What kind of defenses do cruise ships have?

I’m sure they have what amounts to some sort of armed security force on board. To break up drunken brawls, escalated disputes at the buffet, poker games gone wrong, etc.

But what about defenses in a larger sense, like big guns.

Some of those cruise ships head into distant and not well traveled waters, like the Alaskan coastal islands, for instance.

It seems that it’s a floating city of expensive cameras, ipods, jewelery and cash just waiting for some enterprising Siberian gypsies on a boat with a big weapon. Not all that hard to imagine. The takings would certainly be good, I would think.

It wouldn’t be that hard to make them stop the ship, really. Just throw one of the gypsies into the water where they are sure to be seen, instant rescue, ship stops.

I know that they could easily call the coastguard or marines but I’m thinking it would take some time for them to arrive. Also it doesn’t seem so difficult to get a compatriot onto the cruise ship staff to keep them from using the radio to make that call.

So I’m thinking that they must have had the same thoughts. What sort of defenses do they have?

Do they have anything larger than a side arm on a security guard?

The vast majority of cruise ships travel in very heavily travelled waters. I was just on an Alaskan cruise a few weeks ago, and those Alaskan coastal islands saw at least three huge cruise ships every day, and countless smaller boats. There is no way a boatful of “enterprising Siberian gypsies” could sneak in unobserved.

And, to answer your question, none of the cruise ships I’ve ever been on had any “big guns”.


They have high pressure fire hoses, which have other uses other than putting out fires.

The Coast Guard isn’t that far away anywhere in US waters.

No, not that I’ve ever heard of. Pirates got onto one off the coast of Africa fairly recently.

Mostly they don’t operate in places where pirates do.

Pirates need a base to operate from where questions aren’t asked. There are not so many places like that these days. Russia wouldn’t tolerate it. Indonesia does. Some anarchic African countries do. Some South American ports are a problem, though on a fairly petty scale. China had a few instances of piracy in the last say 20 years (and for the few thousand before that), very probably involving corrupt officials giving cover.

As a pirate you need to be fairly close to your base, especially these days when aircraft are going to catch you up the minute you are sprung.

The Achille Lauro event I’m sure changed some standard practices. Given that they have to traverse international waters, enter the waters of other countries, and have no reason to act as any retaliatory force, I’d say no. Worse things have happened to passenger ships, but on board defenses seem a bit extreme.

Generally none; I’ve heard that some cargo ships have had to use the fire-hose technique, but if your luxury cruise liner is in danger from pirates, you’re probably in the wrong place.

However, if you’re dead set on an iffy location, sonic weapons have been deployed, once.

Have you actually seen a cruise ship? They are twelve to fifteen stories tall and a quarter mile long. At sea, there isn’t really a way in, if the crew doesn’t want you in.
Using a man over board to attract attention, would be like a house fly trying to stop a car. Even if the did see the man in the water, the ship would be a mile or two away before it could stop.

While, they may have a few sidearms, locked away in the purser’s office, there isn’t really a need for armed police on board. Remember, everyone paid a fair amount for the privledge of being on board. Adults tend to behave in such situations.

Carnival is the only cruise line that I’ve seen wild drunkenness. Since they’re a little cheaper, you see a younger clientele. I’ve seen one guy taken away in handcuffs, but no one drew down on him. The rule is, if you misbehave, you get dropped off at the next port. You’re on your own to find your way home. That keeps most folks in line.

BTW, Alaskans are actually pretty civilized. As others have said, they may be more danger in remote locations, but, if the ship is in US/Canadian/Mexican waters, it’s pretty safe.

Maybe a little less TV? :smiley: (Sorry, my bad.)

That didn’t stop these guys from trying. The cruise ship drove them off with a totally rad acoustic weapon of some kind.

Personally, I think they should have blown their pirate asses to little pieces. It’d probably be excellent for business.

The QE2 did carry around 3000 combat equipped soldiers, it was for a little cruise in the South Atlantic which lasted a couple of months.

That’s a little baby excursion boat, holding only 302 passengers.

Since the OP was talking about Alaska cruises. I was referring to the boats that carry 1200 passengers.

Siberian gypsy pirates?

I don’t think this is what stops pilots. Various other sorts of cargo vessels also have high freeboard and it has not stopped pirate attacks. For a start, although the vessel may be as high as you say overall, there will be decks with openings at lower levels. Pirates have certainly been known to use grapples and climb ropes to get on board cargo vessels.

Secondly, your “house fly etc” analogy is inapt. The trick would be for the fly to make the car want to stop. If the pirates played “distressed vessel”, the cruise vessel would be required to stop. The pirates could send a flare up a sufficient distance from the cruise vessel to allow it time to stop. If the pirates then took those sent over by boat to assist hostage, who knows what might ensue.

The main thing is just that piracy is a high profile activity that only works when you have somewhere to hide nearby. Absent that, it’s like committing a blatant bank robbery in a small town in the middle of a flat prairie: it may be a soft target for the initial attack, but you stand out like dogs balls and have no where to run afterward.

Ah, that’d be “pirates” not “pilots”.

Tell that to Ruth.

I orphan make that mistake myself.

Siberian gypsy pirate Pandas!

Whith Blunderbusses, Snickersnees & Big Sticks With Nails Driven Through™!

That’s still 3-4 decks to grapple up, if not more. The Royal Caribbean Voyager class ships don’t have any outside decks (though there are some windows) until you get to deck 4. Not impossible, but still a big height to climb before being noticed!

Perhaps more importantly is the passenger screening process… similar to what you’d go through at customs at an airport, you have to go through a screening with X-Rays and metal detectors before getting on the ship on the first day, you have your photo taken and it is recorded onto your key card/payment card/ID for the cruise, and they check passports/other documents before you can get on board.

From each port of call, coming back onto the ship, you must swipe your key card to exit, and you must swipe it to come back onto the ship, both times it shows a security guard your picture (taken on the first day) and IME they are very vigilant about making sure they look directly at you to compare, even asking you to take off sunglasses so they can properly ID you. There is also a metal detector and an X-ray machine for your bags when you come back onto a ship. Add to that the fact that your room attendants, waiters, and various other staff learn to recognise you very quickly, it would be quite hard to get someone onto the ship in your place.

If you happen to stop in the US Virgin Islands, or, I assume, any other US stop, you get to encounter the Department of Homeland Security as well, which is just a whole lot of fun when you are one of 3300 people trying to be screened in order to leave the ship and enjoy your 9am-4pm stop in port! Somewhat better for non-Americans, simply because they screen us separately and there are invariably fewer of us!

And on the Alaskan inner passage, I don’t think there’s much time where the cruise ships are not in sight of the shore and at least two other cruise ships. The area may be remote, but it’s heavily traveled.

Band name!

I’m of Slovak gypsy pirate descent myself.

Clearly a fan of Gypsy Bordello? (Who are actually quite good)