Five crew members have died on a cruise ship operated by the British holiday firm Thomson after a lifeboat fell from the vessel during an emergency drill at La Palma in the Canary islands, according to Spanish officials.
According to the trade union for seafarers, more people are dying during the drills than are being saved by lifeboats. The problems include the heights involved, corroded equipment, unclear instructions and poor crew training.
What this tells me is, if we ever decided to go on one of these cruises, the chances of us surviving an incident where the lifeboats had to be deployed would be low. This incident occurred whilst the ship was berthed in calm seas; imagine what it would be like if the sea was rough, the ship was going down and all the passengers were trying to board the lifeboats at the same time. The mixture of chaos, panic, badly trained crew and corroded equipment would be lethal.
According to the seafarers union, deaths at sea are all too common; it's an inherently dangerous life, even in the 21st century. For British seafarers who tend to be working at the higher end of the industry, the workplace death and injury rate is over 50 times what it is on average for all land-based workers. Safety on cruise ships tends to be better than in some sectors, but is still patchy.
Pam and I had no plans to go on a cruise, this story just goes to reinforce that decision. The thought of ending our lives in a watery grave holds no appeal.