The cruise industry, which has remained on high alert since
Sept. 11, added more security measures last week as war appeared to
be all but inevitable.
“We have been at the very highest level of security preparedness
for the past 18 months,” said Lynn Martenstein, vice president of
corporate communications for Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. “Still,
in recent days, we have added even more measures, from additional
security personnel to increased screening procedures.”
Overall, security is of the highest concern to the cruise lines,
said Michael Crye, president of the International Council of Cruise
“We have a great stake in the safety and security of our
passengers and crew,” he said, “because the future of our industry
depends on it.”
The res lines were ringing with cancellations, but Holland
America Line-Westours CEO Kirk Lanterman said the number was “not
“I’m surprised, but maybe it’s still coming,” he said. “Bookings
have been slow for a long time, but we’re still just booking
Some companies are increasing onboard access to CNN and other
television news so passengers won’t feel disconnected from
And RCCL said it would increase religious services onboard.
“It’s normal for people to want to congregate with other people in
a religious setting in times like this,” Martenstein said.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Coast Guard has increased patrols of ports,
waterways and coastlines, boosted the number of escorts for
passenger ships and the number of armed marshals deployed to ensure
smooth arrivals and departures. In addition, divers are continuing
to check ports for underwater threats.
Since 9/11 the cruise lines have maintained stringent security
measures, including comprehensive screening programs that far
exceed current airport standards.
“We screen all provisions, materials, everything going onto a
ship, using X-ray machines, metal detectors, dog teams and humans,”
Martenstein said. Most lines now also require passengers and crew
members to present identification cards, which have magnetic strips
carrying digital photos, to prevent unauthorized people from
boarding ships at port stops.
Also, manifests of all passengers and crew members are reviewed
by federal authorities.
“We have a military officer serving as a security officer on
every ship, overseeing an experienced security force,” Martenstein
said. “We work very closely with the port authorities, Coast Guard,
Immigration and Naturalization Service, customers, FBI and
Interpol. There are lots of phone calls, lots of meetings and lots
Many cruise lines that moved ships from the Mediterranean to
North America after Sept. 11 and then had to return them when
demand rebounded are taking a wait-and-see attitude. But it is
likely that itineraries including Turkey or Greece will be
One company, Oceania Cruises, already has changed two open-jaw
itineraries to avoid turnarounds in Istanbul. But the line, which
has yet to operate its first cruise, attributed the change to what
it called “unprecedented demand” for western Mediterranean
Holland America Line and its sister company, Windstar Cruises,
have four ships scheduled to sail in the Mediterranean this summer.
“We feel confident that they’ll be there, otherwise we would’ve
pulled them by now,” Lanterman said. But the Prisendam, originally
scheduled for the Mediterranean, will sail to Alaska from San
Francisco this summer, avoiding a repositioning cruise.
Princess Cruises says it is meeting customer demand by keeping
the Grand Princess in the Caribbean. But the Golden Princess still
has a 12-day Med itinerary.
“As of yet, we’ve not taken any further decision to make any
changes in our deployment, although we continue to monitor events
very closely,” said a Princess spokeswoman, Julie Benson .
RCCL plans to operate three Royal Caribbean and two Celebrity
ships in Europe this summer.
“We do not, at the present time, anticipate moving any of these
ships out of Europe,” Martenstein said. “That said, if the
near-certain war unfolds, it may be necessary to make minor
adjustments to the itineraries of some of the ships, which could be
changing a port in Turkey.”