Recently, I received an email from change.org. I’m subscribed by choice and I typically read the petition and sign it if I believe in it. Sometimes I even share it on social media if I think it’s a worthy cause. However, sometime last week I got one that really resonated with me more than others. The email was titled “My son drowned on a cruise” and the petition was titled “Make it Mandatory for Cruise Lines to Employ Lifeguards.”
“October 13, 2013 remains one of the darkest days of my life. My family of five was enjoying the last day of our Carnival cruise in the Caribbean when tragedy struck in a matter of minutes: my six-year-old son Qwentyn drowned in a pool.
Although it breaks my heart, I have come to terms with the fact that I got distracted and let this happen. Accidents happen, and that’s why I couldn’t believe that most cruise lines do not employ lifeguards on ships. With all the activities occurring on a ship deck at any given time, I believe that properly trained lifeguards — acting as an extra set of eyes and ears — will help to save more kids’ lives.
It has taken me some time to pull myself together to start this petition, but I felt that I had to do it so that other families don’t have to go through what my family and I have during the last year. I’m here to ask Carnival Corporation and the cruise line industry to employ lifeguards to provide greater passenger safety onboard ships.
Research shows that nearly two million passengers under 18 board cruises each year. Many cruise travelers can probably relate to the distracting nature of the deck — music, people, water activity, entertainment and noise are all constant. Despite this, only Disney puts lifeguards on its ships, a decision made shortly after our son’s passing. The cruise industry brought $42 billion in economic activity to the U.S. in 2012, so why can’t it require that companies hire lifeguards to ensure greater safety?
Make no mistake, parental supervision should always be a priority, but it’s clear to me and many others that the presence of lifeguards can only help to protect lives. Please sign our petition so we can make this important change sooner than later. Thanks for your support!”
My reaction was not just sympathetic to the family that lost a child. Despite being a person that feels responsible for nearly everything that happens to me, there is something wrong with this picture. As much as we can blame the father, and he obviously blames himself, there has to be some accountability. As an experienced pool manager, I have used the old put a sign up to remove our liability trick, but my staff was still trained to respond to emergencies and make sure no one loses their life on our deck or in our water.
The cruise lines are not going to be there to respond to the emergencies if they have pools and no lifeguards. That is something only private facilities can get away with, and believe me, I know. I also was the Director of an Aquatics Facility that was privately owned and we did not require a lifeguard on duty. Still, we had certified lifeguards teaching swim lessons and managing the deck, because safety matters. This way, we saved money because lifeguards are a black hole for costs, but still never lost anyone.
I have been on a cruise ship and swam in their pools, and I would be willing to pay an extra dollar in order to pay for a single lifeguard because if every cruise ship had one lifeguard per pool area, that child would not have died. Many individuals would still be alive. I hate it when people lose their lives when it is completely preventable. A major company being cheap and wanting to maximize profits is completely preventable.
So, I’ll go even farther with this petition and say that cruise lines can raise the price of cruises to compensate for the wages given to putting one lifeguard on duty per pool area. It’s such a sad story, and it never had to happen. While we continue to teach parents and children about water safety, let’s encourage the other side to have professionals keep us safe. Thank you for reading and please sign the petition.