Simon Calder: There is no real connection between the Thomson Majesty and the Costa Concordia disaster

Five lives have been tragically lost during a routine drill in the port of Santa Cruz, but this sad event is an industrial accident, not a calamity threatening all on board.

Simon Calder
Sunday 10 February 2013 18:00
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Some may be quick to connect the deaths of five crew members aboard the Thomson Majesty on the island of La Palma with the Costa Concordia disaster just over a year ago. In fact, the only apparent link is that the crew were practising the emergency deployment of lifeboats in order to ensure a safe evacuation were the order given to abandon ship.

The chaotic scenes after Concordia struck rocks off the island of Giglio showed how important safety drills are, both for passengers and crew. Thirty-two people died that dreadful January night, and two are still unaccounted for. Five seamen's lives have been tragically lost during a routine drill in the port of Santa Cruz, but this sad event is an industrial accident rather than a calamity threatening all on board.

Naturally, it has implications for passenger safety - what if, goes the obvious question, the same fatal failure had occurred during a real evacuation? While that investigation is carried out, the main problem for Thomson Cruises is logistical.

An estimated 1,500 passengers will remain on the vessel, in port, until the preparedness of the ship for an evacuation is assured. They, and the crew, will be understandably distressed about the tragedy.

Should the stay become protracted, they will need to be flown out of La Palma - an island with a small airport and normally only one flight a week from the UK.

Thomson Majesty joined the fleet of Britain's biggest holiday company only last May. As is the case with some other cruise ships, Thomson leases the Majesty - and its officers - from a Cypriot company, Louis Cruise Line. The overwhelming number of passengers are British.

The vessel sailed on Friday from another port named Santa Cruz, the capital of the island of Tenerife. After La Palma she is due to call at Madeira, Morocco and Lanzarote before returning to Tenerife. Thomson is still selling the departure on the circuit due on 22 February.

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