Security Measures Ensure Smooth Sailing Aboard Cruise Ships

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As an industry, cruises are a major part of global tourism. The Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) estimated roughly 24 million passengers would travel on cruise lines globally in 2016, a number that has steadily increased year by year. Not only have passenger numbers increased, the number of routes and ships have also seen rapid growth. This increase has had a direct impact on the demand for security and safety equipment.

While the actual number of serious incidents onboard cruise vessels each year is low, it is because of the extensive and comprehensive security and safety measures taken that these numbers remain small.

Safety and security, however, starts before passengers even board. Pre-boarding activities such as supply chain monitoring, passenger and crew screening prior to boarding and re-boarding at port of call, and vetting/screening of passenger and crew luggage and shipyard cargo are all part of cruise ship security.

Once onboard, video surveillance is a particularly useful tool — it acts as both a deterrent and way of creating forensic record of any incident. “Video surveillance plays a very active role in cruise ship security, interlinked with access control and identity management,” said Jeff Whitney, VP of Global Marketing at Arecont Vision. “These systems are used to help ensure passenger and crew safety, provide property protection, and provide forensic records of incidents and activities onboard.”

At the same time, passengers do not want to feel like they are being constantly watched, especially since passengers live aboard the ship and are not just visiting. Therefore, it is important for surveillance and access control systems to keep a low profile, particularly in public spaces. Whitney pointed out, however, that overt surveillance systems are still “used as both a deterrent and for coverage of gangways, passenger and cargo loading areas, and secure spaces aboard ship and port facilities.”

Once onboard, video surveillance is a particularly useful tool — it acts as both a deterrent and way of creating forensic record of any incident.

The cruise industry is also becoming increasingly aware of the need for cybersecurity protection for devices installed on the vessels. “With recently publicity around Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks on network infrastructure across the United States and Europe, using IoT (Internet of Things) devices ranging from networked cameras, DVRs, appliances, and even home thermostats to be converted into ‘bots’ to carry out other attacks, cybersecurity is a major concern with critical shipboard systems networked,” Whitney explained.

In fact, in February 2016, BIMCO, along with the CLIA and other member of the maritime community, published guidelines for cybersecurity on ships. According to the guidelines, their aim is “to offer guidance to shipowners and operators on how to assess their operations and put in place the necessary procedures and actions to maintain the security of cyber systems onboard their ships.”

Challenges on the Open Waters 

When it comes to installation of safety and security systems cruise ships’ always-on-the-go status proves to be a real challenge. Even when they are in port, their turnaround times can be extremely short. “This places aggressive time constraints on installation, support, and maintenance of any system, including security systems,” said Eric Olson, VP of Marketing at PureTech Systems. “As such, cruise lines require systems that are quickly installed, are very robust operationally, can be updated very quickly, and require minimal support.”

Since only remote support can be provided at sea or by brief physical visits from shore-based technical support while in port, Whitney highlighted the need for easily maintained security systems. As a result, “Camera systems must be designed to adhere to industry standards, be highly integrated with the leading video management software (VMS) systems, and be demonstrated to be extremely reliable through customer experience,” he said.

Regulating Security Measures 

Regulations regarding security and safety measures onboard cruise vessels can differ. However, certain regulations are used internationally and considered industry standards.

The International Ship and Port Facility Security Code (ISPS) outlines the minimum security arrangements for ships, ports, and government agencies. The ISPS is an amendment to the International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS). The SOLAS Convention is generally regarded as the most important international treaty concerning the safety of merchant ships. Within SOLAS are chapters outlining provisions for fire safety, electrical installation, life-saving appliances, ship security alert system, etc.

More specific to the cruise industry, the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010 was implemented by the U.S. Coast Guard and requires that cruise ship operators meet basic requirements for security, privacy, and reporting of incidents.

The CVSSA also states that a vessel’s video surveillance system must cover all areas of the ship where passengers or crew members have common access. “Cruise companies must adhere to these standards and budget the cost of this technology into their plans, which means integrators and manufacturers must stay up-to-date on the requirements and provide a variety of options for these challenging environments,” added Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President of Americas at Oncam.

The U.S. Coast Guard proposed changes to its passenger vessel regulations under the Cruise Vessel Security and Safety Act (CVSSA) of 2010, which would include a statute requiring any vessel carrying at least 250 passengers to maintain a fall-overboard image capture system, a fall-overboard detection system, or some combination of both, according to Jumbi Edulbehram, Regional President of Americas at Oncam.