If you are cruising, and you think of safety issues, you probably think about the medical facilities on board, the cleanliness of the ship, and supervision of on-board activities. You may not give much thought to terrorism. One country is warning cruise passengers to be diligent about it in the coming months.
Italy Warns of Possible Threats
The Italian Ministry of Defense has warned that ISIS may engage in piracy of cruise ships on the seas, much like the Somali pirates that were highlighted in the recent “Captain Phillips” movie, which was based on true events. It’s well known Somali piracy affects merchant and commercial vehicles, but this is the first time we’ve heard of a government agency making a warning as to a passenger vehicle.
The problem is ISIS’ stronghold in Libya, which provides easy access to the Mediterranean, putting those routes—Italy, South of France, or the Greek Islands, for example—in potential danger.
The Cruise lines International Association (CLIA) hasn’t outwardly said what their plans are to combat such scenarios. It’s common knowledge that most ships have private security forces and even some retired police officers, but their true efficacy or training (or what equipment they actually have) hasn’t been disclosed or tested yet.
Most of the cruise lines that did speak about the matter said that they wouldn’t be altering routes, but that their cruise lines don’t go near Libya or its ports.
The appeal of such attacks goes beyond human lives, and into economics. Aside from pleasure cruises, creating danger in the Mediterranean would force businesses to ship via land or air, raising prices on many goods.
The Reality and Legalities of the Warning
It’s clearly too premature to know whether this is a credible warning, or just speculation and worry. Even the best equipped cruise ship would have limited ability to counter a real attack, and the law likely does not require that a cruise ship carry a fully equipped mini-army onboard to protect passengers.
Still, there are measures that cruise lines can and should take to ensure the protection of its passengers. Background checks on passengers, maintaining lists like the TSA does of possible suspects, and full video surveillance are all important steps in maintaining safety. And crew training to help them avoid and evade potential threats would be a big help.
Naturally, most lines won’t disclose what they are doing to make progress in these areas. But before you cruise, particularly overseas, a good background check into a company’s policies and procedures may be in order.
If you are injured while a passenger on a cruise ship, you have rights, but you should make sure you have attorneys that understand complex federal maritime laws. Talk to the Florida cruise ship attorneys at Gerson & Schwartz, P.A. today for a free consultation about your cruise injury case.