Do Cruise Ships Have Jails? (& What Happens If You Break The Law On-Board)

Are cruise ships a completely lawless place?! Or do they have jails and a security team on board?

Well, obviously they aren’t lawless! But what happens if someone does break the law on a cruise? or perhaps get’s a little too drunk and disorderly?

We looked into it and this is what we found…

Do Cruise Ships Have Jails?

Mans hands on jail cell - Featured In: Do Cruise Ships Have Jails?

Cruise ships do have jails onboard, which are called brigs. These jails are in ‘crew only’ areas of the ship, so passengers never see them.

Cruise ships have a jail or holding cell on board for security purposes and to ensure the safety of passengers and crew.

If a passenger or crew member commits a crime or acts in a way that threatens the safety and well-being of others on board, they will be detained in the ship’s jail until the ship reaches the next port of call.

The ship’s security team or off-duty law enforcement officers on board will oversee the detention process.

The jails found on cruise ships are typically small and basic, equipped with minimal facilities. They are not designed for long-term stays and are used only in rare cases.

The severity of the offense, the safety of others on board, and the laws of the country in which the ship is sailing will determine what happens to the offender after they leave the jail on board.

In most instances, the offender will be handed over to local authorities once the ship reaches the next port of call.

While the idea of a jail on a cruise ship may seem unusual or unsettling, it is a completely necessary precaution that cruise lines take to ensure the safety and security of everyone on board.

Where Are The Brigs On A Cruise Ship?

The brigs, also known as the ship’s jail, are located in the lower deck of a cruise ship and are usually located near the ship’s security office.

These holding cells are reserved for passengers who have broken the ship’s rules or have behaved in a manner that poses a danger to themselves, other passengers, or the crew.

Brigs serve primarily as a deterrent and holding cell rather than a punishment.

Cruise lines’ security staff is trained to respond to any kind of emergency or breach of security, and the brig helps prevent any potential threats from escalating while at sea.

Not all cruise ships have brigs, as some rely on isolation rooms or modified cabins instead.

However, with the increasing number of travelers each year, several cruise lines have opted to have designated jail cells in case of any emergency or behavioral issues onboard.

Why Are Cruise Ship Jails Called Brigs?

The term ‘brigs’ originates from the navy, where a brig was a small prison on board a ship, used to hold unruly sailors until they could be disciplined or court-martialed.

Over time, the term has been adopted by the cruise industry, where brigs are used to detain passengers who violate ship rules or laws while at sea.

Violations can range from drug use, theft, and assault, to more minor offenses like unruly behavior and failure to pay bills.

Cruise ship brigs are typically small windowless rooms, located in the lower deck of the ship, and are equipped with basic amenities like a bed, toilet, and sink.

The detained passengers are not kept in the brig for extended periods and are typically released at the next port of call where they will be met by local authorities.

Cruise ship companies have policies for detaining rule-breaking passengers, and their jail systems are used to ensure the safety and security of other passengers and employees onboard.

What Crimes Happen Most Frequently At Sea?

Front of Cruise

While crimes at sea may not be as prevalent as those that occur on land, certain offenses are more likely to happen in a maritime environment.

Here are the most common crimes that happen frequently at sea:

  • Theft: Petty theft is a common offense that occurs on a cruise ship.
  • Sexual Assault: Sexual assault is unfortunately the most reported crime on cruises.
  • Drug Smuggling: Drug smuggling is frequent on cargo ships.
  • Disappearances: Disappearances of passengers at sea are a particularly worrying and unexplainable phenomenon (don’t worry! They aren’t that common with 400 disappearances in the last 20 years)

However, cruise lines have developed methods to deal with these crimes, including setting up their jails onboard.

Despite the existence of risks, cruises are still regarded as very safe, and instances of serious crimes are uncommon.

What Does A Cruise Ship Jail Look Like?

A cruise ship jail is typically a small, confined space with basic amenities, such as a bed, toilet, sink, and shower.

The size and capacity of the jail can vary depending on the cruise ship’s size and occupancy. Some cruise ship brigs are nothing more than a locked room or a cell, while larger ships may have a designated detention area for more serious offenses.

They’re nothing fancy as they serve as simply a holding cell until the ship reaches port. Most offenders won’t spend more than 48 hours inside the brig.

What Security Measures Are in Place On Cruise Ships?

Cruise ships have stringent security measures in place to ensure the safety and well-being of their passengers and crew.

Some of these security measures include:

1. Surveillance cameras: Cruise ships are equipped with state-of-the-art surveillance systems that monitor all areas of the ship 24/7.

2. Security personnel: Trained security personnel are present on every cruise ship to monitor the ship’s activities and respond to any security threats.

3. Security personnel: Cruise ships use access control systems to limit the number of people who can access certain areas of the ship.

4. Emergency procedures: Cruise ships have emergency procedures in place to deal with situations such as fires, medical emergencies, and security threats.

However, a ship security officer will only use a brig as a last resort. Unless the passenger is a security threat or has committed a serious crime, the likelihood of being thrown in a cruise ship brig is highly unlikely.

Why Would Someone Be Placed In The Brig?

There are a couple of reasons someone may be placed in the brig, but these vary from country-to-country and cruise-to-cruise.

What is perfectly fine in Carnival Cruise Line may land you in the jail or detention area of Royal Caribbean.

However, here are some reasons you may find yourself in a bri regardless of the cruise line you’re on:

  • Smoking in non-smoking areas or staterooms
  • Consuming drugs or alcohol illicitly
  • Sexual misconduct or harassment
  • Failing to comply with safety regulations or emergency drills
  • Intentionally damaging the ship’s property
  • Fighting or engaging in other violent behavior

The consequences of being placed in the brig can range from minor fines to incarceration, depending on the severity of the offense.

It is important and highly recommended to always carefully read and follow the guidelines and rules of the cruise ship before embarking on your journey.

What Do Guest Security Supervisors Do On Cruise Ships?

Ship security officer pointing at CCTV screen

Guest security supervisors on cruise ships are responsible for ensuring the safety and security of both passengers and crew.

Their job is to prevent and handle any security incidents that may occur onboard the ship.

In addition to round-the-clock monitoring of the ship’s premises, guest security supervisors perform the following duties:

  • Conduct safety drills and briefings for passengers and crew
  • Respond to medical emergencies and coordinate with the ship’s medical team
  • Investigate any reported incidents of theft, assault, or harassment
  • Monitor CCTV footage and coordinate with other security personnel for a quick response to any emergency situation
  • Inspect luggage and perform security checks during embarkation and disembarkation

Their job is to implement and enforce the ships security protocols so guest and the ship’s crew alike are all safe.

Is Crime High On Cruise Ships?

While isolated incidents of crime do occur on cruise ships, statistics show that the overall crime rate on board is relatively low.

According to a report by the Cruise Line International Association, the probability of experiencing a crime on a cruise ship is 0.01%, which is lower than in many large cities on land.

Cruise ships employ extensive security measures and protocols to prevent crime on board.

That being said, it is still important for passengers to take proper safety precautions while on board, such as locking their cabin doors and keeping an eye on their belongings.

Some common types of crimes on cruise ships include petty theft, assault, and sexual harassment.

Do Cruise Ships Have Security Onboard?

Security jacket

Yes, cruise ships have security on board at all times. They ensure the safety of their passengers and crew members.

A dedicated team of trained security personnel is employed onboard to handle any security issues that may arise. The security personnel works closely with other crew members, such as the captain, staff captain, and guest services team, to monitor the ship’s security 24/7.

Other security measures taken by cruise ships include:

  • Screening passengers and their luggage before boarding the ship
  • Installing surveillance cameras throughout the ship to monitor passenger activity
  • Conducting regular safety drills to prepare passengers for emergencies such as fires or shipwrecks
  • Providing security escorts for passengers who feel unsafe while onboard

Overall, cruise ships take security very seriously and employ measures to ensure the safety and well-being of everyone onboard.

Passenger safety is of very high concern and security takes everything from an unruly passenger to sever crimes very seriously.

Does Cruise Ship Security Carry Guns?

Cruise ship personnel and security do not carry guns and it is highly unlikely you’ll ever see one onboard a ship.

There are rumors of a hidden cache of weapons in case of emergencies, such as a terrorist attack on board, but none of these have been confirmed and are likely false.

That does not mean that you are less safe on a cruise, as security has a variety of safety measures to make sure everyone on board is safe.

From the metal detectors to the CCTV screens, passenger safety is taken very seriously in international waters.

What Is The Responsibility of A Cruise Ship Security Guard?

The responsibility of a cruise ship security guard is to ensure the safety and security of passengers, crew members, and the ship itself while at sea.

They work in a high-pressure environment and are expected to maintain strict protocols and procedures onboard.

The main duties of a cruise ship security guard include:

  1. Monitoring and Preventing Criminal Activities: Cruise ship security guards are responsible for preventing and addressing criminal activities like theft, assault, and smuggling onboard. They must work closely with other departments to identify potential security threats and prevent any issues from escalating.
  2. Conducting Regular Inspections: Security guards are responsible for conducting regular inspections of the ship to identify any security risks. This includes checking all areas of the ship, including cabins, entertainment venues, duty-free shops, and other public areas.
  3. Implementing Safety Drills: Security guards conduct regular safety drills, including fire and emergency procedures, to ensure that all passengers and crew members are prepared in the event of an emergency.
  4. Assisting Passengers and Crew Members: Security guards are also responsible for assisting passengers and crew members with any and all security-related issues. This includes escorting passengers to their cabins if they feel unsafe, handling lost and found items, and responding to medical emergencies.

Do Cruise Ships Have Security Cameras?

Yes, cruise ships absolutely have security cameras in various locations throughout the ship for safety and security purposes. The presence of security cameras helps prevent theft, crime, and other suspicious activities onboard.

Cruise ship officials install security cameras in public areas, hallways, elevators, lobbies, and other locations where passengers and crew usually frequent. The cameras are often monitored round the clock by a dedicated security team.

In case of any suspicious activity, the staff can immediately respond, investigate, and take action as needed to ensure the safety of everyone onboard.

The presence of security cameras also helps investigate criminal activities, accidents, or incidents that might occur on the ship. This detailed footage can provide evidence and help in identifying the perpetrator and resolving the issue quickly..

Do Murders Happen On Cruise Ships?

Crime scene tape

Cruise ship murders are incredibly rare, but they do happen.

Most cruise ship murders that have occurred were perpetrated by someone the victim knew. There is normally a long history of abuse and an argument that escalates onboard.

The rare murders that occur on a cruise line are rarely ever pre-meditated. They tend to happen in the spur of the moment due to rage or intoxication.

Since guns are not allowed on board, most murders on a cruise ships involve stabbings or someone being pushed overboard.

Again, we’d like to reiterate that a serious crime is highly unlikely onboard modern cruise ships.

Summary: Do Cruise Ships Have Jails

Cruise lines take the safety and well-being of both their crew members and passengers very seriously.

If anyone commits any sort of crime, they will be placed in the onboard jail, called a brig, until the ship docks at the next port. Cruise ship jails are mostly holding facilities until the local authorities on land can decide the next steps.

On top of the modern jail cells on board cruises, ships have numerous safety protocols to ensure the well-being of passengers and crew on board.

You can rest assured your next cruise vacation is very safe and the chances of any small or serious crime being committed are highly unlikely.

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