Yahoo Travel just interviewed me for its article Is Your Cruise Ship Prepared for a Terrorist Attack?
There are nearly 500 comments to the article some of which are quite interesting to read.
The Yahoo article does not really touch upon the issue that cruise ships are largely unarmed. So regardless how you feel about the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, the cruise ships by and large don't have armed security guards. Contrary to people who want to believe that the ships are armed but the cruise lines don't want to tip their hand to the terrorists, there is in fact no hidden cache of weapons ready to be deployed by the cruise ship's security forces.
Cruise ships are flagged in foreign countries like the Bahamas or Panama. The international Maritime Organization (IMO) has no authority to regulate the use of guns on these foreign flagged ship. The IMO does not even recommend that cruise ships have guns.
We have written about the dangerous current set of affairs where some cruise ships are sailing into Somali pirate infested waters where the few security guards had to use fake wooden rifles, deck chairs and water cannons to fight off pirates armed with rocket propelled grenades. You can read about pirate attacks against cruise ships here:
Some cruise ships go as far as to install razor wire around the rails and position logs to be dropped on the pirates below if they run their skiffs up to the cruise ship. You can see a photo of this spectacle here.
As we explained in this article, the IMO issued "guidance" on the use of armed guards on ships, but stresses that it is still not recommending them. Instead it states that shipping companies should consider arming crew members or hiring private armed guards on board only after conducting a risk assessment subject to approval by the flag state. The IMO also recommends that shipping companies follow all laws and regulations imposed by that flag state regarding the use of armed guard apply to their vessels.
The only cruise ships which seems to permit weapons aboard are flagged in Italy, which seems to have a different attitude towards guns and permits cruise ships flagged there (like Costa) to have weapons aboard.
A Costa ship got itself into a bit of scandal a couple of years ago when a female crew member was photographed holding a huge automatic weapon in the bridge of the cruise ship. The Italian newspaper Oggi published photographs of the attractive Romanian blonde, Sasha Alexandra, posing in the bridge of the Costa Atlantica. She was photographed next to the captain in a tight cocktail dress holding a large machine gun.
But cruise ships from Carnival, Royal Caribbean or NCL, flying the flags of the Bahamas or Panama, have no weapons at sea.
One reader on our Facebook page remarked:
"Cruise lines can't even keep the Ranch Dressing filled at the salad bar . . You are fooling yourself if you think they would be able to fight off an armed boarding / takeover attempt."
I tend to agree.
Photo Credit: Oggi via Telegraph