Did You Know This? Cruise Ships Have Jails

Written by Camilla Jessen

Feb.29 - 2024 12:08 PM CET

Photo: Shutterstock.com
Photo: Shutterstock.com
A woman shared that she nearly ended her vacation in "cruise jail" following a dispute with another passenger.

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Cruise vacations are generally all about relaxation and enjoyment, but for some, they can end behind bars - literally, in the ship's jail, which is called the "brig".

A recent story shared by Theresa Rowley on TikTok reveals how a disagreement almost landed her in this little-known part of the ship.

Rowley recounted her nearly brig-bound experience following a seven-day Carnival cruise, sparked by another passenger's continuous disparaging comments about her mother.

"She talked the entire time, bro," Rowley explained. "She's yelling across the bar. She had tiny little vocal cords too. Sounded like she had a Polly Pocket stuck in her throat." Fortunately, the situation deescalated before it led to violence, which could have seen Rowley confined in the brig.

The Purpose of Cruise Ship Brigs

Brigs on cruise ships serve as a security measure, ensuring the safety of both passengers and crew. While the majority of cruise-goers are respectful, a small percentage can cause significant issues. For instance, in January, two passengers were arrested for smuggling 112 bags of marijuana on a cruise from Miami to the UK.

Emma Le Teace, a cruise ship expert, notes that the existence of brigs is often unknown to passengers since they are not shown during tours and are located in areas restricted to crew members.

"The onboard jails are small and used as a place to hold guests suspected of breaking the law or those who are acting dangerously or recklessly," she stated on her blog, Emma Cruises.

Dealing with Misconduct at Sea

Cruise staff typically handle minor infractions by reprimanding the involved passengers. Those who are overly disruptive or intoxicated may be confined to their cabins under security watch. However, for more severe offenses, the brig is utilized until the passenger can be removed from the ship at the next port and handed over to local authorities, often at the passenger's own expense.

According to a former cruise ship security officer interviewed by Le Teace, assault, murder, threats to other guests, or behavior that poses a danger to oneself are among the reasons someone might be detained in the brig.

Crime Rates on Cruise Ships

Despite these incidents, crimes on cruise ships remain relatively rare.

In 2023, 180 criminal activities were reported to the FBI, which included two suspicious deaths and 22 cases of assault resulting in serious bodily injury, as per the US Department of Transportation data.

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