Every year, Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. provides more than 4.8 million guests with an enjoyable cruise vacation. Although we work hard to prevent incidents, regrettably incidents do sometimes occur. For this reason, it is important to be prepared to effectively respond to incidents. RCL’s safety and security preparedness efforts include training our crew to handle situations so as to minimize their impact on guest and crew.
Each Royal Caribbean Cruises Ltd. ship is staffed with a security team that is part of the ship’s permanent crew. The Staff Captain, who is also the second in command, oversees the Security Department. The Security Officer is the head of the security team and is responsible for day-to-day security operations onboard. The Security Officer is typically supported by one or more Deputy Security Officers and Supervisors, who direct the activities of a team of guards.
We recruit our onboard security professionals from around the world and hire candidates with backgrounds in the military, law enforcement or private security sectors. Our recruiting process involves conducting face-to-face interviews with candidates before they are considered for hire. We conduct such interviews in many places around the world, to find the best talent available.
We require our security personnel be fully familiar with international regulations and provide them with internal specialized training as well as training that results in certification from government-accredited companies. In addition, each security team member who works on an RCL ship with a U.S. itinerary must obtain a visa from the U.S. Department of State. This requirement helps strengthen our recruitment and screening process, as any applicant for the security team who is denied a visa by the U.S. Government will not be hired.
Each Security Officer is independently certified by an outside organization as having met the knowledge requirements of RCL’s internal security processes, as well as the U.S. Government (CVSSA) security requirements and standards. On an annual basis, every Security Officer in our fleet participates in a week-long shoreside security seminar held in Miami that is continually reviewed and modified to incorporate new measures and national and international requirements. This curriculum also includes role-playing in different shipboard security scenarios to allow the Security Officers to practice their skills. In addition, U.S. federal law enforcement agencies, including the FBI, the Drug Enforcement Administration, Customs and Border Protection, and Homeland Security Investigations, have participated and provided up-to-date presentations in their respective fields of expertise.
Our Security Officer training also places an important emphasis on access security. Access security training topics include technical equipment, recognition of characteristics of persons who may threaten security, crowd control and management and conflict resolution.
In addition to the specialized training that our officers and security staff receive, every crew member must undergo ship familiarization and emergency assignment training upon reporting onboard and before performing their duties. This training is overseen by the Safety Officer and the Security Officer, and includes Security Awareness Training, Pre-Departure Safety Training, Ship Safety Orientation Training, Crowd Management Training and Personnel Nominated to Assist Passengers in an Emergency Training. Specific training modules are also delivered for each crew functional area.
RCL crews are regularly trained and drilled on a variety of topics and scenarios. Some of these are mandated by regulations, while others are a part of RCL’s Above and Beyond Compliance focus. As an example, our crew practices its abandon ship procedures much more frequently than is currently mandated (twice per month versus the once every three months required by regulations). Other types of required drills include: Fire Fighting, Search and Rescue, Medical, Emergency Steering, Blackout Recovery, Crowd Management, Lifeboat Command, Damage Control, Chemical and Oil Spill, Man Overboard and Security Threats.
Crew members also take part in a variety of other company-required training topics such as leadership, safety observation, ethics, communication and environmental policy training. In addition, all crew members must complete pre-departure safety training, which includes a walk through the vessel with the safety officer to identify different safety systems, escape routes, and guest safety issues.
We also have special systems and procedures in place to ensure effective preparedness in case of fire. While each of our ships is equipped with advanced fire detection and suppression systems, fire safety really begins with prevention. Our ships are constructed and outfitted to comply with stringent international fire safety regulations, including requirements for fire integrity of bulkheads (walls) and windows, and fire resistance characteristics of fixtures onboard (such as furniture and carpets). Our ships are inspected throughout construction by third-party safety inspectors from recognized classification societies, and flag and port state safety agencies, such as the U.S. Coast Guard.
Even though fire risk is minimal, fire suppression systems are installed throughout each ship. The primary fire suppression system on most ships is a water-mist system, which converts water into a mist state that presents more surface area for smoke and heat to be absorbed. Water-mist systems are very effective and also safe for people who may be near them when they are activated. In areas such as engine spaces and galleys, we have installed both water mist and CO2 systems. In addition, we have gone above and beyond compliance with regulations by installing foam systems in certain technical spaces and wet chemical extinguishers in all of our galleys. These wet chemical extinguishers are similar to ones found in land-based kitchens and are especially effective in the case of a deep fat fryer fire.
Our ships are also equipped with an extensive series of fire sensors, which are monitored by crew members on the bridge and in the engine control rooms. If a fire detector indicates there may be a fire onboard, response personnel are immediately dispatched to the area to evaluate the situation. If indicated, mobile firefighting groups respond, outfitted with full firefighter gear, breathing apparatus and special heat-seeking systems that use thermal-imaging cameras. These cameras (both hand-held and helmet-mounted) help to quickly identify the source of a fire and to locate any people who may be in the affected area. Responding crew also have access to an Impulse Fire Extinguisher (IFEX), which shoots a blast of water using pressurized air and is ideal for rapid response in quickly suppressing a fire. With these tools, our highly trained personnel on the bridge and on the scene can manage fire-related situations effectively.