One crew member was killed and four others were injured Tuesday in an accident during lifeboat drill aboard the world’s largest cruise ship.
Royal Caribbean confirmed that a Harmony of the Seas crew member had died of injuries sustained during a lifeboat drill conducted in Marseille, France. For other Harmony of the Seascrew members are receiving medical treatment, the cruise company said.
BBC reports that the five crew members were inside the lifeboat when it became detached from the fifth deck during a safety drill and fell 10 meters into the water below. Two of the injured suffered life-threatening injuries, BBC reported.
Harmony of the Seas is the world’s biggest cruise ship at more than 227,000 gross tons. The ship has capacity to carry 5,479 guests and is home to about 2,100 crew.
The cruise ship was delivered in May following 32 months of construction at the STX France shipyard in Saint Nazaire, France.
“We’re keeping our colleagues & their families in our thoughts & prayers,” Royal Caribbean said in a statement posted to Twitter.
The incident is the latest accident to occur during lifeboat safety drills on board cruise ships. In July, one crew member was killed and three others were injured aboard the Norwegian Breakaway were injured during a rescue boat drill in Bermuda. In 2013, five crew members died and three were injured during a drill aboard the cruise ship Thomson Majesty in the Canary Islands.
Accidents such as these have prompted the Cruise Lines International Association, the largest trade organization serving the international cruise industry, to adopt a policy requiring that “the loading of lifeboats for training purposes is to be performed only while the boat is waterborne and the boat should be lowered and raised with only the lifeboat crew onboard.”
The policy calls for at least one lifeboat on each ship to be filled with crew members equal in number to its certified number of occupants at least every six months for ships with more than 300 crew members.
Carnival Cruise Line will make a return to Europe in 2016 when it launches new ship Carnival Vista.
The news comes after the line announced in May 2013 that it would have no ships sailing in Europe during 2014 and 2015, citing increasing airfares as the reason behind the decision.
New itineraries for summer 2016 on Carnival Vista include Athens, Barcelona, Dubrovnik, Izmir, Corfu, Livorno, Marseille, Messina (Sicily), Naples, Rome, Trieste and Valetta.
The ship will have its first European sailing on May 1 and will then have 18 sailings in Europe before moving on to New York in October. The ship’s official homeport has yet to be revealed.
The ship will have the first IMAX cinema at sea, as well as new dining options, more alfresco dining and the biggest Waterworks of any Carnival ship. The ship will also have a new Havana pool at the back of the ship, with Havana cabana staterooms available to book.
Mark Tamis (pictured), senior vice president of guest operations, said: “I really feel and we do [at Carnival] that this is the greatest ship to date and certainly the best ship to come from Carnival Cruise Line.
“This is about building on past success. This is built of the success of Carnival Breeze and what is rolling out across the whole Carnival fleet.
“We set out to make this our most innovative ship to date. This is about creating connects and a connection to the sea. This ship, like no other ship, brings that all together.“
When the line announced it was pulling away from Europe in last year, the company said it didn’t believe Americans, who make up the vast majority of its passengers, would pay increased airfares to cross the Atlantic.
In May last year, agents were praised for switch-selling customers to book a Caribbean cruise with Carnival rather than a European one.
During a VIP agent trip on Carnival Breeze last year, Lynn Torrent, executive vice-president os sales and guest services, said the line’s bosses were watching the moves being made by other international brands. She said Carnival was sitting back and seeing what other lines were doing in the UK market before making a decision.