Piracy: Can Cruise Lines Increase Passenger Safety?

Piracy continues to be a hot topic in the news, and I find myself engulfed in the on-going saga. Somalian pirates have made good on their word to pirate more ships and take more crew members hostage in an effort to retaliate for the shooting deaths of three pirates who held U.S. Captain Phillips for ransom.

After my experience on the Andrea Doria, safety at sea is my passion. In light of recent events, I find myself wondering how the safety of cruise line passengers can be increased against the threat of piracy. Just this week, Carnival cruise lines announced they are working to ensure cruise passenger safety.  While Howard Frank, Carnival’s Chief Operating Officer, did not provide specific details, he did indicate Carnival is working with British, American, and other allied forces to address this issue. In related news, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton summarized a four-point strategic plan aimed at reducing the piracy rampage. One of her points supports the use of armed weapons on board ships.

I’m not privy to what has been discussed between Carnival and the various military powers, nor am I convinced armed crew members on cruise ships will deter a pirate toting automatic weapons. However, short of keeping cruise line routes within sight of land and patrolled by military vessels, I do not have a solution. Do you have one to share?

Let’s hope the cruise industry and the military forces are able to quickly formulate an effective plan for ocean-passenger safety.

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