23 MAY 2012: It’s no joke. The cruise industry and Carnival in particular is absolutely serious about safety, and there are no exceptions. An 84-year-old woman and her 90-year-old husband were made to leave the Seabourn Sojourn because they refused to attend the mandatory safety exercise.
The American couple had booked a 20-day, three-leg cruise from Rome to Hamburg, and had already participated in the drill when the ship left Rome on May 4. At the start of the second leg from Lisbon, another safety drill was announced and passengers summoned on deck.
The woman apparently was feeling unwell, and having participated in the drill before leaving Rome, she decided to pass on this one. Her husband attended both drills.
When the woman didn’t show for the drill, a crew member was reportedly sent to her room and told that she wasn’t feeling well.
Shortly after, the couple were apparently told to disembark, and staff packed their cases and escorted them off the ship.
A Seabourn spokesman said, “Mandatory attendance at the emergency drill conducted prior to every voyage is a strict company policy to ensure the safety of everyone on board. No exceptions are permitted.
“A guest who is too ill to attend may attend a make-up drill when their health permits.”
Seabourn did not elaborate on whether or not that option was offered in this case.
The consequences here certainly seem a bit severe, and one wonders if there was not some other option available.
However there really are not many details available, and with the lesson of the Concordia, one cannot blame the cruise line for a severe stance. Carnival have faced all kinds of criticism from the media and the public, but without knowing the specific circumstances of this incident, condemnation of the cruise line is premature and unfair.
In the past, the rule was to have safety drills within 24 hours of boarding. But after the Costa Concordia accident, major cruise lines announced they would hold safety drills immediately after passengers got on board.