Skip to main content

A cruise is a safe and healthy vacation

By Bud Darr, Special to CNN
February 22, 2013 -- Updated 1403 GMT (2203 HKT)
The cruise industry is under strict international regulation and oversight, industry official Bud Darr says in response to criticism.
The cruise industry is under strict international regulation and oversight, industry official Bud Darr says in response to criticism.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Bud Darr objects to op-ed that criticized cruise industry
  • He says the industry is heavily regulated and monitored under maritime laws
  • Cruise ships entering U.S. ports must be examined by Coast Guard, he says
  • Despite headlines and criticism, fires and illnesses are rare on ships, Darr says

Editor's note: Bud Darr is senior vice president of technical and regulatory affairs at Cruise Lines International Association Inc.

(CNN) -- A recent commentary by James Walker in CNN.com's opinion section grossly mischaracterized the cruise industry's practices and record, claiming that the industry is "largely unregulated" and "largely accountable to countries like Panama or the Bahamas." Nothing could be further from the truth.

Essentially every aspect of the cruise industry is heavily regulated and monitored under national and international maritime laws for many purposes, the most important of which is to protect the safety of passengers and crew.

A U.N. agency -- the International Maritime Organization -- mandates global standards for the safe operation of cruise ships through its 170-member governments, including the United States. These regulations are extensive and wide-ranging. They start with the design and construction of the ship and extend to the operation of the vessel, the emergency equipment on board, and scenarios for emergency situations, including the evacuation of a ship.

Bud Darr
Bud Darr

Regulation of the cruise industry involves many levels of enforcement -- the international; the flag state or the flag of the country that the ship is registered in; and the port state (the country a ship is visiting.)

For example, cruise ships that operate from U.S. ports are subject to strict U.S oversight and enforcement of international laws and regulations as well as all applicable federal laws of the United States. This oversight enforcement is carried out primarily by the U.S. Coast Guard.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Opinion: What cruise lines don't want you to know

Most significantly, this means that any ship entering a U.S. port, no matter what country's flag it sails under, is subject to U.S. Coast Guard examination for compliance with international and applicable U.S. regulatory standards, especially those related to safety.

The coast safety regulation enforcement of the U.S. Coast Guard begins at the concept or design stage for new cruise ships and continues throughout the ship's entire time of service. At any time, the responsible Coast Guard captain of a port can prevent any cruise ship from departing if a serious violation of any regulation is found or any dangerous condition exists.

Contrary to what the op-ed's author says, significant fires on board ships are rare. The global cruise industry has robust regulatory measures to protect passengers and crew. Fire safety regulations are continuously enhanced and have reduced the frequency and severity of fires. The last major overhaul of fire safety regulations entered into force in 2010, and those regulations remain the subject of continuous review and updating.

Passengers file suit against Carnival
Conan: Insult comic dog suing Carnival

Every oceangoing ship in the Cruise Line International Association fleet must carry firefighting teams made up of crew members. They receive formal firefighting training and regular drills to ensure a rapid response in the unlikely event of a fire. The average oceangoing cruise ship has about 4,000 smoke detectors, 500 fire extinguishers, 16 miles of sprinkler piping, 5,000 sprinkler heads and six miles of fire hose.

Opinion: My celebration trip on the Carnival Triumph

Jobs in the cruise industry are highly sought after, and crew members have opportunities for career advancement. The industry offers opportunities not available for many crew members in their home countries, allowing them to support families, pay for college and even start their own businesses.

Beyond wages, crew members are provided free room and board in a clean, well-maintained environment. They receive cruise-line sponsored medical care at no cost. And the cruise industry maintains strict workplace standards set by the International Maritime Organization and the International Labor Organization -- both U.N. agencies.

The cruise industry also takes steps to prevent its people from bringing norovirus, which causes gastrointestinal illness, on board. About 10.3 million passengers embarked on Cruise Lines International Association ships from a U.S. port in 2012. There were 16 cases of cruise ship norovirus outbreaks reported to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention last year, involving about 2,600 passengers out of those 10.3 million. To put this in perspective, the CDC reports norovirus causes about 20 million cases of gastroenteritis a year.

Opinion: How Carnival can clean up the PR mess

The cruise industry is subject to strict international regulation and oversight and fully promotes policies and practices that foster a safe, secure and healthy cruise ship environment. There's no doubt that cruising is one of the safest, affordable and enjoyable vacation experiences available today, which explains why a record 20.6 million passengers worldwide enjoyed a cruise vacation in 2011.

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter.

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of Bud Darr.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1315 GMT (2115 HKT)
Michael Werz says in light of the spying cases, U.S. is seen as a paranoid society that can't tell friends from foes.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1317 GMT (2117 HKT)
Eric Liu explains why in his new book, he calls himself "Chinese American" -- without a hyphen.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1512 GMT (2312 HKT)
John Bare says hands-on learning can make a difference in motivating students to acquire STEM skills.
July 11, 2014 -- Updated 1320 GMT (2120 HKT)
Karl Alexander and Linda Olson find blacks and whites live in urban poverty with similar backgrounds, but white privilege wins out as they grow older.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1620 GMT (0020 HKT)
Frida Ghitis says a poll of 14 Muslim-majority nations show people are increasingly opposed to extremism.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1828 GMT (0228 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says spending more on immigation enforcement isn't going to stop the flow of people seeking refuge in the U.S.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 2048 GMT (0448 HKT)
Faisal Gill had top security clearance and worked for the Department of Homeland Security. That's why it was a complete shock to learn the NSA had him under surveillance.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1841 GMT (0241 HKT)
Kevin Sabet says the scientific verdict is that marijuana can be dangerous, and Colorado should be a warning to states contemplating legalizing pot.
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2047 GMT (0447 HKT)
World War I ushered in an era of chemical weapons use that inflicted agonizing injury and death. Its lethal legacy lingers into conflicts today, Paul Schulte says
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1137 GMT (1937 HKT)
Tom Foley and Ben Zimmer say Detroit's recent bankruptcy draws attention to a festering problem in America -- cities big and small are failing to keep up with change.
July 10, 2014 -- Updated 1201 GMT (2001 HKT)
Mel Robbins says many people think there's "something suspicious" about Leanna Harris. But there are other interpretations of her behavior
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 1753 GMT (0153 HKT)
Amy Bass says Germany's rout of Brazil on its home turf was brutal, but in defeat the Brazilian fans' respect for the victors showed why soccer is called 'the beautiful game'
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 2107 GMT (0507 HKT)
Aaron Carroll explains how vaccines can prevent illnesses like measles, which are on the rise
July 9, 2014 -- Updated 0008 GMT (0808 HKT)
Aaron Miller says if you think the ongoing escalation between Israel and Hamas over Gaza will force a moment of truth, better think again
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 1903 GMT (0303 HKT)
Norman Matloff says a secret wage theft pact between Google, Apple and others highlights ethics problems in Silicon Valley.
July 8, 2014 -- Updated 2237 GMT (0637 HKT)
The mother of murdered Palestinian teenager Mohammed Abu Khder cries as she meets Palestinian president Mahmoud Abbas in Ramallah, West Bank on July 7, 2014.
Naseem Tuffaha says the killing of Israeli teenagers has rightly brought the world's condemnation, but Palestinian victims like his cousin's slain son have been largely reduced to faceless, nameless statistics.
ADVERTISEMENT