Killer waves are no reason to fear cruising

Anyone reading this post has probably already seen the banner headlines on and in other places Giant waves hit cruise ship – 2 passengers killed.

Or maybe your parents have sent you the story, either because they want to cancel their cruise vacation, or they are worried about yours.

But before anyone panics, a few words.

First, any vacation deaths are awful and this post does not mean to disregard the tragedy of two people apparently just being in the wrong place at the wrong time.

But in reality, even before we hear the whole story, this was an incredibly isolated incident.

The ship, the “Louis Majesty,” was operated by the Greek Louis cruise line, and is the former “Norwegian Majesty.” Before that it was the “Royal Majesty,” for the now defunct Majesty Cruise Lines.

This 40,000 ton ship was built in 1992. It was operated most recently by NCL until December 2009 when Louis Cruise Lines took over operations.

And 40,000 tons, quite frankly, is much smaller than the average ship sailing for companies that cater to Americans. In an era where “bigger is better,” not all cruise ships are in the over 200,000 tonnage range of the Oasis of the Seas, but most of them are at least twice the size of the Louis Majesty.

In fact, Holland America even prides themselves on their more “intimate” ships, and the Oosterdam, which I sailed on in December, is over 82,000 tons. To be sure, even if you don’t think “bigger is better,” bigger ships are more resistant to waves and weather.

In addition, this ship was sailing off the coast of Marseilles, France, where the weather is in the chilly range of 40 degrees.

As an agent, I occasionally get requests for European cruises in winter, but tell people, cruise lines that cater to Americans generally don’t do them. And there’s a reason. It’s cold and the seas can be rough.

Even the Queen Mary 2, a ship built for transatlantic travel, doesn’t start her crossings until April.

Many Europeans, however, like to be able to cruise locally, so some cruise lines over there do offer the product. In general, the worst passenger risks are seasickness and having to spend a good deal of the cruise indoors.

But NOTHING is 100 percent safe, and again, what happened to the “Louis Majesty” was awful. On the other hand, as far as cruise worries go, you’re more likely to be at risk on the drive from the airport to the ship, or dashing across the street in a port city.