I was attending this year’s annual Seatrade Cruise Global convention in Fort Lauderdale, Florida when it popped up in my news feed again. I couldn’t believe it.
The storm that Royal Caribbean International’s Anthem of the Seas got caught in during February of 2016 was still a topic of discussion.
Apparently, a new video had been recently posted on YouTube by a cruise musician, and a number of news outlets were ready to pounce on the new footage of waves crashing into one of the ship’s deck-three windows.
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To the uneducated, the reel appears scary, but those capturing it are far more casual about it than the inaccurately quoted headlines would have you believe out of context.
News.com.au and others list in bold, “We’re hoping not to die” when, in fact, the spectator seen in the video is laughingly heard saying, “We’re just staying in one place trying not to die,” referring to the ship’s static position. One of the other misquoters, 7 News, also erroneously measures the ship’s list (or heel or roll) as 45 degrees when again the video specifically mentions only 12 degrees.
As I discussed shortly after the initial mainstream media onslaught, the Anthem of the Seas and its passengers were not in real danger.
Cruise ships are designed to withstand much more extreme conditions and survive. In fact, windows on lower decks are much thicker in order to defend against waves, as that one clearly did. Royal Caribbean International’s own Voyager of the Seas is reportedly capable of rolling to 49.5 degrees and recovering. I myself have been on another cruise ship that heeled 12 degrees like the Anthem without any concern for my safety.
Truth is, I felt far more at ease on Silversea Expeditions’ Silver Discoverer during a rolling storm in Micronesia than I do on a plane during turbulence. Yet, regular media outlets rarely jump on a plane experiencing a moderate jostling.
There are a couple of reasons why.
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One, someone with a camera phone can’t point their lens out the window of a plane, capture the effects of strong invisible wind drafts on the fuselage and wings, then post it for millions to see online like they can a wall of water.
More significantly, I believe, far fewer people have sailed on a cruise ship than have flown on an airplane.
That is, most travelers understand turbulence with at least a general knowledge of what causes the plane to pitch, roll and yaw—and that it will soon come to a stop safely during a flight. Meanwhile, those on their first cruise, now transfixed by sensationalized YouTube footage, may only have the Titanic to reference and be terrified by.
Where the mainstream media could help alleviate unjustified paranoia is to tell the truth and remember the context: As remarkably safe as air travel is, cruise travel is statistically even safer.
So, stay calm and sail on.