Do cruise ships have jails? And what is a brig, anyway? - The Points Guy (2024)


May 15, 2022

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Do cruise ships have jails? And what is a brig, anyway? - The Points Guy (2)

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What do you do with a drunken sailor? Throw him in the brig until he's sober!

Now that I've got that 19th-century sea shanty stuck in your head, you might be wondering if modern-day cruise ships still have jails for unruly or non-rule-following passengers. I bet you also want to know what might land you in hot water while you're on the water — and whether being drunk will do it.

Listen up, so you can plan to leave your oh-so-stylish striped jumpsuit at home on your next cruise vacation.

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Are there jails on cruise ships?

Yes, cruise ships have brigs, which is the nautical term for a jail on a vessel, including a cruise ship. The term comes from the word "brigantine," which is a type of two-masted sailing ship formerly used to house criminals.

Because cruise ships are like small towns (or, in the case of some of the largest vessels afloat, small cities), you'll find all types of people on board — including a few folks who don't know how to behave while on vacation. And while ships focus on the fun with bars, restaurants, theaters, spas and water parks, they also need to keep the experience safe for their passengers. Cue the brig.

However, what most cruise ships lack are actual police officers. Instead, cruise lines employ a security team for each vessel, but the team's level of authority can vary. Think less John McClane from "Die Hard" and more Paul Blart from "Mall Cop."

What is a cruise ship brig like?

Do cruise ships have jails? And what is a brig, anyway? - The Points Guy (3)

Cruisers who break the rules could find themselves in the actual brig, but it's also possible that a passenger could be ordered to stay in his or her cabin with a member of the ship's security team stationed outside the door.

If it's determined that a guest must be moved to brig confinement, the person will be escorted to a bare-bones cabin — usually on a lower deck and likely with no windows — where there will be a simple mattress with bedding along with bathroom facilities. (Don't worry: They aren't cells in the typical sense. There aren't any sliding doors with bars.)

Do cruise ships have jails? And what is a brig, anyway? - The Points Guy (4)

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The door locks from the outside, meaning that passengers cannot let themselves out. Because of that, meals will be brought to them while they're serving their time.

What will land a cruiser in the brig?

If you break your cruise line's code of conduct — which is outlined in the cruise contract every passenger agrees to before they sail — you could find yourself behind proverbial bars during your voyage if the captain or a member of the ship's security team determines you're in violation.

Some slammer-worthy infractions include (but are not limited to) violence against crew members or other passengers, refusing to follow cruise ship safety rules, stealing from onboard shops and possession of drugs or other illegal items. Just being drunk isn't enough to get you thrown in the brig, though over-indulging could cause you to act irresponsibly and break rules that would cause the ship's security team to come and take you away.

When is a passenger released from jail on a cruise?

Generally, a passenger will stay locked up until he or she can be disembarked and turned over to authorities in a port of call. That could be at the vessel's next stop or it could be at the conclusion of the sailing, depending on the circ*mstances.

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Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

Do cruise ships have jails? And what is a brig, anyway? - The Points Guy (2024)


Do cruise ships have jails on them? ›

There are no police officers on cruise ships, but most vessels have small jails known as the brig, and unruly passengers could find themselves locked up if the ship's security team determines that they have violated the cruise line's code of conduct.

Why do cruise ships have brigs? ›

Cruise lawyer Spencer Aronfeld said cruise jails or “the brig” was absolutely a feature on passenger ships. As his clients can testify, these are for use to restrain unruly travellers at sea - passengers or crew - before they can be handed over to the relevant authorities.

Do ships have a brig? ›

It is not something you would normally think about, but, yup, on a ship like the USS Nimitz (CVN 68) with a crew of 6,000, essentially a floating small town, there is a brig. What is a brig?

Is there a lot of crime on cruise ships? ›

“Cruise ships are one of the safest vacation options in the world, with rates of serious crimes that are exceedingly lower than those on land due to multiple layers of security and the nature of cruising,” she told USA TODAY in an emailed statement.

What is the most common crimes on cruise ships? ›

79% of all crimes reported onboard cruise ships are sexual assaults, as per the US Department of Transportation. This statistic is a stark reminder of the prevalence of sexual assaults on cruise ships, and serves as a powerful reminder of the need for increased safety measures to protect passengers.

Are there cops on cruise ships? ›

Cruise lines don't have police onboard. Instead, they have security teams they employ. The captain has the ultimate authority in decision-making on the ship regarding what should happen to those suspected of criminal activity.

Do cruises have morgues? ›

One intriguing aspect is the presence of morgues on cruise ships. Yes, you read that correctly – cruise ships do indeed have morgues, and the reasons behind this morbid necessity might surprise you.

Do cruise ships have a master at arms? ›

Yes many cruise ships do, especially ones that sail in waters where modern day pirates operate or are suspected to be. Some have powerful water cannons that can be aimed over the side of the ship to repel any boarders.

Is a brig a jail? ›

A brig is a prison, especially a naval or military prison. This meaning comes from the fact that two-masted warships known as brigs were historically used as floating prisons. The word brig is a shortened form of brigantine, "a small, two-masted ship" with large, square sails.

What is the riskiest part of a cruise ship? ›

The 5 Most Dangerous Parts of a Ship for Passengers
  • Watertight Doors. Never try to outrun a closing watertight door. ...
  • Wet/Slippery Surfaces. ...
  • Ferries & Lifeboats. ...
  • Dining Facilities & Fast-Spreading Illnesses. ...
  • Balconies. ...
  • Talking to a Florida Cruise Ship Injury Attorney.
Feb 28, 2018

What is the safest place on a cruise ship? ›

In addition to picking a midship stateroom, which are usually spread out across several levels, it's also a good idea to opt for one that's below the water level. This is because this part of the ship, its lowest and most central area, is the most stable during rough sea conditions.

What is the risk in the cruise ship? ›

While taking a cruise is a life-long dream for many people, the risk of serious injury or illness is always present. Anything from food poisoning to a slip and fall can ruin a vacation and have lasting health consequences. Serious injuries are unfortunately common on cruise ships.

What happens when you go jail on a cruise ship? ›

The aim of a cruise ship jail is to hold a passenger for a short period of time until the threat subsides or until the cruise ship arrives at the next port, where they will hand over the passenger to law enforcement authorities if required.

What does a jail look like on a cruise ship? ›

The brigs themselves are very basic. Most are a simple room with a bed in one corner and little else. They have a similar design to modern jail cells. Many people imagine cruise ship jails to have iron bars and be similar to that which you'd find on a ship hundreds of years ago, fortunately, this is no longer the case.

What happens if you get in trouble on a cruise ship? ›

It may involve house arrest in the offender's cabin with posted guards or actual incarceration in a specific cell. Larger ships are likely to have a padded or otherwise safe lockup room called a "brig."

What happens if someone dies on a cruise? ›

The cruise line deploys dedicated care teams to provide emotional and logistical support to those affected, helping them navigate through the difficult time. The body of the deceased is respectfully stored in an onboard morgue until the ship reaches a port where further arrangements can be made.

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