The local news media is reporting that Royal Caribbean recently received a bomb threat aboard the Liberty of the Seas cruise ship.
According to a news release by the U.S. Coast Guard, Royal Caribbean's reservation center in Wichita, Kansas received a call reporting a bomb aboard the cruise ship around 5:00 p.m. on Saturday, May 15th. Crew members searched the ship but did not find anything. The Liberty of the Seas proceeded on with the cruise and arrived back in Miami around 6:00 a.m. the next morning. FBI, Immigrations and Customs Enforcement, and Customs and Border Protection agents then boarded the cruise ship to look for explosives, but they did not find anything.
There have been a number of bomb threat hoaxes recently. Perhaps the most publicized one was when a passenger from Virginia named Ibrahim Khalil Zarou who was reportedly quite intoxicated - Bomb Hoax Gets Drunken Carnival Cruise Passenger Arrested
Fortunately, these bomb threats turned out to be hoaxes. But what if they were real?
In this most recent bomb threat, the FBI and other federal agencies did not board the cruise ship until eleven hours later.
Are cruise lines equipped to handle a real terrorist threat on the high seas? Most cruise lines have as few as 2 or 3 security guards on duty at night and some lines do not monitor their surveillance cameras (except in the casinos). Is this adequate security for 3,000 to 4,000 passengers and crew?
Our experience suggests that the few security personnel on cruise ships have a difficult enough time deterring or responding to bar fights between drunken passengers. A real terrorist threat on the high seas will pose a real problem to the cruise industry.
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Liberty of the Seas photograph News 7 Miami