The following information|
The Cruise Ship
Consumer Fact Sheet
The U.S. Coast Guard
Maritime Safety Office
(305) 535-8705 (Miami)
(907) 463-2450 (Juneau)
(787) 729-6800 (San Juan)
Coast Guard regulations and SOLAS, the Safety Of Life At Sea organization,
require that the master of an ocean cruise ship periodically hold fire and
lifeboat drills. They are intended not only to give the crew practice, but also
to show the passengers how to act in the event of an emergency at sea.
Passengers should participate fully in these drills.
- The timing and frequency of the drills depends in large part on the
length of the voyage.
- On voyages that last more than one week, the first drill is held before
the ship gets underway (passengers who embark at the last minute sometimes miss
this drill), with additional drills at least once a week thereafter.
- On voyages of one week or less, drills must be held within 24 hours after
Coast Guard and international regulations also require a notice to be posted
conspicuously in each passenger cabin or stateroom. The notice explains the
- How to recognize the ship's emergency signals (alarm bells and whistle
signals are normally supplemented by announcements made over the ship's public
- The location of life preservers provided for passengers in that stateroom
(special life preservers for children will be provided, if necessary, by the
- Instructions and pictures explaining how to put on the life preserver;
and the lifeboat to which passengers in that stateroom are assigned.
Modern cruise ships carry a variety of survival craft. Passengers are
invariably assigned to lifeboats or similar survival craft. The total capacity
of all the survival craft on board will exceed the total number of persons on
If An Accident Happens
When fire and lifeboat drills are held, crew members from the stewards
department are generally responsible for assisting and directing passengers in
Medical Care and Services Are Not Covered
- Direction signs showing the path to reach lifeboats are posted in
passageways and stairways throughout the ship.
- The crewmember in charge of each lifeboat will muster the passengers
assigned to that lifeboat, and give passengers any final instructions necessary
in the proper method of donning and adjusting their life preservers.
- If there is any portion of the emergency procedures the passenger doesn't
understand, they should question the crew until the instructions are clear and
The Coast Guard does not require that passenger vessels carry a ship's doctor.
Most if not all ocean-going passenger vessels today do provide a doctor and
medical facilities in order to offer attractive and competitive service. If you
are concerned about this aspect of life aboard a cruise ship, contact the
cruise line or travel agent for the particulars of medical services provided,
both at sea and while visiting foreign ports.
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© | Updated November 2000