Post-9/11, federal agencies stepped up airline security efforts, including getting their hands on increased passenger information to deal with security threats. According to USA Today, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection plans to study similar systems for cruise ships too.

While getting on a plane has become a tortuously slow process thanks to increased security concerns, cruise ship passengers have been spared much of this concern. For the most part, cruise ships have minimal screening procedures. Earlier this year, the Government Accountability Office released a report titled Maritime Security: Varied Actions Taken to Enhance Cruise Ship Security, but Some Concerns Remain. The report recommended that existing screening processes for cruise ship passengers also be enhanced. The Customs and Border Protection agreed with the recommendations, and will now embark on a study that will consider the security benefits from an automated PNR system. The study will also look at the cost of the system.

It’s not as if cruise line operators have been completely blind to the increased terrorist threats since 9/11. Cruise liners voluntarily provide the Department of Homeland Security with a passenger and crew manifest for each vessel that enters or leaves a port in the US.  The GAO report is not meant to be taken as an indication of an imminent or close terrorist threat against cruise liners. However, the Coast Guard believes that there are terrorist groups that definitely have the capabilities to mount an attack on a cruise liner.

Just because there hasn’t been a major terrorist attack on a cruise liner since the hijacking of the Achilles Lauro in 1985, is no reason for complacency. If there’s one thing  9/11 taught us, it is to never underestimate the cunning of our enemies. A major attack on the ocean could be the next thing terrorists use to draw attention to their lunacy, and cruise line operators should encourage any steps federal agencies take to minimize these threats.

The maritime injury attorneys at Schechter, Shaffer & Harris, L.L.P., Accident & Injury Lawyers  represent injured maritime workers, including oil rig and offshore workers, cruise ship crews, commercial fishing vessel crews, and other maritime workers in accidents across Texas and nationwide.

Update 9/18: To read more about cruise security in the U.S., visit: