Frequently Asked Questions - Safety & Security

Most of our officers attend an accredited institution, such as a Maritime Academy or University, for their maritime training, usually for four to five years. This time is a combination of classroom instruction and time spent at sea. Officer's licenses are issued by their home countries, and each country has their own requirements and exams. Licenses are tied together internationally by licensing standards known as STCW (Standards for Certification, Training, and Watchkeeping). STCW is an IMO standard similar to SOLAS, only it's for training. While countries may have different systems, they all must comply with the Standards for Certification, Training, and Watchkeeping. Beyond licenses, each officer needs a license endorsement from the Flag State of where the ship is registered. The endorsement is an acknowledgment that the officer's national license is acceptable to the Flag State and meets all Standards for Certification, Training, and Watchkeeping requirements.

Besides the required training, we also send our officers to our company's required training. Examples of this are: Bridge Navigation Management (BRM), a navigation simulator course, a navigation system training course, or an equipment specific course, such as pod training.

There are usually two or three levels that lead up to a Master - Unlimited license ('Unlimited' means any size of ship). Each country requires specific amounts of sea service on specific sizes of ships in order to increase the license level. They may also require formal exams at each level.

The Captain is in charge of a ship however, we practice Bridge Resource Management (BRM) - and part of that is to encourage personnel on the bridge to question and when necessary, challenge the Captain.

Each ship has two dedicated Captains assigned to it. Each Captain alternates their time at the helm. If there is ever a time when a Captain is called away from the ship, the Staff Captain is fully trained and licensed to act as the Master of the vessel. Also, at any given time, we can have a few Officers who have also met all the requirements, including all of the required licensing and are ready to be Master Captains, but they continue as staff captains until a Captain position opens up.

Our Captains are typically selected and appointed from within our own fleet. They have to have a marine license (at the level of Master - Unlimited Tonnage) and most of our Captains have approximately 15 years of experience before promotion to Captain. There are also many various marine training courses and examinations that they are required to take throughout the course of their career as an Officer.

All of our Captains hold a Master - Unlimited license. On our ships, we require the Captain and the Staff Captain to hold a Master - Unlimited license. At any given time, we can have a few Officers who have met all the requirements and are ready to be Captains, but they continue as staff captains until a Captain position opens up. The final step in the process to be promoted to Captain is an interview with our shoreside leadership team. Most of our Captains have approximately 15 years of experience before they are promoted to Captain. Currently, each of our Captains has an average of 25 years of experience on the seas.

The cruise industry is a heavily regulated industry, and the safety of our guests and crew is always our highest priority.

  • All cruise ships are designed and operated in compliance with the strict requirements of the International Maritime Organization, the UN agency that mandates global standards for the safety and operation of cruise ships through adoption of treaties, regulations and resolutions, codified in the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) Convention.
  • Safety-related regulations and requirements are rigorous – and we often go substantially above and beyond what is required; for example, carrying backup mechanical, navigational and safety provisions.
  • Our ships' crews undertake extensive training, certification, drills and scenarios in preparation for the very unlikely event of an emergency, including training on ship evacuation procedures.
  • Our vessels, regardless of where they sail in the world, comply with the U.S. Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) requirements, including railing heights, access control, closed circuit TV, medical preparedness, crime allegation reporting and crew training. Our own requirements generally exceed those specified within the CVSSA. We work closely with regulatory authorities to improve safety laws, and regularly participate in discussions and studies to inform legislators of current practices and offer our perspective on regulations and standards to assure safety.
  • Flag State authorities and other maritime safety regulatory bodies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard, from each country our ships visit also regularly inspect our ships. Their examinations focus on life-saving equipment and safety and environmental protection items and these officials have the authority to prevent our ships from sailing if we fail to adhere to regulations. In addition to these inspections, ongoing system of internal as well as external (independent) marine expert audits also helps us remain vigilant, safely operate our ships and maintain effective systems

The life saving crafts onboard our ships are tested once a month, which is over and above what is required, which is once every three months. During this test, the life saving crafts are lowered into the water and pulled away from the ship.

The number of life saving crafts varies depending on the class/size of ship. All of our ships have sufficient survival crafts for everyone on board, plus additional capacity in reserve, per regulatory requirements.

While the ship's officers and security team receive specialized training, every crew member must participate in safety and security training modules, so that they are prepared to respond quickly and effectively in the event of an emergency. We also conduct weekly, monthly and annual drills on all our ships, to train and prepare for response to a variety of potential situations. In addition, each of our vessels is equipped with advanced fire detection and suppression systems, and each ship has highly trained personnel onboard who can effectively respond to and manage a report of a fire.

Even though fire risk is minimal, fire suppression systems are installed throughout all areas of the vessel. The primary fire suppression system on most ships converts water into a mist state that presents more surface area for smoke and heat to be absorbed. Water mist systems are very effective and also safe for people who may be near them when they are activated. In areas such as engine spaces and galleys, we have installed both water mist and CO2 systems. In addition, we have gone Above and Beyond Compliance with regulations by installing foam systems in various technical areas and wet chemical extinguishers in all of our galleys, that are especially effective in the case of oil based fire.

Our ships are also equipped with an extensive series of fire sensors, which are monitored by crew members on the bridge and in the engine control rooms. If a fire detector indicates there may be a fire onboard, response personnel are immediately dispatched to the area to evaluate the situation. If indicated, mobile firefighting groups respond, outfitted with full firefighter gear, breathing apparatus and special heat-seeking systems that use thermal-imaging cameras. These cameras (both hand-held and helmet-mounted) help to quickly identify the source of a fire and to locate any people who may be in the affected area. Responding crew also have access to an Impulse Fire Extinguisher (IFEX), which shoots a blast of water using pressurized air and is ideal for rapid response in quickly suppressing a fire. With these tools, our highly trained personnel on the bridge and on the scene can manage fire-related situations effectively.

Although all of our vessels are equipped with advanced fire detection and suppression systems, fire safety really begins with prevention. Our ships are constructed and outfitted to comply with stringent international fire safety regulations, including requirements for fire integrity of bulkheads (walls) and windows and fixtures onboard (such as furniture and carpets). Our ships are inspected throughout construction by third-party safety inspectors from recognized classification societies and port state safety agencies like the U.S. Coast Guard.

If the main electrical power source is lost, we have plans for a contingency and we move to using the emergency generators. These are typically located on the upper decks and they have their own fuel supply and are completely independent. The generators can provide emergency lighting, operate elevators and even provide power to re-start the engines, if necessary. They can also power communication channels - radio, telefax, email, so the ship can continue to communicate with shoreside.

Each ship has alternate muster stations available throughout the ship and each crew member at all locations are trained in mustering procedures.

During the mustering process, trained crew with high visibility vests will be posted throughout the ship to assist guests with disabilities. In addition to posted personnel, specially trained crew teams are available to assist guests with special needs. In addition, if for any reason people cannot get to their designated muster/assembly station the Ship's emergency plan calls for crew to check every stateroom and space on the ship to ensure guests have made it to their assembly stations, and that if someone needs assistance to do so, it is provided.

The muster procedure, as part of the Youth Evacuation Program, will ensure that children are brought to the muster station where they would be reunited with their parents / guardians. This is also mentioned of this in the general muster drill announcement.

Guests that board the ship at a different port of call are provided with a "Guest Joining Downline" letter prior to departure from the port of embarkation. They also receive a verbal safety briefing in person prior to departure from their port of embarkation.

In case of larger groups (1% of total guest capacity), a muster drill is organized and conducted. The letter and briefing shall contain (as a minimum) the following information in English and other appropriate languages:

  • Clear instructions to be followed in case of an emergency
  • Location of the guest's Muster/Assembly Station
  • The essential actions to be taken in an emergency
  • The method of donning a lifejacket

All of our ships' officers receive specialized training, and every crew member must participate in safety training modules so they are prepared to respond quickly and effectively in the unlikely event of an emergency. We also conduct weekly, monthly, quarterly and annual drills on all of our ships, to train and prepare our crew to respond to a variety of potential situations. In addition, each of our vessels is equipped with advanced fire detection and suppression systems, and every ship has highly trained personnel onboard who can effectively respond to and manage these systems.

Guests should not bring life jackets to the muster drill. In the unlikely event of an emergency, our procedures direct guests to precede directly to their muster stations upon hearing the emergency signal. This reduces the chance for cross-traffic and improves response time at muster stations, as guests do not need to return to their staterooms to retrieve their lifejackets if they are in another part of the ship at the time. Once a guest arrives at their muster station, a crew member will provide them with a life jacket. In the unlikely event of an emergency, one of the most important aspects is to account for all persons onboard, and this process facilitates that accountability. We also store additional life jackets at each muster station.

Guests should not bring life jackets to the muster drill. In the unlikely event of an emergency, our procedures direct guests to precede directly to their muster stations upon hearing the emergency signal. This reduces the chance for cross-traffic and improves response time at muster stations, as guests do not need to return to their staterooms to retrieve their lifejackets if they are in another part of the ship at the time. Once a guest arrives at their muster station, a crew member will provide them with a life jacket. In the unlikely event of an emergency, one of the most important aspects is to account for all persons onboard, and this process facilitates that accountability.

Announcements for the guest assembly drill are usually made in English. The announcements are also made in additional core languages when we have large numbers of guests onboard who do not speak English. On some sailings, announcements may be made in the language of the market, then followed by English and any other approved core language(s).

The International Convention of Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) regulatory guidelines require that a muster drill be held within 24 hours of embarkation. However, the muster drill for guests on any ship in our fleet is to be held prior to departure on embarkation day.

Muster drill is a mandatory exercise with the objective to familiarize all guests and crew with the location (muster station) where they are to assemble in the unlikely event of an emergency. During this drill, additional safety information (i.e., how to put on a life jacket) is presented.

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