Norwegian Cruise Line (NCL) announced today that it will hire lifeguards on certain of its cruise ships, according to a press release.
The press release, which also advertises "27 dining options, award-winning entertainment, superior guest service and more across all of the brand’s 14 ships," states that NCL will finally employ "certified lifeguards" on a limited number of cruise ships this summer. NCL will hire lifeguards throughout the rest of the NCL fleet sometime in 2018.
NCL indicated today that it will first employ lifeguards on its largest ships, including the Norwegian Epic, Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway and Norwegian Breakaway.
NCL says that for the last several years it employed what it called "pool monitors" to supervise swimming pools on certain of its ships. These individuals, however, were not certified in advanced life-saving training by the American Red Cross.
Disney Cruises has hired lifeguards for the past several years, following a near-drowning of a four year old boy which caused significant brain injury and eventually led to a multi-million settlement for the lifetime medical needs of the child.
Royal Caribbean became the second cruise line to hire lifeguards when it announced two months ago that it would abandon its ill-conceived swim-at-your-own-risk policy which led to numerous drownings and near drownings on Royal Caribbean ships.
In the past several years, several children drowned in swimming pools on NCL ships:
In February 2014, two small children were pulled from a pool on NCL's Norwegian Breakaway as the cruise ship was sailing from New York to the Bahamas. Both children were unresponsive. The younger child (age 4) died on the cruise ship. The other child (age 6) was medevaced by the Coast Guard.
Following the drowning on the Norwegian Gem, a woman on the cruise who witnessed what she described a "truly horrifying scene" with her family, started a petition via change org to convince NCL to hire lifeguards.
As I have written before, there has never been a public consensus regarding this issue, at least among people who pay for cruises. The majority of people responding to articles about children drowning in cruise ship swimming pools quickly attack the parents and even suggest that the parents should be arrested. Other readers selfishly voice petty concerns that they do not want to pay higher cruise fares if the cruise companies pass the costs of hiring lifeguards along to their guests.
The hard-core cruise fan site Cruise Critic asked its readers after Royal Caribbean adopted its new lifeguard policy: "Do you think cruise ships should have lifeguards?" Only a little over 30% said "Yes, you can’t be too careful," with around 20% saying that lifeguards should be employed only "on ships aimed at families." 40% of the Cruise Critic readers said "No, it’s not their responsibility," which seems heartless considering how many children have died on cruise ships without lifeguards.
So congratulations to NCL for joining Disney and Royal Caribbean as the only cruise lines with a demonstrated commitment to trying to keep children, and other guests, safe around pools at sea. Hopefully, industry giant Carnival will eventually follow suit.
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Image credit: Corgi5623 at English Wikipedia, CC BY-SA 3.0, commons / wikimedia.
April 20, 2017 Update: gCaptain published Norwegian Cruise Line Hires Lifeguards After Multiple Child Deaths. gCaptain writes: "The need for Lifeguards aboard cruise ships was first highlighted in the a highly controversial expose gCaptain published in 2013: Deadly Distractions – Parents Question Cruise Line Policy As Boy Remains In Coma..