The head of Royal Caribbean Cruises has dismissed fears that the vast size of the latest ships compromises safety, saying the newer, bigger ships “are safer”.

Richard Fain, chief executive of Royal Caribbean Cruises, said: “The truth is the newer, bigger ships are as safe or safer than any comparable smaller ships.”

Fain was responding to concerns following the disaster aboard the Costa Concordia in January in which 32 passengers died. Seven bodies have yet to be recovered from the ship, owned by a subsidiary of Carnival Corporation.

The Concordia was carrying more than 4,000 passengers and crew, and the size and design of the ship were raised as concerns following the disaster, including by martime trade union Nautilus. However, the lastest ships are bigger. Royal Caribbean Cruises’ ships Oasis of the Seas and Allure of the Seas each carry 5,400 passengers and 2,400 crew.

Speaking to the Financial Times, Fain said the bigger ships were both safe and popular with passengers, and insisted safety was “central to to our success as a company and as an industry”.

Fain said: “There are steps we have taken to protect our passengers and our crew from human error. But we can always learn if there are things we can do better.”

He added: “The subject is not just a question of numbers and technology and procedures. It’s also a question of culture and consciousness. Safety should be a habit.”

The investigation into the cause of the Costa Concordia disaster, when the ship struck rocks off the Italian island of Giglio, has appeared to focus on alleged mistakes by the captain.