The Safest, Most Secure Travel is…?
Going on a cruise! And here are some reasons why:
#1. Cruise ships have controlled access: It’s easy for a ship to move about and alter ports of call if any are deemed unsafe for any reason, including severe weather or serious criminal activity. It’s also easy to control and limit access to the ships. When a ship is in port, passengers and crew can only enter through one or two controlled access points, where ship’s security personnel check IDs, manifests and photos. All passengers have a photo taken, which becomes part of their I.D. provided by the ship’s crew before they board. Because access to the terminals and docking areas is limited as well, it’s relatively tough to get onboard if you don’t belong there.
#2. Anti-Terrorism Measures: Cruise lines have security checks of all passengers, carry-on parcels and checked baggage. Unlike the airlines, which only x-ray 10 to 20 percent of all checked baggage, cruise lines thoroughly x-ray every bag that goes on to the ship. All passengers and crew are required to pass through metal detectors before boarding. The crew and port officials also examine every shipment of supplies brought onboard. When ships are in port, watches are posted on deck, and at night, the decks are lit and ropes are taken in. The ships are also keeping records of who is onboard and not aboard at any given time, and have automated systems that enable security personnel to see exactly who is on the ship at any given moment.
#3. Trained Security: Cruise lines hire former military and naval personnel to implement and oversee their security, or hire private security firms or former law enforcement officers. Ship staffers are trained to recognize and deal with things like a crew member being in an unauthorized area, an unfamiliar face in a crew area, a passenger in an off-limits area, or a bag being found somewhere it isn’t supposed to be.
#4. Big Brother is Watching: Did you realize there are surveillance cameras all around you onboard ship? They visually monitor virtually every area of the ship. There are cameras in the embarkation areas, corridors, public rooms, entry points to the “out of bounds” areas for passengers such as crew areas, machinery spaces, and even common deck areas such as the promenade and pool areas.
#5. Port Security: Ships maintain a secure fenced area for 100 yards around a ship in port.
BOTTOM LINE ON WHAT YOU SHOULD EXPECT:
A. Since September 11th, much stricter security measures have been in place to protect ships and their passengers.
B. Every U.S. port now maintains and enforces a minimum 300-foot “no float zone,” a security perimeter that prohibits private craft from coming near cruise ships. In addition, cruise ships are getting an armed U.S. Coast Guard escort in and out of port.
C. There is also stricter access control to ports and terminals. Passengers are now required to show their tickets to enter both the port area and the terminal.
D. Look for multiple security checkpoints. You can expect to pass through three or four security checkpoints before being granted access to your cruise ship.
E. Cruise lines are working with local, state, federal and international authorities such as the port authorities where ships call, the U.S. Coast Guard, the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization Service, the U.S. Customs Service, the Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Interpol. This will enhance the safety and security of everyone onboard cruise ships.
F. Embarkation and debarkation may take longer to accommodate additional security procedures, so plan your flights accordingly.
G. Expect strict enforcement of required ID and nationality/travel papers. Boarding will be denied if you don’t have the proper documents.
H. Don’t expect to catch that early morning flight home. Passengers and lines have been reporting delays in disembarking passengers. In most cases, don’t expect to be ashore before 9-10 a.m.
I. Have patience. You may encounter some long lines as you wait to embark or disembark. Everyone is in the same boat, so keep your sense of humor and remember, it’s for your own safety!