By the time school is out in June, Royal Caribbean International will have lifeguards ready to watch over kids at every pool on each ship in its fleet, the company announced on Tuesday.
Starting in March, the cruise line will start enforcing a new water safety program that is designed to “raise awareness amongst our guests about the importance of vigilance while enjoying water features on our ships," it said in a statement.
The program includes installing lifeguards, trained by StarGuard Elite, at all pools during opening hours and suggesting that children from four to twelve years-old wear swim vests. Children and teens in Royal’s Adventure Ocean programs will be given a water safety presentation to educate them early in the cruise, as well.
Royal Caribbean is second only to Disney Cruise Line, which began requiring its ships to have lifeguards in 2013, six months after a four-year-old boy nearly drowned on Disney Fantasy.
Royal Caribbean wouldn’t say that the program was installed because of one incident in particular, but there has been a string of recent drownings on cruise ships that have caused concern for parents worried about their children’s safety on pool decks.
In December 2015, an eight-year-old boy from Texas drowned in a swimming pool in the H2O Zone Waterpark on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas. The child’s parents filed a wrongful death suit claiming the ship was sailing in “rough weather and high seas causing the boat to rock and pool water to splash out of the pools,” that the pools should have been closed, and that it took the ship’s doctor more than five minutes to reach the child after he was pulled from the water. In July 2016, another eight-year-old boy from Maryland was pulled unconscious from the adult swimming pool on Anthem of the Seas; he died days later.
Drownings have also occurred on Norwegian Cruise Line, Princess Cruises and Carnival Cruise Line. No lifeguards are on duty on any of those lines.