Sunday, March 17, 2013

Cruises from Hell

Been a lot of stories of cruise ship breakdowns.  Carnivale Cruise lines makes the news most often.  The worst was one ship that lost all engine power at sea.  They had to get  towed back to port.  With no electric power, the galley was in trouble, no refrigerators, no stoves.  Cuisine suffered, passengers were fed on MRE's.  Running water stopped running and toilets stopped flushing.  No one was hurt, but that was pure luck.  Passengers and TV news told horror stories for days.  There have been several others resulting in cruises cut short.
  A ship without engine power full of passengers is a disaster waiting to happen.  A little bad weather and a powerless ship will sink.  The weather in the Caribbean isn't as nasty as the North Atlantic, but, they do get hurricanes from time to time.  In the interests of passenger safety we need to insist on cruise ships that never loose power at sea.   
  The real problem is unseaworthy cruise ships.  Any ship of that size ought to have twin screws, twin engines, twin engine rooms so that if one breaks the other keeps the ship moving and the electricity flowing. Everything ought to be duplicate and redundant.    Engine rooms ought to have sprinklers in case of fire.  No single failure should disable the ship.  There are insurance company and government regulations on ship construction.  Are these regulations stiff enough?  And do they apply to cruise ships registered in Panama or other third world sinkholes?     Building ships right costs more than just slapping them together any old which way.  Cruise lines are competitive.  They have an obligation to their stock holders to make a profit. They will take short cuts compromising passenger safety unless there are regulations and inspectors enforcing those regulations. 
   We had senator Chuckie the Schumer on TV calling for a "passenger bill of rights".   Such as the right to a refund, and the right to have the toilets flush.  A lawyer's solution to everything.  That isn't the problem.

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