Cruise Ship Passengers Deserve Safety Information

Cruise ships are among the most popular vacation destinations for American travelers, with an estimated 22 million passengers embarking this year. But a series of high-profile cruise ship incidents, at home and abroad, have heightened safety concerns among the public. 

The U.S. Coast Guard, which is responsible for the safety of all vessels in American waters, recently announced that it has begun surprise inspections of cruise ships with patterns of safety problems. But so far, it remains unclear how the results of these inspections will be shared with the public. On May 9, Sens. Jay Rockefeller (D-WV), Ed Markey (D-MA), and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) called on the Coast Guard to detail how it plans to use new inspection information to ensure cruise ship safety and to publish the inspection reports online.

In many cases, it is only after passengers encounter a problem that shoddy maintenance or poor safety precautions become known. Disclosing information about inspections would make customers “privy to the insights and patterns that the Coast Guard already knows, in addition to the ones it discovers in the future,” the senators wrote. 

With additional safety information, consumers can make informed choices about the companies and cruises they spend their money on. Furthermore, the increased public scrutiny may motivate recalcitrant cruise lines to improve their safety performance. An online database of inspection data would help prevent injuries and thwart unsafe cruise lines from flying under the radar.

Image by Flickr user massmatt;
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