Shipboard Security

Shipboard Security

  • Reporting of Crimes and Missing Persons

    Unlike any comparable industry ashore, cruise lines are subject to strict legal requirements for the reporting of crimes on board cruise ships.  Flag States and port nations have enacted reporting requirements or established protocols concerning the reporting of criminal activity. While these reporting requirements may vary for ships operating on global itineraries across multiple jurisdictions, CLIA members are expected to comply with applicable reporting requirements of any legal authority.

    CLIA’s Members have also adopted a policy, applicable world-wide, that serious incidents such as homicide, suspicious deaths, missing persons, kidnapping, assault with serious bodily injury, sexual assault, firing or tampering with a vessel, or theft of money or property in excess of $10,000 are to be reported to local law enforcement, depending on the specific circumstances, including the location of the ship when an alleged incident occurred.  Additionally, by policy, CLIA’s members have agreed that all passengers and crew are to be provided the means and assistance to contact law enforcement authorities.  CLIA’s members have further agreed that these serious incidents are also to be reported to the ship’s flag State. 

    In the United States, the U.S. Congress passed the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) in 2010, with the support of the cruise industry, which codified many voluntary reporting measures that were already in place.  In addition to various operational and structural requirements to enhance shipboard security and safety, the CVSSA codified the industry’s 2007 agreement with the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) for reporting the serious incidents described above on cruises to or from the United States, and dramatically increased penalties for non-reporting.  A report of each incident must be submitted to authorities as soon as possible after its occurrence.  All passengers and crew must have access to information regarding the locations of the U.S. embassy and consulate in each country the vessel will visit during the course of the voyage.  In addition, cruise ships sailing to or from the U.S. are required by the CVSSA to record all complaints of crimes and thefts over $1,000 in a log that is subject to inspection by law enforcement officials.
    Other voluntary, industry-led cooperative measures have also been agreed regionally whereby cruise lines distribute security information to passengers and follow protocols and reporting practices.  One prominent example is the Guidelines which have been developed between cruise operators and the Pacific Islands Chiefs of Police (PICP), to provide a high-level good practice guide for reporting and responding to allegations of crimes committed on-board cruise ships at sea in this region.

  • Safeguarding Children in Youth Activity Centers

    One of the features found on many CLIA cruise line ships is a youth activity center where children are provided supervised activities and entertainment. CLIA cruise lines should be committed to adopting practices for their youth activities centers that promote a safe environment for children. This policy has been adopted by CLIA’s members to help ensure that commitment is fulfilled.

    Recruitment and vetting of staff

    CLIA cruise lines need to take reasonable steps to help ensure unsuitable persons are prevented from working with children. Pre-selection checks1 of all applicants to positions working with children or volunteers should therefore include the following elements:

    • An application that elicits information about the applicant's past employment, training, education and personal history, including self-disclosure about any criminal record.
    • Two references, including the most recent one, regarding previous work with children that are confirmed through direct contact.
    • Evidence of identity (passport or driving license with photo).
    • Evidence of appropriate training and qualification to work directly with children.
    • Consent from an applicant to seek information from the relevant Criminal Records Bureau in their home nation.
    • An interview of the applicant according to company protocols for employees and volunteers working with children.
    • An induction or orientation during which a check is made that the application has been completed in full (including sections on criminal records and self-disclosures); the job requirements and responsibilities are clarified; child protection policies and procedures are explained; and the staff member acknowledges receipt of such information and any other company code of conduct or ethics.

    Abuse recognition and reporting

    Only qualified and trained experts and law enforcement personnel are authorized to decide whether or not a claim of child abuse is credible. CLIA cruise lines should strive to safeguard any child from further harm by acting on any concerns or allegations of unlawful conduct and reporting these to the appropriate authorities. CLIA cruise lines should assure all staff/volunteers that they will fully support and protect anyone, who reports a concern that a child is or may be a victim of abuse. When such a concern is raised, regardless whether against a member of staff, passenger or visitor to the vessel, there may be several different investigations including protection of the child, possible violation of criminal laws, and discipline for misconduct.

    The results of the child protection and criminal investigations may well influence and inform the disciplinary investigation. While all available information should be considered, the primary consideration should always be safeguarding the child.

    Emergency planning and response with respect to youth activity centers

    Every CLIA cruise line with youth activity centers should ensure that emergency planning and response procedures unique to the facility are addressed, including notification of responsible parents or guardians and means of reuniting them with their child. These procedures should be included in each individual company’s emergency operation plan.

    Supervision and Surveillance

    Each CLIA cruise line should maintain a policy that ensures that all times the youth activity center is in operation; children are adequately supervised by youth staff. Youth activity centers should have video surveillance cameras installed, capable of recording images in and around the youth activity center, with exception to restrooms. Youth activity centers should establish an age-appropriate check-in/check-out procedure for children. Appropriate measures should be taken to ensure compliance with the company’s practices and this policy.

    1 Taking into account any relevant national laws.

  • Security Incidents

    While CLIA cruise lines make every effort to deter criminal activity on board their ships, ship security staff must be prepared to effectively respond to an alleged incident. Many lines have already adopted security practices in accordance with this policy and it is envisioned that all members will develop security practices that advance this Policy. Nothing in this Policy is intended to detract from the Master’s overriding authority and responsibility to ensure the safety or welfare of his or her passengers, crew and ship.

    This Policy is intended to identify steps to be considered in response to a security incident. The steps outlined in this policy are encouraged to be included in the training provided to shipboard staff. One source that may be utilized to train shipboard staff on the elements listed below is the incident scene management training materials prepared by the U.S. Federal Bureau of Investigation.

    In addition to considering this Policy, each CLIA cruise line should prepare incident response procedures based on national (flag State) and international rules and regulations, other applicable laws and/or legal directives. Member procedures should emphasize the responsibility of ship Security Officers to exercise best efforts to provide for the safety and welfare of passengers, crewmembers, and ships. The procedures should also emphasize the responsibility of ship Security Officers to effectively preserve incident evidence for investigation by proper law enforcement authorities.

    Abuse recognition and reporting

    • The safety of all involved persons and all persons in the area.
    • The involvement of medical assistance where appropriate.

    Secure the incident scene

    • Establish and maintain control of the scene pending directives from law enforcement.

    Reporting responsibilities

    • Given consideration for the circumstances, proper maritime authorities, law enforcement authorities, and shore side responders should be notified promptly of alleged crimes, security incidents or security threats in accordance with legal mandates.
    • In the case of persons suspected of having gone overboard, the Master should follow recognized, established maritime search and rescue practices.

    Victim assistance considerations

    • Consider whether victims may require special accommodations or support services and arrange for such assistance as appropriate.
    • Inform the victim of the name of the law enforcement agency(s) to which the incident was reported and provide the victim with their contact information.


    Depending on the circumstances, the following actions should be considered and where possible guided by involved law enforcement authorities:

    • follow direction and guidance from shore side security personnel and involved law enforcement authorities;
    • conduct interviews of appropriate involved persons, which may include victim(s), suspect(s), and witness(es);
    • identify the steps that should be taken to address the safety and security of all persons involved, the vessel, or any other persons on board; and document pertinent facts and information.