WITH THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ENJOYING CRUISES THESE DAYS I'M WONDERING WHAT SECURITY MEASURES CRUISE LINES PUT IN PLACE FOR EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION? IS IT THE SAME AS AIRLINES? ARE THERE GUARDS ON BOARD? HOW DO THEY PROVIDE SECURITY AGAINST PIRATES OR TERRORISTS?
D. HUNTER, NORTH SYDNEY
This is an interesting question and since I'm writing this from Ponant's Le Soleal cruising off the north coast of New Guinea I put it to the ship's officer in charge of security.
There are specific and rigorous measures in place to ensure the security of the vessel but for obvious reasons these cannot be divulged.
Were I to do that I would become shark food on my next voyage, but what I can tell you is that every cruise ship has a security officer who has undergone a course of instruction, in this case prescribed by the French government as well as by Ponant, the cruise line.
As part of their safety drills, and on Le Soleal these seem to happen every second day, the crew practise countermeasures they would take in the event of a terrorist attack. The wheelhouse is a secure area with closed-circuit cameras to monitor access, in addition to the closed-circuit cameras throughout public areas of the vessel.
Passengers' luggage is screened before it comes on board and passengers can expect to pass through a metal detector, although when we boarded Le Soleal in Manado this was not operating.
The French government has a three-level alert system that applies to ships sailing under its flag. At the moment we're on level 1, the lowest. Some cruise vessels carry armed security guards although passengers would not know who they are.
According to Le Soleal's security officer, in future it will become more common for all cruise ships to do the same. While it has been many years since terrorists directed their attention to cruise ships, operators are well aware of the risks and they're not complacent.