Whether its norovirus, man overboard situations or claims of environmental degradation, travel agents are constantly faced by clients buying into the ‘cruise crisis’ myth.
You’ve heard them all, but do you know where they come from or how to counter them?
As we reported earlier this week, CLIA’s Australasian managing director, Joel Katz, said ‘click bait’ and ‘fake news’ has a lot to do with it.
“From Norovirus to rough seas and man overboard situations, there are many cruise “crises” covered in the media,” Katz told Travel Weekly.
“Whether it’s real or fake news, when news breaks it can have a negative impact on business, and travel agents are at the front-line of having to overcome clients’ concerns when a negative story hits the headlines.”
To help agents bust these cruise myths and up their sales, Katz provided us with this handy guide to give you the real facts about the cruise industry.
Norovirus is not a “cruise ship” illness
“With cruise ship “outbreaks” regularly appearing in the news, awareness of Norovirus – an extremely common and highly contagious virus that causes gastroenteritis — has been significantly raised because of gloom-and-doom reports on television, online and in the papers.
“Norovirus is not a “cruise ship” virus, nor does it limit itself to sea-going vessels.
“Noroviruses are the most common causes of viral enteritis worldwide. Norovirus spreads swiftly wherever there are many people in any small area, including nursing homes, restaurants, hotels, schools etc.
“Norovirus is associated with cruise travel simply because health officials are required to track illnesses on ships (and are not at hotels and resorts); therefore, outbreaks are found and reported more quickly at sea than on land.”
Cruising is a safe and secure holiday
“It is a myth that the cruise industry is unregulated and crimes are not investigated. Cruising is one of the safest holiday options.
“The safety and security of passengers and crew are the no 1 priority. SMS (Safety Management System) and SOLAS (Safety of Life at Sea) rules mandate and regulates the operation of cruise ships. Multiple layers of reporting and audits overseen by flag state, classification societies and local authorities (state and federal).
“Allegations of major crimes extremely rare and comparison of cruise industry with land-based stats show lower serious crime rates which is particularly noteworthy given high density of passengers and crew in relatively small space.
“The industry undertakes rigorous risk analysis/checks of manifests and passengers, and there are regional protocols to ensure that all crimes reported are investigated, regardless of where ship is based or flagged.
“Ship staff undertake responsible Service of Alcohol training equivalent to land based, and crewmembers are trained to handle unique issues that arise at sea and in crime prevention, detection and reporting.”
It is impossible to “fall” overboard or be knocked overboard by a rogue wave – this just does not happen.
“Cruise ships remain one of the safest ways to travel, and incidents of man overboard on cruise ships are a very rare occurrence. Without exception, when investigations of MOB incidents are concluded, it is found that they were the result of an intentional or reckless behavior.
“Of the more than 24.7 million global cruise passengers in 2016, there were nine overboard incidents involving passengers and three overboard incidents involving crew.
“As Cruise Ship capacity increases, operational incidents have decreased, resulting in cruise lines having a better safety record than other modes of leisure transportation.
“Safety regulations, such as uniform minimum railing and balcony heights, structural barriers and other requirements are in place to prevent passengers who are acting responsibly from falling off a cruise ship. CLIA’s Cruise Lines Members have taken the initiative to participate in the development of a new International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard on “systems for the detection of persons while going overboard from ships””
The Cruise industry cares about the environment
“No single industry relies more on the splendour of our planet’s oceans and seas, nor the pristine beauty of the world’s harbours and seaside communities, than the cruise industry.
“Making a true commitment to preserve and protect the environment is not only fundamental to the success of the cruise industry, it’s also the right thing to do. As a result, there are few other industries who have invested so much time, resources and energy into protecting our oceans and destinations.
“Cruise ships represent less than 1 per cent of the global shipping fleet, however, we are leading the way when it comes to sustainability investment and innovation.
“The cruise industry takes sustainable tourism seriously by constantly evaluating ways to protect our planet’s oceans and communities and leads the way in recycling, new technology and alternative fuels.
“Work is underway, both from individual cruise lines, and from CLIA as the global cruise industry association, to develop responsible environmental practices and innovative technologies that lead the world’s shipping sector in reducing emissions and waste.
“The cruise industry is one of the most heavily regulated maritime industries with robust, clearly enforced standards, and the implementation of thousands of specific requirements set by the International Maritime Organization (IMO) and other authorities.
“CLIA’s Compendium of Policies is a condition of membership and verified annually by cruise line CEOs.
“CLIA policies are incorporated into each ship’s Safety Management System and are subject to third-party and internal auditing. Cruise Lines are required to comply with and/or exceed all applicable IMO regulations, including SOLAS and MARPOL.”