With the cruise industry’s popularity forecasting considerable growth in the upcoming year, a number of cruise lines are collaborating with a safety organizations to escalate their emergency policies and preparedness with regards to passenger safety.
Beginning in 2016, all travellers looking to book with a cruise line that will include Caribbean, European, Mediterranean and Alaskan destinations will be required to attend mandatory training seminars before departure - regardless of their age, health or physical capabilities.
The seminars will include a number of interactive scenarios, including general first aid training, physical conditioning, situational awareness, combative diving, with particular attention given toward pirate prevention.
According to Barry Wolpaski, vice-president of the International Cruise Line Safety Association, the seminars will be heavily comprised of authentic event simulation, with an emphasis on preparing passengers for every conceivable emergency situation.
“Cruise ships are enormous,” he said. “You can’t reasonably expect there to be staff on hand for emergencies in every corner of the ship. We want to ensure passengers on these vessels have the tools required to deal with whatever may come their way.”
When questioned about the safety of the training seminar themselves, particularly as they pertain to guests below and beyond the age of 18-65, Wolpaski was quick to point out that in an emergency, anyone can be called upon to react.
“These seminars must be realistic in order to be effective,” he maintained.
He also confirmed to PAX that liability is the core purpose for these new policies, saying that moving forward, the cruise industry must uphold a balance between entertainment and vigilance.
“The CLSA thinks it’s great that cruise lines want to find new ways to bring adventure and fun to their ships,” he said, “but they also have a responsibility to promote security and welfare. We can’t be held responsible for a cruise ship being overtaken by, say, buccaneers, and so the most practical way to protect their companies is by training passengers to defend themselves.”
Wolpaski said that thus far, most major cruise lines have been supportive of the requirements, agreeing that empowering their guests is the best way to guard against impending disasters.
According to the CLSA handbook, all guests must attend a minimum of five seminars prior to boarding their cruise, and all seminars will be included in the price of a ticket. Seminar manuals will be distributed at the time of booking, with a chapter dedicated to tips on pre-seminar physical preparedness.
For more information, visit www.antibrigande.com.