Facts About Cruise Ship Safety and Security
The highest priority of the cruise industry is the safety and
security of its passengers and crew. With more than 12 million
vacationers cruising each year, the cruise lines take every
appropriate measure to ensure that their guests have a safe and
While people are far safer on board a cruise ship than in virtually
any community in the United States, on rare occasions, incidents may
happen. On March 27, CLIA will testify before Congress on the
outstanding safety and security record of the cruise industry. With
heightened media coverage on cruise ship safety and security, we
wanted to provide you with information so that if you do hear
concerns regarding safety and security from your customers, you can
answer them confidently.
Cruising remains one of the safest vacations available, with an
outstanding record of safety and security. In fact, when compared
with the FBI's land-based crime statistics in the United States,
cruise passengers are much safer on board a cruise ship than ashore.
While instances of crime on board cruise ships are rare, it is
important that whenever traveling to be observant of one's
possessions and surroundings at all times. Cruise passengers are
reminded of this, as they are in any hotel, by safety information,
daily bulletins, port visit briefings and the provision of a room
safe or safety deposit box. In the event of an incident, the cruise
industry takes all allegations and incidents very seriously, reports
them to the proper authorities and fully cooperates in any
investigation. In many instances, cruise lines do not publicly
disclose detailed information to comply with directions from law
enforcement and out of respect for privacy.
Cruisers will want to note the following information:
Cruise ships are comparable to secure buildings with 24-hour
security. Every person on board a cruise ship, from the captain to
the cleaning staff and all guests, are placed on official manifests.
When sailing to or from U.S. ports, these manifests are provided to
U.S. federal law enforcement officials prior to the ship's departure.
- Guests should be very comfortable with the security
measures they see during their cruise vacation. These include the
screening of 100 percent of all luggage, carry-on's and provisions
coming onto our ships. Screening is done with X-ray machines, metal
detectors and human and detector dog searches.
- Passengers and crew may embark or disembark only
after passing through security. Once a ship is underway, access is
strictly limited to documented employees and fare-paying passengers.
- Each passenger is issued an identification card
which contains their digital photo and personal identification
information on a magnetic strip that he or she must present when
entering or leaving the ship. This technology allows the ship to know
which guests and crew members are on board and which are not.
- Each cruise ship has a dedicated security officer
and staff whose sole function is the security of its passengers and
crew. Typically, security staff personnel have former law enforcement
or military background and are trained according to international
- Foreign crew members on CLIA ships are required to
obtain a visa issued by the U.S. State Department for entry into the
United States. This visa requires the completion of a background
check. In addition, cruise ship employees are pre-screened by
- Cruise lines operate within a legal framework under
which international, federal and state authorities investigate crimes
on board cruise ships. Unlike most instances of shore side crime, the
FBI has the authority to investigate and prosecute alleged crimes in
international waters involving Americans.
- The U.S. Coast Guard has jurisdiction for
inspection and enforcement of international safety and security
standards for all ships calling at U.S. ports. In a 1995 study, the
U.S. Coast Guard determined that cruising was one of the safest modes
of transportation available.
Cruising is among the most popular vacation options in large part
because of its excellent safety record and the high level of quality
service cruise ships provide. The industry will continue to do its
part to maintain a safe, secure and healthy shipboard environment.