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It would be remiss of me to not mention the fatal accident that occurred on Thomson Majesty yesterday. As we all know, five crew members died when a lifeboat they were in dropped into the sea during a lifeboat drill as a result of a cable breaking. This happened during a lifeboat drill while the ship was in harbour (Santa Cruz de La Palma), and as is the case with these lifeboat drills, passengers were not involved. Here’s a link to a good BBC News broadcast by Simon Calder, a travel journalist, which gives quite a bit of background detail. I couldn’t help thinking of the various times I’ve watched lifeboat and tender drills in various harbours, and been very interested – I would have been horrified if something like this had happened while I was watching. It’s sad that the operation of equipment which is intended to save lives should take them away. But I also gather that launching lifeboats is a task that is statistically dangerous, certainly when dealing with an older design such as Thomson Majesty  where the lifeboats are stowed very high on the ship and therefore must perforce be lowered a very long way to get into the sea.

Given that, as Simon Calder says, the ship was chartered from Louis Cruises Lines of Cyprus, and that she is I believe) flagged in Malta, I’m not sure what the relevant regulatory authority is. But the accident should certainly be investigated as rigorously as possible. This has been another blow to the cruise industry at a time and in an area when it is facing great challenges.

But that’s all irrelevant: the most important thing is that five people have been killed in an industrial accident. The industry must continue its efforts to make cruising as safe as possible, for crew members as well as for the paying passengers. My thoughts go out to the families, friends and colleagues of those killed.

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