Traveling on a cruise is an unforgettable experience. These floating cities have everything a traveler needs: housing, food, entertainment, transportation, shopping and the possibility to dawn every day in a different destination without having to do and undo your bags.
However, after 9-11 and the recent collapse of the Costa Concordia, those who were not concerned about security on cruise ships, began to see the risks they may be exposed to. Businessmen and government officials began to take action to fight terrorism, piracy, robbery and sexual assault, and to ensure food safety, from which any major means of transportation is exempt.
These are the most recent safety measures taken by security on cruise ships:
- Currently, the luggage of all passengers is checked before boarding. In the past only a small percentage of luggage was checked.
- In the case of boats, which sail from any port in the United States (Miami and Fort Lauderdale being the largest cruise ports), the names of the passengers are reviewed by the Coast Guard and checked against a terrorist watch list before boarding.
- Restricted areas are better protected today. For example, the bridge (where the captain of the ship is) is secured to prevent access of unauthorized people that could hijack the ship.
- The number of cameras and security officers on board has increased. Security officers who can observe and react to incidents that may occur monitor these cameras.
- Many cruise ships also have hired more security officers to conduct foot patrols in the boat in order to ensure the comfort of passengers. These security officers are also responsible for reviewing passengers’ boarding documentation at each port.
- Before September 11, ships had to report the next port of arrival 24 hours in advance. Now, the time to report has increased to 96 hours. This gives police officers more time to check the names of all people on board.
- There is a minimum distance of 300 feet (91 meters) private vessels should keep between their boats and cruisers. This distance was shorter in the past, but officials saw the need to increase it to better protect cruise ships.
Here we offer three basic tips to enjoy tranquility in your cruise:
1. Be sure to keep good hygiene practices. To prevent norovirus on cruise ships: wash your hands before handling food and drinks.
2. Protect your valuables in the room’s safe. You don’t need cash on board; your ID will serve as your account during the entire trip.
3. If you witness a felony/crime, report it to security officers on board immediately.
You can look for APRIL Assistance plans. They are specially designed cruises, which ensure the highest reimbursement of expenses from the shipping company, in the event you or your immediate family suffered illness or accident and you had to cancel the trip before it begins.
They also provide assistance during the whole trip so your only worry is how to enjoy it. The only service cruise ships do not include is the attention of a doctor in case of illness, in which cases Travel Assistance is very useful.
Assistance Plans also offer travel monitoring, i.e. if your flight is delayed and you are late to the first port of arrival, you will not lose your cruise. Upon immediate notice, the Assistance Plan will cover the cost of a plain ticket to the first scale.