Norwegian Cruise Line has announced that it will employ certified lifeguards at all family pools across their fleet, making it the third major cruise line to do so.
The first responders will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin service this summer on the line's four largest ships - Norwegian Escape, Norwegian Getaway, Norwegian Breakaway and Norwegian Epic - and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018.
"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015, and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet,” said Andy Stuart, president and chief executive officer of Norwegian Cruise Line. “While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet."
In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships.
Norwegian has had two incidents in recent years, reports the Miami Herald. In 2015, a 10-year-old girl drowned on Norwegian Gem and in 2014, two children were found in a pool on the Norwegian Breakaway. A four-year-old boy died, and his six-year-old brother was taken to hospital in critical condition.
Earlier this year Royal Caribbean International decided to start posting lifeguards at every pool. The change began in February with Oasis of the Seas, and all remaining ships are expected to have lifeguards by June. The cruise line is partnering with IAM StarGuard Elite for licensed lifeguards and risk-prevention services.
Disney Cruise Line has already been posting lifeguards after 2013 incident when a four-year-old nearly drowned in a pool on Disney Fantasy.
Recent incidents across the industry have sparked debate about the need for lifeguards. For example, last year, U.K. Marine Accident Investigation Branch (MAIB), Chief Inspector of Marine Accidents, Steve Clinch, cited a case where a passenger drowned in the pool of a cruise vessel. There was no lifeguard poolside, and no attempt had been made by the ship’s operator to assess the risk to its passengers when using the pool.
“The MAIB has recently investigated a number of similar accidents which have occurred on cruise vessels. In every case, the ships’ operators have rejected suggestions that lifeguards be stationed poolside citing that the provision of additional warning signage about the potential risks of drowning is a proportionate response. The mix of holiday makers, swimming pools, food and alcohol provides an obvious pre-cursor for an accident, while the logistics and cost of providing a lifeguard to sit poolside on a cruise liner seem trivial compared to the benefits of preventing someone from drowning.”