When most people think of cruising, they picture elegant night parties, extrinsic dinners by Michelin-starred chefs, and sunbathing by the pool with breathtaking ocean views.
While all of this is true, accidents can happen like with the iconic Titanic, leading to tremendous loss of life. But, how often do cruise ships sink?
How Often Do Cruise Ships Sink?
Since the fall of the Titanic, cruise lines have gone a long way towards ensuring maximum safety of their passengers.
Today, it is extremely rare for a cruise ship to sink. So, what are the chances of a cruise ship sinking?
Statistics suggest that dozens of ships have sunk since 1979, but only 16 of those were cruise ships.
The sinking of the Costa Concordia in 2012 is one of the biggest incidences in recent history. The sinking resulted in 32 casualties out of the 4,200 guests and crew onboard.
For something like this to happen, there needs to be a combination of several different circumstances coming together simultaneously.
In the case of the Titanic, for example, the ship sunk after it hit an iceberg and sustained cracks and holes in its hull.
Costa Concordia, on the other hand, sunk due to human error when the captain refused to heed warnings of the risk of grounding if he did not slow down.
1. Are Cruise Ships Safer Than Planes
Both sailing and flying are statistically very safe means of travel. Global air travel averages about one accident per 1.6 million flights.
On the other hand, cruise ship accidents are a little difficult to count. Not all countries are required to declare their accident stats to a governing body.
Probably the main difference between a plane and ship accident is that during a plane accident, there isn’t much you can do about the situation.
If a cruise ship goes down, you may be able to survive if you follow the safety rules. In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard
regularly checks cruise ships sailing in U.S. waters for any safety issues or irregularities that might be concerning.
2. Cruise Ship Deaths And Disappearances
On April 12, a woman was tossed out of a P&O cruise liner (Pacific Dawn), resulting in a frantic search in the choppy conditions.
Since 2000, about 300 cruise ship passengers have fallen overboard. These stats are relatively low, considering that more than 20 million people take cruises every year.
Cruise lines are expected to maintain certain safety standards to reduce the risk of falling overboard.
For instance, public decks have high railings so that passengers do not get swept or blown off accidently.
However, most incidents are usually deliberate or the result of reckless behavior.
This is why cruise ships are normally equipped with security cameras (to record what is going on in public places) and
cruise ship bartenders are advised to stop serving anyone who looks like they’ve had too much to drink.
Excessive consumption of alcohol can also aggravate conditions like depression and bipolar disorder, so onboard physicians are brought along to keep an eye on guests who may be at risk.
3. Why You Should Not Be Worried About Your Cruise Ship Sinking
The biggest cruise ships can weigh as much as 2000 blue whales. One of the largest cruise ships can transport up to 7000 passengers and 2000 crew members (the population of a small town).
It’s no surprise why some people often wonder how these big boys can stay afloat even on turbulent waters.
What you need to understand is that a cruise ship can roll up to 60 degrees before it is at risk of tipping over.
What’s more, cruise ships are designed to withstand huge waves (15 meters/50 feet).
These types of waves are extremely rare, and a typical cruise ship can max out its lifespan without coming across one.
Cruise ships are also adequately prepped for all sorts of bad weather and can handle even severe storms when there is a hurricane.
Naval architects usually create a model ship before construction of the actual ship, putting it through various extreme weather simulations to check its reaction in different situations.
Approximately 10 percent of the overall height of the ship is designed to stay under the water.
The ability of a cruise ship to stay on water relies on buoyancy, which is related to the density of the vessel.
If the vessel is denser than water (such as a stone), then it would sink. Since cruise ships are less dense than water,
placing them on the surface of the water causes the water to push upward against it. This pressure is what keeps the ship from sinking.
The hull of a cruise ship is also wide and rounded, which helps it move seamlessly and with minimal drag.
Round edges also help keep the ship stable so that it does not sway and rock from side to side.
Another thing that keeps cruise ships from sinking is their center of gravity.
The heaviest equipment, tanks, and engines are all located at the very bottom of the vessel.
Among these objects are the ballast tanks, which have water that can be pumped from either side of the ship. This helps to maintain stability in rough waters or during an emergency.
Surprisingly, experts affirm that no wind can cause a cruise ship to turn over.
Rogue waves are the usual culprits, which can be twice as tall as regular waves and can appear from any direction.
Fortunately, as mentioned earlier, these types of waves are very rare.
FAQs about Cruise Ships Sinking
Do cruise ships stop if a passenger falls overboard?
Yes, the cruise ship will stop and go back to the location of the accident if someone falls overboard. The ship will look for the missing passenger for several hours and may even be joined by other ships in the search.
Can cruise ships sink in rough seas?
Cruise ships are designed to withstand rough seas. During high tides, the captain usually haves the passengers stay indoors for their own safety.
Do pirates attack cruise ships?
Pirates rarely attack cruise ships. Their main target is cargo ships because of the minimal crew and valuable load onboard. However, pirates have been known to attack all sorts of vessels with varying outcomes.
Are there police on cruise ships?
Major cruise lines have complex security departments run by former military, state, and federal law enforcement officials.
Cruise ships also have jails known as the brig. These are rarely used except in serious situations where the culprit is likely to be prosecuted (such as a murderer).