation is the parent company of several cruise lines besides Costa and Carnival Cruise Line. Most captains are very responsible, odds are the rest of the crew on that ship sadly took their cue from their captain, or had no guidance to do otherwise. I feel safer on a cruise ship than driving down the road where you never know what the car next to you or behind you might do.

    • John good point, thanks for your reply.
      John L. Beath

  2. Most captains are very responsible and I was shocked to hear about the Concordia captain. In all seriousness there is no need for human pilots in this day and age.


    Just so you all know. That is captain Ettore Bovo

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