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Cruise Diva's FOCUS is on 
Cruise Travel Safety & Security

Embarkation--Your Cruise Port & Ports of Call


If you ever considered just showing up at the pier with your luggage in hopes of booking a last minute discounted cruise, forget that idea.


It seems almost naive to worry about whether you can sneak a forbidden bottle of liquor in your cruising carry-on these days. No one seems to care about contraband alcoholic beverages since 9/11. Instead, cruise lines are operating at an ultra high level security mode. Not since October 1985, when four armed terrorists seajacked the Italian cruise liner Achille Lauro, have cruise passengers been so concerned about safety.

Expect heightened security measures in your embarkation port and ports of call. At check-in you are liable to notice an increased police and security presence and even Coast Guard escorts as your ship leaves port.

Cruise lines worldwide have instituted stricter security procedures, some of which you won't even be aware. Regent Seven Seas Cruises announced the following actions for their fleet after 9/11 and other cruise lines followed suit:

  • No Guest Visitors will be permitted aboard any of our vessels. Only visitors authorized in advance through our Operations Department will be permitted on board.

  • Identification of every person embarking a Regent Seven Seas ship will be carefully checked. Proper photo identification is required in all instances to board the ship.

  • All hand-carried items of both crew and passengers are hand searched in every port.

  • All luggage is being scanned.

  • All packages and provisions brought onboard are scanned with detection equipment.

  • Security personnel are stationed at all points of entry to the ship.

  • In addition, every ship has professionally trained on-board security officers as well as many other measures in place to ensure the safety  of all of our guests.

Most cruise line security personnel are former navy or marine officers with extensive maritime experience. Some cruise lines recruit on board security personnel from the ranks of former British Gurkha Regiments. From Nepal, the Gurkhas are renowned as soldiers of the highest caliber.

With tightened security, passengers can expect to experience some delays, both during the initial boarding process and when coming and going in ports of call. Vehicles may be searched before entry into the port area and luggage will be scrutinized, either by hand or x-ray. Be prepared to carry a photo ID along with your boarding pass at all times.

Passenger Sandy McCluskey sailed from Los Angeles shortly after 9/11 and found "Security was amazing." She said, "I was all but strip searched each and every day, both boarding and getting off the ship." In addition, Sandy reported, "There were check points in each port to go on the ship and also to leave the ship. We walked though the x-ray machine and our bags were searched. No one complained and the process was amazingly fast. Port Police and Coast Guard were constantly around the ship in US ports and their equivalent was present in Mexico. I felt very safe cruising."

And passengers aren't allowed to embark without proper identification. Sandy stated, "In the past people have been able to slip on without their birth certificates or passports, sometimes only bringing a copy of their passport or birth certificate. Now, don't even think about doing that! Invest in a passportwe may be using them more and more in the future anyway. Also you will need a picture ID to get on and off the ship daily, along with your boarding pass." We're glad these procedures, and Sandy's advice, are still as important as ever.

Gone are the days of simple paper boarding passes. Modern boarding identification cards and scanning equipment record passenger comings and goings on the majority of ships. With a swipe through a credit card-like machine, security is aware of who is on board the vessel at all times. On most vessels, boarding passengers' images are recorded digitally. When leaving or entering the ships, boarding passes are inserted into machines which then display passengers' likenesses on screens manned by security officers.

Futuristic biometric devices, which involve fingerprints, eye characteristics, or facial landmarks, may some day be utilized by cruise lines as well as airports. A common database created by law enforcement agencies could provide instant identification.

And, if you ever considered just showing up at the pier with your luggage in hopes of booking a last minute cut-rate cruise, forget about it. Cruise lines will no longer accept bookings at the dock.


Back to Cruise Diva's FOCUS on Safety & Security

Related Articles

  • Can you "FALL" off a cruise ship?—Is it that EASY to simply "fall" over a balcony railing? We don't think so.
  • Port Security—Are you concerned about measures taken to keep your cruise ship safe in US ports? Amber Blecker, ACC, explains why you shouldn't worry.
  • Flying the Friendlier Skies -- New security measures are in place to ease your mind about flight safety.
  • Safety Onboard -- The muster drill and beyond; crews take safety and security seriously.
  • Stay Safe in Ports of Call -- Getting away from it all shouldn't mean getting into trouble.
  • Identifying Yourself -- If you haven't done it already, isn't it about time to get a passport?
  • Cruise Care -- The ship's Sick Bay. You hope you won't need it but it's comforting to know you can depend on it... if only for a bandage. 
  • Going "Bare" -- This has nothing to do with sunbathing in the buff.  Here's the scoop on protecting your cruise investment and yourself.
  • Air & Sea: Solutions for the Landlocked -- The facts about cruise line Air & Sea Programs and missing the boat.
  • Insurance -- Cover your bases and insure yourself & your cruise investment.
  • Ship Happens -- Bad weather, mechanical problems, and political unrest can set your itinerary and plans adrift.
  • Cruising into Hurricane Season -- "Official" hurricane season consumes a full six months of the year. It doesn't have to spoil your cruise.
  • Embarkation Ports -- And pre- & post-cruise info.

Cruise News -- The latest information regarding cruise lines and ports.


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