The cruise industry is gearing up for its busy season amid growing concerns about health and safety aboard ships. Time Warner Cable News' Valarie D’Elia filed the following report.
Health and safety on board cruise ships is once again being called into question as the industry enters the heavy booking period known as “wave” season.
The year 2014 is getting off to a rocky start with two shipboard health scares: Royal Caribbean and Princess reporting Norovirus gastrointestinal outbreaks in January.
Typically though, news like this does not faze repeat cruisers.
“It does affect those who have never cruised before. So people thinking about a cruise for the first time will be apprehensive,” says Mary Kleen of Pisa Brothers Travel.
Cruise ship safety took a tragic turn in early February with the drowning of a 4-year-old onboard the Norwegian Breakaway – a ship that is home ported in New York City.
Reportedly, the boy’s 6-year-old brother is hospitalized after being pulled from the same pool, renewing the call for lifeguards on cruise ships.
“I think that cruisers are going to demand this, it’s an aspect of safety that is very important to people. No one should lose their life on a cruise ship,” says Kyle McCarthy of Family Travel Forum.
“It is the parent’s first responsibility to take care of their child, perhaps the cruise industry can do more to ensure that folks are safe on board and that kids are monitored to a more thorough extent,” says Brian Major of TravelPulse.com.
Currently, Disney is the only major cruise line with lifeguards, a policy implemented after a child nearly drowned last year.
Another child drowned onboard a Carnival cruise ship which, like Norwegian cruise line, does not employ lifeguards.
“If they don’t have one and they say ‘Swim at your own risk’, they mean it, you’re on your own,” says McCarthy.
In a recent poll by cruisecritic.com, most respondents say it’s not the responsibility of the cruise line to look after the safety of onboard swimmers. 27 percent favor them while 18 percent think they should be present on family oriented ships.