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  #1  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:20 AM
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Default An open letter - Why we've decided to stop cruising

My wife and I have been avid cruisers since 2005, but while planning our next cruise we started to realize that we were having second thoughts. Ultimately, we've decided to take a land-based vacation instead. This is a copy of a letter I've sent to both Micky Arison, CEO of Carnival Corporation, and Alan Buckelew CEO of Princess. I thought you might want to see it, and add your comments, pro or con, to this thread.

-----------------------------------------------------

Dear Mr. Arison and Mr. Buckelew,

After 6 cruises, 3 of them on Princess, we've made the decision to stop cruising altogether, and we think you need to know why.

The fiasco surrounding the Costa Concordia disaster has shaken us to the core. We've always felt comfortable sailing, because we've always felt safe. Up until now, we were always confident that in a real emergency, the well trained staff and crew would know what to do, and would execute their duties to ensure passenger safety.

Watching the National Geographic expose on the events surrounding the Concordia, which included cell phone footage and passenger accounts of the harrowing circumstances on board, I could not help but to envision myself in similar circumstances, and it is simply chilling. We were shocked beyond belief that the situation on board had been allowed to escalate to such chaos. Accounts of passengers running from lifeboat to lifeboat, trying to find room, and ultimately having to jump and swim to shore defied belief.

I am well aware that the true facts are still being investigated, but, at this time, the public perception is that there was a complete breakdown of the command structure and safety procedures. Footage showing people being directed back to their cabins while the ship was clearly taking on water was very disturbing.

I am not writing to ask for anything from you. I simply want you to be aware of the impressions of one pair of formerly enthusiastic cruisers. I would imagine that we are representative of many others, who might not take the time to write.

Our perceptions are that:

  • The crew performed admirably under the circumstances.
  • The passengers were not properly informed of emergency procedures.
  • The Captain and senior staff unnecessarily delayed alerting passengers and evacuating the ship, causing unnecessary risk.
  • The delay in evacuation caused issues with the launching of the lifeboats.
  • There was a breakdown of communications on all fronts.

Again, these are perceptions, not facts, but as is often said, perception IS reality.

The current cruise industry response of re-evaluating the mechanics of the safety briefing and muster drill is only one small part in restoring confidence. Speaking only for myself, I need to see steps that will demonstrate that the Captain and senior staff are deserving of the trust that we put into them.

It is somewhat ironic that the Concordia incident, demonstrating such a poor response by a commanding officer in the face of an emergency, came at the same time as the anniversary of the successful water landing of US Airways Flight 1549 by Captain Sully Sullenberger. There could not be a greater contrast between two disastrous events.

We've come a long way since the sinking of the Titanic, and yet it seems that the fundamental issues of safety of life at sea still remain. I don't know how you will accomplish it, but you need to either somehow restore public faith in the commanding officers of your ships, or rely on the public to gradually forget the horrific events that occurred on January 13th.

Most Sincerely,
xxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx

Last edited by jtmalt; February 18th, 2012 at 11:21 AM.
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  #2  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:25 AM
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After 15 cruises I too believed the crew would keep me safe and know what to do.

My perception of those events-- that crew were waiting for instructions from a captain that went missing. Crew can not take it upon themselves to know what procedure is in place when an emergency happens.

With that being said-- we just sailed and let me tell you the difference in the safety briefing from previous cruises--- all I can say is wow and I hope that the safety briefing is being taken seriously for a long time (like forever)

it was so quiet.
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  #3  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:28 AM
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You are correct in stating sometime perceptions are more powerful in decision making than facts. We respect everyone's decision on how they proceed after the Costa incident.
We look at things differently.
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  #4  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:30 AM
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I agree with your sentiments and I too cannot fathom how all of this happened...it was just true human stupidity IMHO...

however, I never expect anything from anyone while traveling and while that should not be the case..unfortunately...what happened with this disaster is about what I would have expected.

I basically believe..that while the vast majority of humanity will always do the right thing...when it comes down to disasters at sea....I will always feel that it will be everyman for himself.


while I have a positive attitude toward 99.9% of stuff....from they way I have heard/read/seen how the crew is treated and the ignorance on a ship by those that should be informed..like Guest Services..and the ever so popular Security guerillas...for the time being I will stick with my opinion...

but I will continue to cruise....well knowing that I am responsible for my own well being.....in case of disaster

and for those that want to comment on my opinion...yes...I do know that there are great people out there that would indeed give their life up for me...so please don't go there..thanks

Last edited by maggie cruises; February 18th, 2012 at 11:31 AM.
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  #5  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:42 AM
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Hi There,

If you feel unsafe then you are right not to cruise, however what ever type of holiday you take there is risk,

a number of years ago while in London there was a bad underground station fire I was there 1 month before, then a train crashed I was on that train the week before, then a plane crash I was on that plane only hours before,

I did not give up traveling, just paid more attention to safety notices etc


yours Shogun
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Old February 18th, 2012, 11:49 AM
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I'm sure there are many who have the same sentiments as you. We are not among those and believe this incident was pure human error and that cruise ship travel is safe.

But, it's not the only way to travel and everyone needs to do what is most interesting for themselves.

I also believe it was a wake up call for cruise lines, safety and security should be at the forefront of all cruise ship personnel with the top dog being the Captain. People will be paying more attention now and the industry will be making changes.

Just like any other incident, this will never be forgotten of course, but it will stop being a front page issue very soon.
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  #7  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:51 AM
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Have you also given up driving a car? How about flying in a plane? Riding a bus? Many more people get killed by these activities.
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  #8  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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cantwaitfornextcruise cantwaitfornextcruise is online now
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Whilst I cannot argue with anything you have said, we have friends who were on the Star Princess when she was on fire, their cabin was only 6 or 7 away from the seat of the fire. Their first-hand experience of Princess during an emergency is praise praise praise, they will not hear a word said against them and they should know, being woken is bad enough but smelling smoke as well and they are still cruising, but we all have to do what is right for us
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  #9  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:56 AM
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I think your free to state your own opinion, which is perfectly fine. Although in this country I'm not sure how long that will last either.

However from watching a T.V show give thier accounts when nobody was on board needs to be taken with a grain of salt ( which you kind of mentioned). Lets not forget they interviewed passengers from that ship, who in MY opinion because of the RARE occurance are probably looking to some way "cash in" by giving details. Remember if they were paid for the show you can almost guarantee that some truths were fudged, which will bring me to the captain.

This guy I CAN guarantee will NEVER sail again, yet alone be top dog of a major cruise line. Yes it was tragic, and we can almost say it wasn't a accident because it was HE and he alone who decided to go off course. I am almost possitive that he was properly trained to follow course,and not "swing by" his old stomping grounds to blow his horn,and let them know he is in the area. He must have thought he was riding in a car

You are by all means entiteled to a land vacation, its what you work hard or have saved for. I just hope that if your on a land vacation everything soes smoothly. I hope if you stay at a fancy hotel in Miami, or Caribbean that no hurricane hits, or a earthquake in LA or S.F. Or what if you decide to take a nice vacation to Greece or Italy and riots break out. will you write to those CEO's and say thier staff wasn't prepared? IT WAS a AWFUL ACCIDENT and the man who did it will pay his due.

Good Luck on your next vacation, YOU and your family have the right to be happy and safe! And this is no way not thinkig about your concern. Just another side to a conversation.
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Last edited by CaribbeanLVR; February 18th, 2012 at 12:00 PM.
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  #10  
Old February 18th, 2012, 11:57 AM
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i can understand your thoughts and perceptions .
the fiasco on the concordia will make a lot of folk sit up and think.
in 2006 at 3.00am the star princess alarms went off ,all pax asleep in their cabins .not nice being woken by the shout fire and the 7 blasts going off.
not one passenger was panic stricken, the staff were brilliant ,professional ,well rehearsed and attentive to everyone.
thats the difference between princess and costa ,the captain was a brilliant leader .
was he not so the star would have dropped its lifeboats and we would have been set on into the sea .
quick thinking and good seamanship saved a well loved ship and us its passengers.
sailed the seven seas since then 16 more cruises since then and always felt safe under the sea witch brand
2 more booked and 3 more future cruise looking to be booked for 2013 .
all princess can do is get better.
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  #11  
Old February 18th, 2012, 12:01 PM
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Hello,
I believe you have well-stated concerns that many of us avid cruisers can agree with. I was shocked at the complete breakdown of communication that occured after this incident. The recording of the captain lying to the Coast Guard and the passengers is what I find most unforgivable. Accidents happen, but the actions following the accident were unbelievable.

That said, I will continue to cruise. I believe the actions of one captain and his officers are not reflective of the industry as a whole. I hope that this incident will cause the cruise industry to make positive changes from the top down that will prevent this type of incident from ever happening again.

We need to trust the captain and crew to ensure a safe evacuation in the event of an emergency, otherwise all hell will break loose. If 4200 people decide to take control of a ship, a much worse outcome is likely.

I believe that once the crew (not the captain or first officers) knew the gravity and urgency of the situation, they became the true heroes.
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  #12  
Old February 18th, 2012, 12:05 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cantwaitfornextcruise View Post
Whilst I cannot argue with anything you have said, we have friends who were on the Star Princess when she was on fire, their cabin was only 6 or 7 away from the seat of the fire. Their first-hand experience of Princess during an emergency is praise praise praise, they will not hear a word said against them and they should know, being woken is bad enough but smelling smoke as well and they are still cruising, but we all have to do what is right for us
were with them ,princess isn,t perfect ,but when it comes to the stand up and be counted emergencies their no 1 to us .
we will defend them to the hilt .
the princess slogan will always be our favourite .
"princess where i belong"

Last edited by Beopthtuh; February 18th, 2012 at 12:06 PM.
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  #13  
Old February 18th, 2012, 12:06 PM
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Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I don't personally feel that these comments and opinions should be directed to the Princess CEO. Though I respect your decision to share these opinions with the cruise lines. They likely will appreciate the insight into what some previous passengers are feeling.

Here is my personal view:

My mom is a travel agent, though she has recently switched to corporate travel, throughout most of her career her specialty was cruising. After one cruise on Costa and numerous reports from others she would not have dared to send anyone on a Costa ship. Common assessments that she had gathered were that the staff were under trained and unprofessional, the food was terrible, the ship unclean, many of the ships very run down (though I would assume this was not the case on the Concordia as it was fairly new), etc. The only positive feedback that she ever gathered was that people enjoyed the itineraries/ports of call and that they were never more relieved for a vacation to end. She did not hear these same opinions or observe similar situations aboard Carnival Corporation's Princess, Holland America or Carnival lines. My mother rarely booked her clientele on the Carnival line because most of her clients didn't care to go back after sailing on Princess, Holland America, Celebrity, Norwegian or Royal Caribbean but this was more due to the fact that they felt Carnival was just too much of a party atmosphere, it just wasn't the right choice for them. It was personal preference related, not a reflection of bad experiences aboard Carnival. Any cruise line is going to have Noro outbreaks, ships that need a bit of repair somewhere and an occasional bad meal or unfriendly staff member. This doesn't mean the cruise line is unsafe or unsatisfactory. The fact that the only positive comment a travel whom specialized in cruising ever heard about Costa was in regards to the itineraries, in my opinion, suggests a terrible cruise line.

I personally feel that we are perfectly safe on a cruise, yes even most of the Carnival Corporation brands. They are all trying to learn from the Costa disaster but I feel that most other cruise lines were already steps ahead of Costa. My husband and I booked a cruise on Princess right after the Costa Concordia tragedy, we never thought twice about the decision. Sure, some may consider that foolish but we are just that confident that cruising remains one of the safest modes of travel. We believe that we are far more likely to die in a car accident or on a plane and we're certainly not about to consider quitting driving or flying.

Last edited by minabruuke; February 18th, 2012 at 12:09 PM.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:06 PM
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thanks for sharing !
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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:24 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cp160 View Post
i can understand your thoughts and perceptions .
the fiasco on the concordia will make a lot of folk sit up and think.
in 2006 at 3.00am the star princess alarms went off ,all pax asleep in their cabins .not nice being woken by the shout fire and the 7 blasts going off.
not one passenger was panic stricken, the staff were brilliant ,professional ,well rehearsed and attentive to everyone.
thats the difference between princess and costa ,the captain was a brilliant leader .
was he not so the star would have dropped its lifeboats and we would have been set on into the sea .
quick thinking and good seamanship saved a well loved ship and us its passengers.
sailed the seven seas since then 16 more cruises since then and always felt safe under the sea witch brand
2 more booked and 3 more future cruise looking to be booked for 2013 .
all princess can do is get better.
You have just repeated what our friends have always said, they also were on the Star and praise Princess
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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:26 PM
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Thank you for taking the time to share your letter as well as your concerns. You ultimately must do what you feel is best for your vacation time. I wish you many happy and safe vacation memories.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:38 PM
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Hi all

While not on the scale of the Star fire, have been om a Princess ship when there was a small cabin fire, then the next day in the early hours of the morning to be woken by the call for fire crew, did make us sit up, we were not worried, and then to hear the stand down call a few minutes later, we just went back to sleep, an employee had had a smoke in a toilet and set the smoke alarm off.


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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:41 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cp160 View Post
i can understand your thoughts and perceptions .
the fiasco on the concordia will make a lot of folk sit up and think.
in 2006 at 3.00am the star princess alarms went off ,all pax asleep in their cabins .not nice being woken by the shout fire and the 7 blasts going off.
not one passenger was panic stricken, the staff were brilliant ,professional ,well rehearsed and attentive to everyone. thats the difference between princess and costa ,the captain was a brilliant leader .
was he not so the star would have dropped its lifeboats and we would have been set on into the sea .
quick thinking and good seamanship saved a well loved ship and us its passengers.
True. The fire on the Star Princess demonstrated a potentially horrific tragedy averted by smart command decisions.

Had the Captain of the Concordia dropped his lifeboats at the outset of the incident, the outcome may have been far different, and this might be a completely different conversation that demonstrated the safety of cruising rather than a nightmare that left 17 dead and 15 missing and presumed dead.

Quote:
Originally Posted by minabruuke View Post
Everyone is entitled to their own opinion but I don't personally feel that these comments and opinions should be directed to the Princess CEO. Though I respect your decision to share these opinions with the cruise lines. They likely will appreciate the insight into what some previous passengers are feeling.
Thank you. I included Princess because they had become my preferred line to cruise with....in fact I have unused future cruise credits with them (which I will probably now just let expire). The incident aboard the Concordia affected my view of the cruise industry as a whole, and Princess has lost me as a cruiser because if it, even though they were not the particular brand at fault. I included Carnival Corporation because they are the holding company for both the Princess and Costa brands.

In regards to the comments about the safety of cruising vs air travel, driving, etc.... logically, this is true, but this is an emotional decision, not a logical one. While I understand that some accounts may be overblown, the fact that people felt in enough fear for their lives to jump into 50 degree water and swim to shore is testimony enough for me.

Had I not seen that program, I might have gone ahead with my annual cruise vacations with only a minor level of concern. Somehow, when I saw the actual cell phone footage presented, and heard the accounts of entertainers and passengers who were there, it affected me in a visceral way that has deeply changed my attitude about cruising.
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Old February 18th, 2012, 12:43 PM
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It is said that there is no better time to sail than immediately following a tragedy of this nature. Every condition of safety is under the strictest review on all lines and the code of "not on my watch" is paramount in tightening and administering the rules.
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  #20  
Old February 18th, 2012, 12:50 PM
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OP, you composed an excellent letter detailing why you are going to stop cruising. I watched the NGC program showing the chaos & lack of leadership by the captain but as you said with the investigation ongoing all of the facts to determine the cause are not known.

However to me there are enough things known that leads me to believe there was a total breakdown in leadership onboard & the response reflected it.

In many situations training & preparation are sufficient but then the human factor affects the actual response. How each person from the top ranks to the lowest will respond in a true emergency is difficult to predict. Even the best training may not determine whether someone will run to or from a disaster. Sully reacted heroically but he says he responded to years of diligent training to prepare himself for that situation. However even those without training & a personality to run to dangerous situations to help others are all around us. For anyone who remembers the Air Florida crash in the Potomac, such a person was the guy who jumped into the freezing water to rescue victims.

Having a career where having to make instantaneous decisions without time to think, intense training prepared me for emergency situations. Even during a few years on an aircraft carrier they gave everyone firefighting training & regular simulations onboard because everyone was a first responder. On a cruise ship only the crew has such training so the overwhelming majority need the crews guidance.

My main point is that you never know how people will react even when adequately trained. If the investigation shows there needs to be more intense training then it needs to be done. Training is only an indicator of how anyone reacts but it doesn't always show whether they will react properly or not.

Those who boast that they've done enough muster drills & don't attend could be a factor also. Each of us are responsible to be prepared & with effective guidance to survive disasters. Tragically the leadership at the top appears to be severely lacking on the Concordia.

I can accept the risks & will continue to cruise while reevaluating my own preparation for a disaster. I can do that & still have a great cruise but realize that is not the situation for some who like the OP will decide to no longer cruise for now. There certainly is no 'right answer' for everyone & it's a personal decision to be made by each of us after evaluating the risks vs. the benefits.

Last edited by Astro Flyer; February 18th, 2012 at 12:56 PM.
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