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Cruise industry adopts new safety rules after Concordia disaster

February 13, 2012|By Mary Forgione | Los Angeles Times Daily Travel & Deal blogger
  • Relatives and loved ones of victims of the Costa Concordia disaster sail to the damaged cruise ship to mark the one-month anniversary.
Relatives and loved ones of victims of the Costa Concordia disaster sail… (Enzo Russo / EPA )

It's been a month since the Costa Concordia struck a reef and tipped over near Italy's Giglio Island, causing the deadliest cruise ship tragedy in modern times and prompting the industry to enact new safety rules.

The cruise industry last week announced a key change in how ships conduct safety drills. Passengers  now will be informed of safety protocols and emergency evacuation procedures, known as "mandatory musters," before ships leave port. (Here's the Passenger Muster Policy.)

Current legal requirements require the drill within 24 hours of passengers boarding the ship, but cruise major lines agreed to the change after the Costa Concordia disaster Jan. 13. Of the 4,200 passengers on board, 17 died and 15 remain missing in the ship partly submerged off the Tuscan coast. 

Florida-based Cruise Lines International Assn., the European Cruise Council in Great Britain and the Passenger Shipping Assn. in Brussels agreed to the new policy and to an operational safety review that would examine safety protocols and other practices in the industry.

"The review will include a comprehensive assessment of the critical human factors and operational aspects of maritime safety," Chief Executive Christine Duffy of Cruise Lines International wrote in a Feb. 10 statement. "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 ... [and] governments and regulatory bodies to efficiently implement necessary changes."

Relatives and loved ones of Costa Concordia victims on Monday sailed out to the ship to throw roses and mark the passing of their loved ones. Also, a memorial service was held Sunday in Rome for the victims.

The ship, owned by Costa Cruises, which is part ofCarnival Corp., hit a reef after the captain allegedly made an unauthorized maneuver to navigate closer to Giglio Island. Capt. Francesco Schettino, who abandoned the ship before passengers had been evacuated, remains under house arrest and accused of manslaughter. Officials began pumping fuel from the damaged ship but have stopped searching for the missing because of unsafe conditions, according to media reports.

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