Exploring the Security Measures on Cruise Ships: Unveiling the Mystery Behind Onboard Jails

Jail on cruise ship: “Are there jails on cruise ships?” is an oddly frequent inquiry that we at Cruise Nonstop get. Of course, the answer is in the affirmative; cruise ships do indeed contain jails, or “brigs.”

Although cruise ships are frequently viewed as floating paradises, mishaps can occur and crew or passengers misbehave to the point where they need to be locked away for the protection and/or safety of other visitors.

We shall explore the realm of cruise ship security in this post, covering everything from the brig—the ship’s jail—to the function of the cruise ship security officer. You’ll learn whether jails are actually present on cruise ships and how effectively they handle maritime security risks.

Why do cruise ships have jails?

Yes, there are “brigs,” or makeshift jails, onboard cruise ships.

Passengers or staff who may have committed a crime or who represent a major risk to themselves or other passengers on board are detained in cruise ship jails. Usually located in the crew portion of the ship, the brig is a safe, locked space where people can be detained until the ship arrives at a port where formal law enforcement procedures are conducted.

Cruise lines do have jails on board, but they are not meant to house inmates for extended periods. Cruise lines don’t go to jail until it is necessary.

The captain often decides whether to jail or disembark a passenger.

While many older cruise ships lack jails, many modern ones do.

When the cruise ship jail is not able to be used, the offender is detained under cabin arrest, with a security officer stationed outside the entrance.

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What is a Brig on a cruise ship?

Jail on cruises
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In nautical parlance, a ship’s jail or confinement facility is referred to as a “brig.” This space, which is often located next to the lower deck of a modern cruise ship, is intended to house people temporarily until the ship docks.

The cruise ship brig places a greater emphasis on security and safety than it does on incarceration. Usually, they are little rooms that are adequately safe to serve as makeshift jails.

How Often Are Prisons on Cruise Ships?

It happens a lot. Although almost all cruise ships have brigs, it is uncommon for passengers to be placed in one.

Because the brig is tucked away and out of sight, most cruisers may never pass past it or even know it exists during their cruise vacation—a feature that cruise lines prefer not to highlight.

What is the function of a ship security officer during a cruise?

The security of the ship and its occupants is the responsibility of the ship security officer and the cruise ship security crew. From verifying cruise cards upon ship admission to keeping an eye on the CCTV cameras within, they are in charge of security protocols. Additionally, it is up to them to determine whether someone should be placed under cabin arrest or in the brig.

Since jail is mostly used as a last resort, someone must have committed a significant offense to be placed in one. Sexual assault, physical attacks on staff members or other visitors, or any other major offense could fall under this category. The brig will be used pretty much anytime there is a risk to the safety of the crew or passengers.

Less serious problems, such as inappropriate behavior, extreme public intoxication, unruly passengers, drug possession, or any other small infraction, are typically handled by confining the visitor or crew member to their cabin.

After then, depending on whether there is a clear jurisdiction under maritime law, they will typically be reported to police officers or law enforcement agencies at the next port of call and may even be taken off the ship.

Whether the ship was in port or in international seas at the time of the offense will determine which jurisdiction applies. The guest or crew member would then have to pay for their own transportation home after being expelled from the ship.

Is the Jail on Cruise Ships Similar to a Regular Jail?

Not precisely. In reality, the cruise ship brig is frequently only a specially reserved, secure stateroom with sparse furnishings. Usually, a security guard is stationed outside to make sure the person inside cannot leave. Keeping everyone safe on board until a solution can be found—typically at the next port of call—is more important than exacting punishment.

What Safety Procedures Are Followed When Cruising?

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Cruise ship security is extremely sophisticated. Numerous CCTV and security cameras are positioned strategically throughout ships.

Additionally, a security staff made up of guest security supervisors and security guards is on duty. Ensuring the safety of the ship is of utmost importance, and the security protocols implemented aim to safeguard all individuals within.

Probably the most places on cruise ships where you’ll find security cameras are the casinos. Someone will always attempt to cheat the cruise line by breaking the regulations of the casino or the ship.

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Why Would a Guest Be Put in a Cruise Ship Jail?

There are various reasons why passengers could end up in the brig or jail aboard a cruise ship. The captain of the cruise ship and the security personnel decide whether to hold a passenger.

When travelers are taken to the ship’s jail, it means they have broken one or more of the laws or regulations that apply on board.

The following typical situations could result in a passenger being held:

  • Fighting: Assaulting, or exhibiting any other violent behavior toward other passengers or crew members is considered violent behavior.
  • Theft or Vandalism: Taking something of value from other travelers, staff, the cruise company, or purposefully causing harm to the ship’s assets.
  • Drug Use and Possession: It is strictly forbidden to use or possess illegal drugs on cruise ships. You cannot use marijuana on a cruise ship, even though it has been made legal everywhere.
  • Excessive Intoxication: Although drinking alcohol is permitted on cruise ships, guests who are severely inebriated and cause disturbances or endanger others may be taken into custody.
  • Non-Compliance with Safety Protocols: Ignoring safety precautions or acting in a way that puts the security of the ship and its passengers at jeopardy.
  • Sexual assault or harassment: Sexual misconduct of any kind is handled very seriously and is subject to instant detention.
  • Severe Rule Breaking: Consistent or flagrant disregard for the cruise line’s policies and procedures.
    Threatening behavior is any action or statement that is seen as endangering the security of the ship and its occupants.
  • Smuggling Prohibited Items: Trying to sneak prohibited goods onto a ship, including illicit drugs or specific weaponry.

Cruise liners provide a list of prohibited items to bring on cruise ships. The security staff has the right to put you in jail if they find out that you are carrying illegal goods into the ship.

A passenger is typically placed in the brig by decision made by the ship’s captain or senior security staff. It is not a choice that is made lightly to detain a passenger or member of the crew.

To keep everyone safe and in order until the ship gets to a port where local authorities can take charge, if needed, people are held. International maritime law, the flag state of the ship’s registration, and the cruise line’s regulations all dictate how these situations should be handled.

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Which Offenses Occur Most Frequently at Sea?

Minor incidents of public intoxication, which hardly ever result in criminal prosecution, account for the majority of security concerns on cruise liners.

Cruise lines train all staff members how to handle situations, prevent them from getting worse, and lessen their impact on other passengers.

Of course, more serious crimes can result from unrestricted alcohol consumption and the ensuing intoxication.

Who Looks into Crime on Cruise Ships?

security on cruise ships
(Credit: Cruise Hive)

Depending on the victim’s and offender’s nationalities, the ship’s flag state, and the location of the vessel at the time of the incident, a complicated combination of jurisdictions and authorities are involved in the investigation of crimes on cruise ships.

Most of the time, security staff aboard cruise ships serve as first responders. The security staff is in charge of handling and reacting to criminal activity. The main responsibility of cruise ship security is to maintain every passenger’s safety until they can turn over critical cases to law enforcement.

The security team may protect crime scenes, speak with witnesses, and gather evidence.

The nation where a cruise ship is registered, known as its flag state, has jurisdiction over crimes committed in international waters. For instance, offenses committed in international waters would be subject to Bahamas law if the ship was registered there.

Nonetheless, flag nations frequently differ in their ability or readiness to look into offenses aboard cruise ships. Crimes are frequently reported to the FBI or the port state authorities in the area.

It is a matter of jurisdiction to complicate security on cruise ships. If the ship is at a port at the time of the occurrence, local authorities are clearly within their jurisdiction. If the ship is in a nation’s territorial seas, the same applies.

Assume the ship is in the territorial seas of a nation (generally, this means it is within 12 nautical miles of the coast). The nation’s authorities (port state) may then assert jurisdiction and launch an investigation.

Both the victim’s and the accused person’s home countries may decide to look into the matter. Certain nations, such as the United States, claim jurisdiction over crimes committed by its citizens, regardless of whether the act took place in international seas or aboard a vessel flying a foreign flag.

The FBI and U.S. Coast Guard may become engaged in ship incidents involving citizens of the United States when they occur, especially in cases of serious crimes like killing or major larceny.

The FBI always tries to look into cases where a citizen of the United States commits a crime on a cruise ship or is the victim of a serious crime. The FBI uses its extensive global network to ensure the safety of all passengers on board as well as to secure and preserve the crime scene to conduct additional investigation when significant crimes are suspected or verified.

A cruise ship’s staff must coordinate with many national and international agencies during a complex investigation into a crime.

When the ship arrives at its next port of call, the inquiry is frequently turned over to the local authorities. The process of reaching a legal resolution in crimes involving cruise ships can occasionally be made more difficult by jurisdictional issues and differing legal frameworks.

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