Maritime law allows a cruise ship 24 hours from the time it sets sail to conduct a muster drill, where all passengers are physically assembled and given instructions concerning safety procedures. In order to avoid inconveniencing passengers shortly after they board, some cruise lines opt to conduct the required muster drill after a ship has already set sail. The COSTA CONCORDIA tragedy, in which the ship struck a reef just a few hours into its journey, has sparked calls for improved muster drill procedures.
According to media reports, the 700 passengers who boarded the COSTA CONCORDIA in Civitavecchia a few hours before the ship ran aground were not scheduled to receive a muster drill until the following day. In fact, many passengers reportedly fled the ship without ever having received evacuation instructions. The scene that fateful night has been described by passengers as chaotic and unorganized.
Carnival Cruise Line, the parent corporation of Costa Cruises, needs to reassess its lifeboat drills and emergency response procedures. Several other cruise lines, including Oceania, Regent Seven Seas, Royal Caribbean and Crystal Cruises, have responded to the COSTA CONCORDIA tragedy by announcing they will begin holding all muster drills on the day of embarkation or departure. While this may be an improvement over holding muster drills the following day, many people think it’s not enough and would like to see these drills held not only on the same day as embarkation, but before the ship leaves port.
Even if cruise lines follow through on improving muster drill practices, it won’t make up for the lives lost in the COSTA CONCORDIA disaster. If you were injured in this tragic cruise ship accident or lost a loved one, contact a qualified maritime trial lawyer at Latti & Anderson LLP today to ensure your legal rights are protected.
Latti & Anderson LLP – Boston maritime attorneys