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
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2006 GMT (0406 HKT)
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 0102 GMT (0902 HKT)
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1600 GMT (0000 HKT)
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1135 GMT (1935 HKT)
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1312 GMT (2112 HKT)
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 1851 GMT (0251 HKT)
Crystal Wright says racist remarks like those made by black Republican actress Stacey Dash do nothing to get blacks to join the GOP
October 21, 2014 -- Updated 2207 GMT (0607 HKT)
Mel Robbins says by telling her story, Monica Lewinsky offers a lesson in confronting humiliating mistakes while keeping her head held high
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1329 GMT (2129 HKT)
Cornell Belcher says the story of the "tea party wave" in 2010 was bogus; it was an election determined by ebbing Democratic turnout
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 2012 GMT (0412 HKT)
Les Abend says pilots want protocols, preparation and checklists for all contingencies; at the moment, controlling a deadly disease is out of their comfort zone
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0336 GMT (1136 HKT)
David Weinberger says an online controversy that snowballed from a misogynist attack by gamers into a culture war is a preview of the way news is handled in a world of hashtag-fueled scandal
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1223 GMT (2023 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says Paul Krugman makes some good points in his defense of President Obama but is premature in calling him one of the most successful presidents.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 0221 GMT (1021 HKT)
Conservatives can't bash and slash government and then suddenly act surprised if government isn't there when we need it, writes Sally Kohn
October 22, 2014 -- Updated 1205 GMT (2005 HKT)
ISIS is looking to take over a good chunk of the Middle East -- if not the entire Muslim world, write Peter Bergen and Emily Schneider.
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1300 GMT (2100 HKT)
The world's response to Ebola is its own sort of tragedy, writes John Sutter
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 2033 GMT (0433 HKT)
Hidden away in Russian orphanages are thousands of children with disabilities who aren't orphans, whose harmful treatment has long been hidden from public view, writes Andrea Mazzarino
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1722 GMT (0122 HKT)
When you hear "trick or treat" this year, think "nudge," writes John Bare
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0442 GMT (1242 HKT)
The more than 200 kidnapped Nigerian schoolgirls have become pawns in a larger drama, writes Richard Joseph.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1345 GMT (2145 HKT)
Peggy Drexler said Amal Alamuddin was accused of buying into the patriarchy when she changed her name to Clooney. But that was her choice.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2043 GMT (0443 HKT)
Ford Vox says the CDC's Thomas Frieden is a good man with a stellar resume who has shown he lacks the unique talents and vision needed to confront the Ebola crisis
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 0858 GMT (1658 HKT)
How can such a numerically small force as ISIS take control of vast swathes of Syria and Iraq?
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1342 GMT (2142 HKT)
How big a threat do foreign fighters in Syria and Iraq pose to the West? It's a question that has been much on the mind of policymakers and commentators.
October 17, 2014 -- Updated 1221 GMT (2021 HKT)
More than a quarter-million American women served honorably in the Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Now they are home, we have an obligation to help them transition back to civilian life.
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 2027 GMT (0427 HKT)
Paul Begala says Rick Scott's deeply weird refusal to begin a debate because rival Charlie Crist had a fan under his podium spells disaster for the Florida governor--delighting Crist
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0407 GMT (1207 HKT)
The longer we wait to engage on Ebola, the more limited our options will become, says Marco Rubio.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1153 GMT (1953 HKT)
Democratic candidates who run from President Obama in red states where he is unpopular are making a big mistake, says Donna Brazile
October 16, 2014 -- Updated 0429 GMT (1229 HKT)
At some 7 billion people, the world can sometimes seem like a crowded place. But if the latest estimates are to be believed, then in less than a century it is going to feel even more so -- about 50% more crowded, says Evan Fraser
October 20, 2014 -- Updated 1653 GMT (0053 HKT)
Paul Callan says the Ebola situation is pointing up the need for better leadership
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2245 GMT (0645 HKT)
Nurses are the unsung heroes of the Ebola outbreak. Yet, there are troubling signs we're failing them, says John Sutter
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 1700 GMT (0100 HKT)
Dean Obeidallah says it's a mistake to give up a business name you've invested energy in, just because of a new terrorist group
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 2301 GMT (0701 HKT)
Fear of Ebola is contagious, writes Mel Robbins; but it's time to put the disease in perspective
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1744 GMT (0144 HKT)
Oliver Kershaw says that if Big Tobacco is given monopoly of e-cigarette products, public health will suffer.
October 18, 2014 -- Updated 1335 GMT (2135 HKT)
Stop thinking your job will make you happy.
October 15, 2014 -- Updated 0208 GMT (1008 HKT)
Ruben Navarrette says it's time to deal with another scandal involving the Secret Service — one that leads directly into the White House.
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 1125 GMT (1925 HKT)
Americans who choose to fight for militant groups or support them are young and likely to be active in jihadist social media, says Peter Bergen
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1303 GMT (2103 HKT)
Stephanie Coontz says 11 years ago only one state allowed same sex marriage. Soon, some 60% of Americans will live where gays can marry. How did attitudes change so quickly?
October 14, 2014 -- Updated 2004 GMT (0404 HKT)
Legalizing assisted suicide seems acceptable when focusing on individuals. But such laws would put many at risk of immense harm, writes Marilyn Golden.
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 1307 GMT (2107 HKT)
Julian Zelizer says the issues are huge, but both parties are wrestling with problems that alienate voters
October 13, 2014 -- Updated 2250 GMT (0650 HKT)
Mel Robbins says the town's school chief was right to cancel the season, but that's just the beginning of what needs to be done
October 11, 2014 -- Updated 1543 GMT (2343 HKT)
He didn't discover that the world was round, David Perry writes. So what did he do?
ADVERTISEMENT