Cruise Ship Safety Concerns

Cruise ship safety is a valid concern for meeting & event planners. While any single fatality is one too many, recent data confirms that cruising is still one of the safety forms of recreation and travel in the world. With a record 20 million passengers cruising each year, the industry goes to great lengths to maintain the safety and security of passengers and crew. As ships have grown larger, cruises have become safer than at any time in history.

Facts about Cruise Ship Safety

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. Every aspect of the cruise experience is heavily regulated and monitored under both U.S. and maritime law.

According to CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association), a typical cruise ship has more than 60 safety, environmental and health inspections each year. Safety regulations are rigorous – and ships often go substantially above and beyond what is required. In recent years, safety-related technology processes have become more sophisticated. Cruise ship safety continues to improve as technology advances, and the industry learns from developing and evaluating best practices.

As the industry has grown, regulators have updated and enhanced the safety requirements, including improvements in navigation equipment, shipboard safety management systems, life-saving equipment and training/certification standards.

The U.S. Coast Guard conducts periodic inspections 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.

Modern cruise ships are required to have state-of-the-art electronic navigational instruments, and most ships substantially exceed these regulatory requirements.

Ships are also required to have lifeboats, life rafts and life preservers for every person on board as well as additional capacity. The lifeboats are capable of being loaded, launched and maneuvered away from a ship within 30 minutes of a Captain’s order. Safety drills in multiple languages are held prior to departure from port.

The average cruise ship, carrying 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 on a cruise ship?

Doctors on board international ships are trained and licensed with at least three years of clinical experience, including minor surgery and emergency care. Modern cruise ships also have sophisticated medical facilities ranging from intensive care units to x-ray suites and laboratories for blood testing.

If the ship’s medical team feel they are not equipped to deal with a situation, outside resources will be called in to medevac patients to other medical facilities.

What about Norovirus?

Historic incidence rates of gastrointestinal illness aboard cruise ships are low; in fact, the vast majority of outbreaks occur in land-based settings.The cruise industry has taken steps to prevent sick passengers from bringing norovirus on board a ship and, in the rare instances of an outbreak, immediately employ numerous practices to mitigate its spread and treat ill passengers and crew.

Learn More About Cruise Ship Safety & Security

We hope we’ve alleviated your concerns about staying safe and healthy at sea. For more facts abour cruise ship safety and security, visit Safety at Sea and Security at Sea on the CLIA website.