Gigantic cruise ships often resemble water amusement parks with their multitude of swimming pools, water slides and hot tubs. And yet, with the exception of Disney Cruise Lines, most cruise lines don't employ lifeguards on their ships. That course might be changing. In December 2016, Royal Caribbean Cruises posted a job description for lifeguards to open, close, monitor and operate their ships' aquatic recreational spaces.
According to Cruise Lines International Association, more than 1.5 million children board cruise ships every year, with some cruise ships carrying 1,000 or more each trip. As with hotels and resorts, however, cruise lines aren't required to station lifeguards aboard their ships. Instead, cruise lines employ a swim-at-your-own risk policy, providing life jackets and citing parents with the responsibility of supervising their children.
Like other cruise lines, Royal Caribbean has reported drowning or near-drowning incidents for children and adults alike. At least five passengers—mostly children—have drowned or nearly drowned in the pools on the cruise line's ships. Most recently, an 8-year-old boy died following a June 30, 2016, incident when he was found unresponsive in a pool aboard the Anthem of the Seas.
In September 2013, Disney Cruise Lines became the first major cruise line to station lifeguards onboard their ships. As of January 2016, Royal Caribbean Cruises is the only other major cruise line to advertise for lifeguards.
Written by Cassie Westrate, staff writer for Groups Today.