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    Are There Jails on Cruise Ships?

According to the Department of Transportation (DOT), sexual assaults make up about 75% of all crimes on cruise ships reported from 2010 to 2022, with 70% happening on Royal Caribbean or Carnival ships. With rape, assault, and other crimes happening, many cruise ship passengers are starting to question the security measures cruise lines have to ensure the safety of their guests.

Ehline Law and our cruise ship accident attorneys have over 15 years of extensive experience helping cruise ship accident victims get the compensation they deserve. We understand how concerning security is for cruise ship passengers, and here we will go over the security protocols deployed in most cruise ships registered in the United States.

Are There Jails on Cruise Ships?

Not all cruise ships have jails onboard, but they all have a plan in case the crew members need to address a threat. The cruise industry does not disclose its policies on handling crimes on the cruise lines, but every cruise line has a plan.

Some cruise lines may place the offender on a cabin’s arrest, while others will lock the offender in a cell (commonly referred to as a brig) crew members have access to, guarded by the security guard onboard. The onboard jail or detention area is away from the guests and located in crew member areas only.

On larger cruise ships, there are safe lockup rooms or padded cells with beds, while smaller cruise ships have alternative ways of controlling a threat onboard.

A cruise ship security team has to decide on whether someone goes to jail or disembarks, and they must take the decision as soon as possible to avoid any further altercations involving the offender and other guests to ensure the safety of other passengers.

The cruise lines do not intend to keep offenders under lockup for a greater period of time, and placing an offender in a brig is the last resort, something that the cruise line tries to avoid. Instead of jailing the passenger, most cruise lines would have them locked up in their cabin room.

What Are Cruise Ship Jails Like?

Since these jails are there to hold offenders, don’t expect anything luxurious as expected of cruise ships. The brigs are pretty basic and are small rooms designed similarly to modern jail cells rather than the traditional jails with iron bars. Usually, the cruise ship jail door is made of steel rather than iron bars and has a “Brig” sign.

Modern cruise ships have jails that contain a room with a bed, shower, and toilet, all the necessary amenities a riled-up passenger needs until they’re removed from the cruise ship at the relevant port. You may not find a shower or toilet in a cruise ship brig on a small vessel.

The aim of a cruise ship jail is to hold a passenger for a short period of time until the threat subsides or until the cruise ship arrives at the next port, where they will hand over the passenger to law enforcement authorities if required.

Can You See Cruise Ship Jails on a Cruise Ship?

Although cruise ships have jails, not all allow passengers to view the brig. However, some cruise lines, such as the Carnival Cruise Line, offer tours of the entire cruise ship, including lower decks which are typically not open to passengers.

On the Carnival Cruise Line, the “Behind the Fun Tour” allows passengers to walk past the brig and see what it’s like.

Are There Security Measures in Place While a Cruise Ship Is at Sea?

Cruise lines have security measures in place and provide crew members with the necessary training regarding crime and reporting. 

Although the security measures may vary from one cruise line to another, the following are some general onboard security measures a cruise line has in place:

  • The safety team scans every bag and guest when passengers board cruise ships to ensure no one carries any prohibited items. When the security team finds any banned items, they may remove them from the passenger’s possession or deny them access to the cruise. Drugs, firearms, knives, and flammable substances are some examples of prohibited items.
  • A cruise ship has several trained security guards onboard with various roles that provide security on a cruise ship 24/7. They know the steps to take if a crime occurs aboard a cruise ship.
  • The cruise ship security team is responsible for reporting all crimes that happen on a cruise to the cruise ship captain and the relevant authorities.

It is a legal requirement for all cruise ships to have a security team present, which may involve guards, supervisors, and security officers. The team is responsible for the safety of the cruise ship passengers and the crew members by implementing and enforcing policies across all parts of the cruise ship and reporting unusual incidents during their safety rounds.

Cruise Ships Have Security Guards and Others That Make up the Security Team

A cruise ship security team may consist of a cruise ship security officer, security guard, supervisor, company security officer, and many others. Most of these have experience working in the military or as security officers in the hospitality industry.

Security guards on cruise ships are responsible for safety rounds, inspecting and maintaining security to ensure the safety of the passengers and employees.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Cruise Ship Security Supervisor

Security supervisors are responsible for supervising and controlling ship entry, and they conduct safety rounds to inspect the safety of the ship and the cabins. 

Some skills required to become a security supervisor include excellent managerial skills, organizational operations pertaining to safety, and conflict resolution skills.

Roles and Responsibilities of a Cruise Ship Security Officer

A cruise ship security officer is responsible for implementing and maintaining a cruise ship security plan while coordinating with the port facility security officer and other relevant personnel.

Some of the roles and responsibilities of a cruise ship security officer include the following:

  • Carrying out regular safety inspections throughout the shift
  • Changing the cruise ship security plan when required and offering proposals on the necessary changes
  • Provide valuable input in the ship security plan and assessment
  • Provide the relevant training to the ship’s crew members in tackling security issues
  • Inform the cruise line and the ship’s captain about any security incident that arises
  • Assist other security officers in carrying out their duties

Reasons Why a Guest May Face Jail Time on a Cruise

There are several reasons why a guest may end up in a cruise ship brig, and some of the most important ones include the following.

Cruise Ships Have Jails for Passengers Who Commit a Serious Crime

If the guest committed a serious crime, such as assault or murder, aboard the cruise ship, the security team must place them in the brig to prevent harm to other passengers. Once the cruise ship arrives at a port, the local authorities would take the offender into custody for further action.

Although murders are pretty rare on cruise ships, they do happen. The following are some of the horrifying murders that took place during cruises:

  • Tamara Loraine Tucker became a victim of murder at the hands of her long-term lover Eric after an argument broke out on a Carnival Elation cruise ship in 2018. Eric strangulated Tucker before pushing her from the 13th deck, causing her to drop onto the 11th. The fall resulted in severe trauma leading to her death.
  • In 2019, a married couple, Kristy and Kenneth Manzanares were on an Emerald Princess cruise heading to Alaska when Kenneth beat Kristy to death before attempting to throw her body over the balcony. The people in the opposite cabin saw Kenneth drag Kristy’s lifeless body toward the balcony, resulting in them reporting the crime.
  • In 2015, Darla J Mellinger died at the hands of her husband on Holland America’s Ryndam after her husband found out she was texting another man. He broke a glass and used it as a weapon to stab his wife before hanging himself in the bathroom.

Cruise Ships Have Jails for Passengers Who Are a Danger to Themselves or Others Around Them

Putting people in jail on a cruise is something that cruise lines avoid, but if the passenger is threatening to hurt themselves or others around them, the security team may not have any other option but to place the passenger in jail. 

Another incident where a passenger could be a threat to themselves and others around them is when they’ve had a little bit too much to drink. Cruise lines must refuse the sale of alcoholic drinks to the already intoxicated passenger and place them under cabin arrest or in jail.

Cruise Ship Have Jails for Passengers Who Try to Scam Cruise Lines

Surprisingly, some people go on cruises to scam the cruise line into giving them a free cruise. These people fake a slip-and-fall accident and blame the cruise line hoping to receive some form of compensation. 

However, cruise ships have CCTV cameras onboard which means that they can investigate the accident to determine whether the passenger is telling the truth about the accident.

Although this wouldn’t warrant a visit to the jail, in some situations where the passenger violates the cruise line rules (going into crew member’s areas only) in the pursuit of their scam, the security team may place them in jail.

What Happens in a Cruise Ship Jail?

Whether the passenger committed a serious crime or was a threat to passenger safety, the security team will escort them to the brig, where they will detain them and confiscate their passport, smartphone, and cruise card.

The offender will typically be in the clothes they were in before the incident unless they’re inappropriate, in which case, the cruise ship will provide them with basic clothing. A cruise ship security team member will conduct safety rounds every 30 minutes to check up on the detained passenger.

The cruise ship will arrange water, food (usually basic), and any required medications. The detained passenger cannot have visitors at the brig but may be able to call their lawyer if needed.

Unfortunately, the passenger has to stay in the cruise ship brig until it arrives at the next port, where the security team will hand them over to the local authorities.

You May Want to Pursue a Personal Injury Lawsuit

Although a cruise ship may take measures against the perpetrator that harmed you, such as cabin arrest or jail detention, and let law enforcement handle the rest at the next port, you also have the right to pursue a personal injury lawsuit against the cruise line if their negligence resulted in your injuries.

A cruise ship is responsible for the safety of its guests while on the cruise, including protecting them from other passengers and crew members. If the cruise ship did not have adequate security onboard or failed to conduct the necessary inspections, they may be liable for the damages.

The laws surrounding your personal injury claim may vary depending on the circumstances of your injuries. Cruise ship claims are often complex, which is why it is crucial that you speak to an experienced personal injury attorney to discuss your case.

Schedule a Free Consultation with Ehline Law

If you’ve suffered injuries on a cruise ship due to the crew member’s negligence, contact us at (833) LETS-SUE for a free consultation, as you may be able to seek compensation.

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Michael Ehline

Michael Ehline is an inactive U.S. Marine and world-famous legal historian. Michael helped draft the Cruise Ship Safety Act and has won some of U.S. history’s largest motorcycle accident settlements. Together with his legal team, Michael and the Ehline Law Firm collect damages on behalf of clients. We pride ourselves on being available to answer your most pressing and difficult questions 24/7. We are proud sponsors of the Paul Ehline Memorial Motorcycle Ride and a Service Disabled Veteran Operated Business. (SDVOB.) We are ready to fight.