A Nautilus International official and a rivercruise vessel master member are featured in a Dutch television documentary highlighting safety concerns in the sector.
The documentary by NPO TV – broadcast on 11 May – outlines how the European rivercruise industry is rapidly increasing. In 2016 in Amsterdam alone, 1,876 rivercruise vessels berthed in the port, bringing 450,000 extra tourists to the Dutch city, compared with 1,380 such vessels in 2012.
The documentary captures dramatic footage of some of the accidents that have occurred, and Nautilus senior national secretary Carl Kraijenoord and Nautilus Swiss member Captain Harald Ludwig outlined their concerns about these developments.
Capt Ludwig commented: 'There are not enough well-trained and experienced high-ranking officers and captains nowadays in the sector. Less skilled and experienced staff are rising too quickly to high ranking positions, and a lot of ships are understaffed, so fatigue plays a big role here too.'
There are not enough well-trained and experienced high-ranking officers and captains nowadays in the sector
Mr Kraijenoord added: 'Also we see that more and more eastern European and Asian staff are being hired, and you see – especially when disasters occur – there is a real language confusion onboard, so our concern is that security risks are growing rapidly.'
In September 2016, two former colleagues of Capt Ludwig, a boatmaster and a boatman, died after an accident on the Main-Donau Canal – when the wheelhouse on the vessel they were on was allegedly not lowered before passing under a bridge.
Capt Ludwig said: 'I fear that more accidents will happen in the near future, and there are risks to passengers as well. As a sector we have to do something, shipowners should invest more, and not only look for higher profit. This situation cannot last much longer.'
The owners' federation for the Dutch inland waterways (the Centraal Bureau Rijn- en Binnenvaart) denies the problems are as large as the Union describes and claimed that staff employed in the rivercruise industry speak excellent English.