If you’re considering a meeting or incentive at sea you might be wondering:

Are cruise ships safe?

Absolutely! According to recent maritime research, cruising is still one of the safest forms of travel in the world. Even as cruise capacity has increased by 18.6% since 2009, the overall number of operational incidents has declined by 13%. In recent years, innovative safety-related technology, processes, and training have become even more sophisticated, making cruise ships safer than ever.


Holland America Zuiderdam deck, cruising in Alaska

Safety regulations are rigorous – and ships often go substantially above and beyond what’s required. All cruise ships must be designed and operated in compliance with strict requirements of international law and follow an extraordinary number of established rules and regulations to protect everyone on board. The U.S. Coast Guard conducts dozens of announced and unannounced inspections annually for every cruise ship sailing from our ports. These inspections focus on crew training, fire safety, proper functioning of all safety systems and lifesaving equipment.

Here are a few good-to-know facts:

  • As ships have grown larger, cruises have become safer than at any time in history.
  • According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), a typical cruise ship has more than 60 safety, environmental and health inspections each year.
  • Ships provide firefighting teams, life jackets, and enough survival craft to accommodate at least 125% of passengers and crew.
  • Cruise ships are regularly sanitized, from door handles to poker chips
  • Cruise line waste management and recycling programs are more stringent than those in most cities and ports.

The average cruise ship with 2700 passengers and 800 crew has:

  • 5 firefighting teams
  • 4,000 smoke detectors
  • 500 fire extinguishers
  • 16 miles of sprinkler piping
  • 5,000 sprinkler heads
  • 6 miles of fire hose.

What happens if someone get sick during the cruise?

Doctors on board  ships are trained and licensed with at least three years of clinical experience, including minor surgery and emergency care. Major cruise lines contain infirmaries with staff available 24 hours a day, and modern cruise ships also have sophisticated medical facilities ranging from intensive care units to x-ray suites and laboratories for blood testing.

How Secure are Cruise Ships?

Virtually no other segment of the travel and hospitality industry does more to make sure their guests are safe and secure.  Major cruise lines have sophisticated security departments run by former federal, state or military law enforcement officials and staffed by professional security personnel – 0n call 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Cruise ships are tightly controlled environments.  U.S.-based cruise lines share passenger manifests with U.S. authorities who check against official databases.  Proof of identity is required to access a cruise ship terminal; only crew, ticketed passengers, and those on a pre-approved list may enter.  All passengers, crew, and baggage must pass through screening checkpoints before boarding.

Cruise passengers are protected by a comprehensive system of security.

Cruise Ship Safety & Security Facts

How do Cruise Ships Protect Passengers On Board?

  • First, they strictly enforce access to the ship, passengers, and passengers’ belongings.
  • Second, 100% of all passengers, crew, carry-on baggage and luggage are screened prior to boarding.
  • Third, prior to embarking or disembarking, passengers and crew are required to pass through security checkpoints.
  • Fourth, cruise lines maintain an official manifest for each ship, which includes all passengers, officers, staff and crew.
  • Fifth, video surveillance is used to monitor onboard activity.
  • Finally, alleged crimes are reported to appropriate law enforcement authorities, including the FBI in most cases.

Learn More About Cruise Safety & Security:

We hope we’ve alleviated your concerns about staying safe and secure at sea during your cruise event. For more detailed information on cruise ship safety & security regulations, plus downloadable fact sheets, check out cruiseforward.org.

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