Gordon Tokumatsu and Kevin Dahlgren
Thousands of Southern California cruise ship customers wonder if it's safe
Disaster or not, the era of the giant cruise ship appears to be here to stay.
"Whoever has a license - a seaworthiness license - that is good enough for me," said Nico Hazdavoc of Adriatic Travel in San Pedro.
Hazdavoc said he has heard little concern from his clients, despite the Italian cruise ship disaster.
Cruise ship travel accounts for about 15 percent of Hazdavoc's business. He says cruise customers don't usually worry about safety, because international laws are quite strict.
But he says, people do ask how they can find out if ships are safe, especially at a time like this.
The same has been true in the past, after home videos and other images surfaced of rogue waves, fires and other unwelcome cruise ship surprises.
Still, there are a few steps travelers can take to gain some peace of mind.
First, if a ship has been through an accident, even a small one, that information is probably available on the Internet.
"All this information is readily available," said Hazdavoc. "They’re not hidden."
Secondly, those who want the most safety can choose a cruise itinerary that doesn't have stops at several ports of call.
Passengers can also seek out cruise lines where their native language is the primary language spoken on board. That can help in the midst of chaos.
Reports emerging from the Costa Concordia disaster suggest that language barriers may have been a detriment to survival efforts.