To cruise travelers sailing from a North American port, we often recommend arriving before the crowd, as being one of the first passengers on the ship brings some undeniable advantages. There will be a wait, but many of us who go early think it a small price to pay for the advantages gained. In the past, odds had us on the ship by Noon; capturing images of a near-empty ship, visiting our stateroom, having lunch and perhaps a nap while everyone else was standing in line. A new protocol announced by the U.S. Coast Guard could change that plan from time to time, and that’s a good thing.
“More serious accidents and incidents can only be headed off by continually seeking safety improvements,”- Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio,
Recently, the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) held its first-ever forum on cruise ship safety. The forum was seen by many as the next logical step after the grounding of Costa Concordia in 2012 and the media circus surrounding Carnival Triumph, left powerless in the Gulf of Mexico last year after an engine room fire.
From that forum came notice to cruise lines from the U.S Coast Guard: We will be doing surprise inspections. We bring that up in this context because a surprise inspection by the U.S. Coast Guard or other governmental agency slows down turning the ship over; getting last sailings passengers off and the next sailing’s passengers on.
“If during any of our examinations we have any concerns about a ship’s safety, we will not permit it to embark passengers until all of our concerns have been addressed,” said Coast Guard Rear Adm. Joseph Servidio in a Miami Herald article.
Long-time cruise travelers may remember such surprise inspections in the wake of 9/11 when the level of cruise ship security was raised considerably. Surprise inspections were commonly done by U.S. Customs and Immigration officials too, also slowing down the embarkation procedure.
Our advice? Come early anyway, bring a book, iPad, deck of cards, or whatever else one might need to occupy some time, perhaps some extra time due to pop inspections. And if you see uniformed Coast Guard personnel walking around the ship, thank them for keeping us safe.
Flickr photo rulenumberone2