Some Cruise-Safety Questions Answered

6:33 PM, Jan 17, 2012   |    comments
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The cruise ship Costa Concordia lies stricken off the shore of the island of Giglio, in Giglio Porto, Italy. (Photo by Laura Lezza/Getty Images)

We have been working with our sister newspaper USA Today on cruise safety and 13 WMAZ talked to some maritime experts about some of your questions and what you need to know before you go on board.

What about safety drills on board?

The International Maritime Organization -- a united nations agency that governs passenger shipping---requires cruise ships to conduct a safety drill within 24 hours of sailing.

This drill should instruct you on how to use a life jacket... And where you should gather in case of an emergency.

Rod Sullivan, a maritime expert in Jacksonville, said you need to know both of those things. And if you are travelling internationally, you should make sure you can communicate with the crew.

"The bedroom steward is the very first person who is supposed to be able to tell you where to go and what to do in case of an accident," said Sullivan, a maritime lawyer. "So you should talk to your bedroom steward make sure you can communicate with them in English, and they understand English well, and they understand what you are saying."

Should you be concerned about the size of the ship?

It depends on who you ask. A spokesman for a Britain maritime trade union told USA Today that the Costa Concordia should be a wake-up call to regulators as cruise ships get even larger.

In a statement, he wrote that they are concerned about the increased size of passenger ships and that the number of people on board raise questions about evacuation.

But Sullivan says that he would feel safer on a bigger newer ship.

"There are far more accidents that occur on casino vessels and ferries and smaller boats of that nature then there are on large cruise ships like this particular vessel," said Sullivan.

How can you tell if your cruise ship has had any safety problems?

Brad Schoenwald of the U.S. Coast Guard's Cruise Ship National Center of Expertise walked us through their website.

First you can click the tab that says vessel search, then you can type in the vessel's name. And you then see a list of different carnival ships come up.

You can click on each name and the site will tell you how big it is and when it was inspected.

If you then click the button submit again---you will find information on whether those inspectors found safety deficiencies.

Schoenwald said in general cruising is very safe---and he says that you should feel especially safe in a ship that is departing from a U.S. Port.  Here is a link to the website.

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