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  • Cruise Secrets: This code word means something BAD has happened


    Cruises bring hundreds of people together on one boat. They can holiday on the vessel for weeks at a time and enjoy a huge variety of activities on board. However, if something goes wrong, there’s a certain codeword cruise crew will use.

    Cruises are a popular holiday choice for many Britons. Passengers can relax on board knowing they are being completely looked after by crew. However, it isn't always smooth sailing and things do still go wrong. But in order to avoid alarming guests, the crew will often use a series of codewords in the case of emergencies. They will mean nothing to any passengers overhearing them but to their colleagues, it will signify an important message. 

    If someone on the cruise ship is injured crew may use the codeword “Sierra”, which means “call for a stretcher.” By using this seemingly innocuous word crew can work with their colleagues without worrying passengers.

    However, if the worst happens on board and someone dies on a cruise ship, the announcement “Operation Bright Star” is made, which alerts the crew to the death of a passenger. The body is then zipped up in a body bag and put in the ship’s morgue. There is usually space for three or four bodies on board. Tina Molson, 52, from Cleethorpes, who worked in an onboard duty-free shop from 2002 to 2010, has explained that deaths aren’t that rare. 

    “Many of the older passengers go on cruise ships for months because it's cheaper for them than living at home. Some even go to sea to die,” Tina told The Sun. “There was often a death on board. On one ship we had a shop store room next to the freezer room where the bodies were stored. We called it the 'coffin locker.’” One cruise line told the Telegraph that bodies are offloaded as soon as possible via an exit away from the passenger gangway.

    Next, a death certificate will be issued and the body repatriated. Costs are the responsibility of the deceased person’s family but should be covered by travel insurance. Alternatively, the body can remain on board and return home on the ship - enabling the partner of the deceased to continue with the trip.

    Most deaths are a result of age-related illnesses - the average age of a British cruise passenger was 56 in both 2017 and 2016, according to industry figures.

    The codewords don’t stop there, however. The codeword “Red Parties” means there is a possible fire on board the ship.  This message will be followed by the details of where on the vessel the fire is to alert other crew.

    The code word “Charlie, Charlie, Charlie,” means a security threat is underway.

    Fortunately, staff are well-trained to deal with such emergencies on board. A spokeswoman from the Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) told Express.co.uk: “The International Convention for the Safety of Life at Sea (SOLAS) requires all ships, including cruise ships, to carry out emergency training and drills, and requires every crew member with assigned emergency duties to be familiar with these duties before the voyage begins.

    “The captain and crew receive specialised training and demonstrate internationally mandated levels of competency. These are professional mariners who take passenger safety very seriously.”

    “Crewmembers participate in emergency drills such as fire, abandon ship and damage response on a recurring basis, and crewmembers with operational responsibilities receive even more continuous training.”

    Code words are only ever used between crew, however, so passengers don't need to worry about knowing precise terms. "There are no SOLAS requirements regarding the use of 'codewords” during an emergency, the CLIA said.

    "Companies may have established internal procedures for crewmembers that covers different types of shipboard emergencies.  The captain and crew will communicate with passengers in plain language."  

    By Harriet Mallinson, Express.co.uk
    Re-posted on CruiseCrazies.com - Cruise News, Articles, Forums, Packing List, Ship Tracker, and more
    For more cruise news and articles go to https://www.cruisecrazies.com



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    Interesting behind-the-scenes story. Somehow, I don’t think I’d want to remain on board and finish the cruise if my loved one’s lifeless body was stored on ice for the remainder of the trip. I’d want both of us off and headed home at the earliest possible second.

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    I think for me it would depend on how long is left and what ports are coming up that will accept an offloaded body; not all of them will.   If the cruise only had a couple of days left and it was heading back to the US, it would probably be quicker, easier and less costly to do that rather than try to make arrangements from an obscure port.  We had a woman die on our 15-day Panama Canal crossing and  her and her family were taken off in Guatamala... 

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    1 hour ago, Jan115 said:

    Excellent points, Andi - I wasn’t thinking about the cost and logistics. Whatever way it works out must be an emotional nightmare for the poor family.

    I certainly agree with you there!

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