Home Cruise Safely Shore Excursion Plane Crash Results In 9 Fatalities

The question of how safe shore excursions are has been raised again due to an Alaskan float plane crash that killed eight cruise ship passengers and the pilot. The guests were sailing on a seven day Seattle to Alaska cruise on the Holland America Line’s Westerdam. The shore excursion was operated by Promech Air and crashed into the side of a mountain near Ketchikan, Alaska. So far the cause of the crash has not been determined. The accident happened in the same area as another float plane crash in 2007. As a result of the investigation of that crash, the FAA installed ten webcams in the area so pilots could judge the weather. The June 25th crash has once again raised the issue of safety vs. the greed of cruise lines.

According to some reports, some guests who were scheduled to take the excursion that day canceled because of weather. The unnamed guests said they could not get a refund but were afraid to fly. They further claimed that others wanted to cancel but did not want to lose what they paid. Those reports were picked up by some websites and called for revision of cancellation policies. Other guests who flew that day said the weather that morning , when the other guests canceled, was good. The cruise line responded to questions about canceling due to weather stating that they follow the air company’s recommendation. Some activists have called for banning float planes, which has gotten a great deal of feedback from locals. Float planes are the major means of transportation in that part of Alaska, people use them as frequently as a New Yorker will use a taxi. It should be noted that at the time of the crash no other flight had been canceled because of weather.

It will be months (if not longer) before we find out the cause of the crash and if weather played a role. We do not know if the guests aboard the doomed aircraft had wanted to cancel or not, nor do we know if they had made their own risk assessment before booking the flight. In this case, it does not appear that those claiming the cruise line put guest lives in danger have much to back their claims. Because locals were still flying it seems that safety vs greed was not an issue, as they know which weather conditions are safe or unsafe to fly in.

It does bring to attention the importance of being aware of cancellation polices and making your own assessment where risk lies. If you feel unsafe about a shore excursion when it is time to take it, then cancel- even if you lose the money.

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