Don't Snooze Before You Cruise
Things You Should Know Before You Leave Port

You’re about to depart on your dream vacation.  Good for you -- you’ve earned it and you should enjoy it.  Here are just a few tips to keep that carefree vacation truly “carefree.” The cruise lines want you to have a good time and be safe but please be aware that if something goes wrong, they may no longer be your friend.  All of the security personnel, all of the medical personnel and every crew member on board that ship works for the cruise line and has their employer’s best interest at heart, not yours.  That said, there are some things you should know and some things you can do to protect yourself and your traveling companions.

Did you know…

  • While most cruise ships’ homeports are in the US, they are actually registered in foreign countries like Panama, Liberia or the Bahamas -- thereby avoiding US taxes, US labor laws and other US regulations related to safety and the environment.  This means that when an American passenger steps onto a cruise ship in an American port that passenger is stepping onto a piece of foreign territory outside the jurisdiction of the United States.

  • The number one crime reported on cruise ships is sexual assault.

  • There are no federal guidelines to establish minimum standards for medical care on cruise ships.

  • Legislation has recently been introduced in both the US House of Representatives (HR.6408) and the US Senate (S.3204), entitled The Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act of 2008, that would improve ship safety, provide for transparency in reporting crimes, improve crime scene response, improve security training procedures and enforce safety and environmental standards. As the bill’s author, Sen. John Kerry, stated, “Passenger safety should be the top priority for the cruise line industry, and it’s clear that they have work to do.”  You can support this bill by contacting your US representatives to voice your concern.

Things you can do…   

  • Be vigilant.  Use the buddy system on the ship and set rules for your children as you would at home.  Be aware of your surroundings just as you would in a city on land especially in nightclubs, casinos and swimming areas as these tend to be areas where predators may lurk.

  • Always check your cabin thoroughly when you enter, including the bathroom and closet, while your door is still open.  Check your locks to make sure they work and then remember to use them.  Never open your door to strangers.  

  • Never let your key card out of your sight.

  • Be aware that the lawful drinking age and legal limits for alcohol consumption, even legal age for sexual consent as we know it ashore, may not apply on a cruise. 

  • Be aware of the increasing use of date rape drugs and only drink beverages that you have witnessed being prepared.  Ask that bottles come unopened.  (This goes for when you are in ports as well.)

  • Should you witness someone go overboard, don’t jump in after them but report it to the crew immediately, always keeping your eyes on the victim and pointing to him or her.

Should you or your companions become the victim of a crime on board, or if you believe someone is missing, you should immediately contact the FBI at (202) 324-3000.

International Cruise Victims, ICV, is a not for profit organization. We consist of members who have been victims on cruise ships, are family members or friends of cruise ship victims, as well as others interested in our mission.
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Dianne Brimble - Death Onboard A Cruiise Ship, Dianne Brimble Died Of A Drug Overdose And Was Sexually Assaulted On The Pacific Sky. Her family, members of International Cruise Victims, Seek Answers
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