Operational incidents onboard cruise ships declined by 13% between 2009 and 2013, despite an 18% growth in global cruise capacity, according to a new study.
Commissioned by the Cruise Lines International Association, the study indicated that over the five-year period, there were 102 ‘significant operational incidents’ onboard cruise ships, which are defined as those causing more than 24 hours’ delay or passenger or crew injuries or fatalities. This included fires, technical incidents, groundings, storm or rogue-wave damages, collisions and incidents such as persons overboard.
In total, there were 21 incidents in 2009, 27 in 2010, 15 in 2011, 18 in 2012 and 21 in 2013. Together, these incidents caused the death of 31 passengers and 19 crew, as well as 215 injuries.
Over the same period, the industry recorded 101 ‘minor operational incidents’, defined as causing a ship delay of less than 24 hours or minor injuries to passengers or crew.
Meanwhile, data also showed that the number of passengers going overboard has decreased by nearly 50%, from 23 passengers and crew in 2009 to 12 in 2013. Overboard fatalities also declined, from 19 in 2009 to 13 in 2013. In total, 80 of the 96 person overboard incidents between 2009 and 2013 were fatal.
Comparisons to data for other modes of leisure and commuter transportation indicated that cruise travel had the lowest occurrence of operational-related fatalities in the travel industry. From 2009 to 2013, passenger and crew deaths on cruise ships totalled 50, compared to 2,787 crew and passenger deaths on airlines.
Conducted by maritime research firm GP Wild International, the study contains a comprehensive assessment of operational safety incidents in the cruise industry, finding that cruise ships are still one of the safest ways to travel.
GP Wild analysed 36 public sources including government data, trade publications and media reports to track incidents involving fire, technical breakdown, grounding, passenger missing overboard, storm damage, collisions, and sinking. Each incident was analysed in relation to standard industry metrics including volume of passengers, miles travelled, duration of travel, and other data points.