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Cruise Lines React In The Wake Of Terrorism

Cruise ships are operating at the highest level of security since yesterday's terrorist attack. "Our passengers come first," said Phil Kleweno, president of Princess Cruises, "and as always, we will make every possible effort to ensure their safety as they travel with us."

Most cruise lines have personnel working around the clock with passengers, travel agents, and U.S. port authorities to ensure the normal operations of their fleets.

Highly Trained Personnel

The 1985 hijacking of the Achille Lauro in the Mediterranean proved that cruise ships can be vulnerable to acts of terrorism. That event completely changed cruise line security. Now, cruise line security employees are highly trained in dealing with crime prevention.

Royal Caribbean selects security officers with experience in security and seafaring. Most of their security personnel are former British navy or marine officers with ship experience. Renaissance Cruises also selects security employees from the British navy, and many are former British Gurkha Regiment soldiers from Nepal. The Gurkhas are world-renowned soldiers and each must have a minimum of 15 years of military experience. In addition, many cruise lines hire contractors at various ports to provide intelligence and to help devise risk management strategies.

Passengers Cared For

For those Americans away from home, the stress of recent events has been enormous. Nonetheless, cruise lines are taking great care to comfort and reassure their American passengers.

Baltimore resident Stacey Smith, currently on her honeymoon cruise aboard Renaissance Cruises' R3 vessel in Tahiti, says the cruise line has been "amazing" in helping passengers. She says, "Passengers were informed of the terrorism attacks in the U.S. when the ship's alarms went off at 6:30 a.m. Tahiti time. We were told which television channel we could turn to for news. In addition, all of us were allowed to make phone calls from the ship to our families back home free of charge." She adds, "The staff has been professional, accommodating, and concerned about passengers with family members back in the New York area." She and her husband were supposed to be flying home on the 13th; however, that is not going to happen.

Cruises in Limbo

Passengers either ending or starting their cruises are in limbo given the lack of air service. Cruise lines are closely monitoring the situation.

Renaissance Cruises' spokesperson Brad Ball stated, "We will make every effort to help guests make necessary air connections once this mandate has been lifted." He adds, "Renaissance Cruises is currently working to make required arrangements for those guests that are in transition to and from their cruise for both current and future dates."

Passengers with any questions regarding the fate of their travel plans should contact their travel agent.

Important Insurance Notes

According to Lucy Hirleman, CTC, and President of Berkshire Travel in Newfoundland, NJ, "This catastrophic event is a gray area for the insurance companies. They are still trying to figure out what's covered."

Indeed, travel agents note that cruise lines are not required to refund money if a traveler decides to cancel—even when the U.S. State Department has issued travel warnings. As a rule, cruise lines' terms and conditions often state that operators are not responsible and have no liability for cancellations arising from wars, riots, or other incidents. The American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA) states that cancellation policies will vary widely from cruise line. Travelers may be able to cancel their trips, but it will usually cost a fee to do so.

For More Information:

Cruise Diva's Cruise News
American Society of Travel Agents (ASTA)

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