The 2012 State of the Industry panel at the Miami Cruise Conference concentrated on industry regulations, public health, social responsibility, safety and more, following the Costa Concordia incident in January.
Kevin Sheehan, CEO of Norwegian Cruise Line, and Stein Kruse, president and CEO of Holland America Line, both said that they had been onboard ships to oversee training and muster drills in the last month and had returned impressed.
“The crew is well trained, they take it seriously,” said Sheehan. “The only thing I could suggest is getting the officers out to be more visible to the guests.”
Kruse added that in the absence of facts, perception can become reality. “The industry is fundamentally safe,” he said. “But, we need to do a better job of explaining and communicating it,” noting biannual U.S. Coast Guard inspections that are “from top to bottom.”
Adam Goldstein, president and CEO of Royal Caribbean International, touched on bridge resource management and a new simulator in Ft. Lauderdale that Royal Caribbean has opened to train its officers.
Meanwhile, Carnival Corporation recently opened its own training simulator in the Netherlands for all its brands, and some lines go as far as sending their officers for psychological evaluations.
Carnival has also instituted a pilot/co-pilot bridge management system on most of the ships under its corporate umbrella.
Gerry Cahill, president and CEO of Carnival Cruise Lines, explained that mock drills run by Carnival for crisis are as “difficult as we can make them.”
He noted that there are two command centers shoreside, one for the technical and nautical team, and one for logistical support for guests, in addition to Carnival’s 1,200-person “care team” which can arrive on site if need be.
“There are a lot of things said about the crew not being trained,” continued Cahill. “That is not true. We spend an awful lot of time training crew onboard.”
Executives underscored that the cruise lines are strictly regulated, with Dan Hanrahan, president and CEO of Celebrity Cruises, highlighting that U.S. Public Health was the most prepared group that boards the ships.
Carnival Corporation also has its HESS (Health, Environment, Safety and Security) committee which audits a number of Carnival ships every year.
Pierfrancesco Vago, CEO of MSC Cruises, said that with up to 90 nationalities sailing aboard MSC ships each year, the cruise lines have safety booklets in every language.
He added: ““In contrary to what the House and Senate think, in Europe we have rules too.”