How to Implement Effective and Passenger-Friendly Cruise Ship Security Procedures

February 23, 2016

The most recent attack that has occurred on a cruise ship was in 2004 when terrorists bombed the SuperFerry 14 in Manila Bay, Philippines resulting in 116 deaths. Attacks on cruise ships are not commonplace, but in today’s threat landscape there is a growing need to screen passengers and their belongings when they board cruise ships.  Similar to the extensive security checks performed at airports, passengers are also required to go through a thorough process before embarking on a cruise. 

While it is the role of the Transportation Security Administration, a part of the Department of Homeland Security, to adequately secure our nation’s airports, the United States Coast Guard is responsible for mandating the security rules and regulations for all United States cruise lines and cruise ships.  About two years ago, the U.S. Coast Guard announced plans to standardize passenger security screening procedures at cruise ship terminals throughout the country with the creation of the Terminal Screening Program (TSP). The program increases security at cruise ship terminals through the development of a standardized list of prohibited items, training standards, and screening procedures. The required screening procedures consist of a comprehensive scan of all the people embarking on the ship – passengers and crewmembers alike – as well as their luggage. The TSP also requires that cruise ship personnel undergo a pre-employment background screening. This screening process is similar to what airport personnel are required to go through.

In order to ensure the safety of passengers and crewmembers, we recommend using a combination of advanced bagging screening systems, walk-through metal detectors, explosive detection technology, and terrorist watch list matching. With a small footprint, walk-through metal detectors provide fast and effective security screening with minimal space requirements – making them ideal for ports where space may be limited. Additionally, transportable baggage screening systems that are easy to move and deploy allow security personnel to move them aside and store them when they are not in use. For cruise ship passengers, the vacation begins before they even board the ship so establishing an effective, integrated and seamless security operation that accounts for both security and passenger experience is of the utmost importance. 

With the passenger experience top of mind, one way to mitigate wait times, and surprises at the checkpoint, is by informing passengers to arrive early at the cruise terminal and educating them in advance on cruise line regulations so that the screening process can be as seamless as possible. In addition to the TSP, each cruise line has specific rules and regulations about what they may personally prohibit. Carnival Cruises Inc., for example, provides their customers with great information on what items are prohibited on the cruise ship, so passengers can be prepared for their trip and not risk having their personal items confiscated. 

We understand the importance of efficient and effective screening procedures that improve security without impacting throughput or passenger experience and we look forward to continuing to support the United States Coast Guard in enhancing the TSP to ensure the safety of cruise ship passengers and personnel.

Filed Under: Industry Q&A | Port Security | Technology & Screening Solutions