The Tripologist: How do cruise ships guard against terrorist attacks?

Cruise operators are well aware of the risks and they’re not complacent. The Indian Pacific runs between Sydney and Perth.Photo: Inge Holst Photo: Inge Holst
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Beautiful Budapest.

WITH THOUSANDS OF PEOPLE ENJOYING CRUISES THESE DAYS I’M WONDERING WHAT SECURITY MEASURES CRUISE LINES PUT IN PLACE FOR EMBARKATION AND DISEMBARKATION? IS IT THE SAME AS AIRLINES? ARE THERE GUARDS ON BOARD? HOW DO THEY PROVIDE SECURITY AGAINST PIRATES OR TERRORISTS?

D. HUNTER, NORTH SYDNEY

This is an interesting question and since I’m writing this from Ponant’s Le Soleal​ cruising off the north coast of New Guinea I put it to the ship’s officer in charge of security.

There are specific and rigorous measures in place to ensure the security of the vessel but for obvious reasons these cannot be divulged.

Were I to do that I would become shark food on my next voyage, but what I can tell you is that every cruise ship has a security officer who has undergone a course of instruction, in this case prescribed by the French government as well as by Ponant, the cruise line.

As part of their safety drills, and on Le Soleal these seem to happen every second day, the crew practise countermeasures they would take in the event of a terrorist attack. The wheelhouse is a secure area with closed-circuit cameras to monitor access, in addition to the closed-circuit cameras throughout public areas of the vessel.

Passengers’ luggage is screened before it comes on board and passengers can expect to pass through a metal detector, although when we boarded Le Soleal in Manado this was not operating.

The French government has a three-level alert system that applies to ships sailing under its flag. At the moment we’re on level 1, the lowest. Some cruise vessels carry armed security guards although passengers would not know who they are.

According to Le Soleal’s security officer, in future it will become more common for all cruise ships to do the same. While it has been many years since terrorists directed their attention to cruise ships, operators are well aware of the risks and they’re not complacent.

MY MOTHER, IN HER LATE 80S, AND I ARE TRAVELLING TO PERTH ON THE INDIAN PACIFIC AND WILL STAY IN PERTH FOR A WEEK. AS MY MOTHER CANNOT WALK FAR WITHOUT RESTS, WE ARE WONDERING WHERE WOULD BE THE BEST PLACE TO BOOK A HOTEL AND WHAT TO VISIT?

C. LYONS, SUNSHINE

Rather than sharing a hotel room, an apartment would give you more space and the freedom to prepare your own breakfast and other meals if you felt like it, and your mother might be tired at the end of the day and not feeling like a meal out. The Adina Apartment Hotel (deals.adinaapartmenthotels老域名出售备案老域名) is just a five-minute walk from St Georges Terrace and the heart of the city. Reviews are good, the price is reasonable and there are plenty of dining options close by. Another apartment-style hotel you might consider is the Citadines St Georges Terrace (citadines老域名出售).

Perth Explorer (citysightseeingperth老域名出售) operates a hop-on, hop-off bus and this is a great way to familiarise yourself with the main sights. The tour includes stops at Kings Park, one of the city’s highlights, but there are hills and you might want to limit your exploration of this lovely park.

Perth Explorer also operates  a Triple Tour, a two-day package that includes a cruise on the Swan River and the Fremantle Tram Tour along with the hop-on hop-off bus tour and since you have plenty of time this would be well worthwhile. In Fremantle, the historic jail and the Shipwreck Galleries of the Museum of Western Australia are highlights and don’t miss the Batavia exhibition.

The Perth Mint, the Art Gallery of Western Australia, the WA Museum and watching the sunset over the Indian Ocean from the cafes at Cottesloe Beach are some of the city’s main attractions.

You could take a day trip out to Rottnest Island and if so, there are electric scooters and an electric buggy for hire, but book ahead with the Visit Rottnest Island Authority (rottnestisland老域名出售) .

IN APRIL WE ARE PLANNING TO GO FROM NICE TO BUDAPEST, BRATISLAVA, CESKY KRUMLOV, PRAGUE AND KRAKOW. WHAT’S THE MOST PRACTICAL AND AFFORDABLE WAY TO TRAVEL FROM NICE TO BUDAPEST? IS AIRBNB WELL DEVELOPED IN THESE CITIES OR WOULD WE BE BETTER OFF IN HOTELS?

S. LEVAME, ENMORE

There are no non-stop flights between Nice and Budapest. The best flight I can find on Momondo is with Germanwings, a one-stop, seven-hour flight priced at $131. One-stop flights with Lufthansa and Austrian Airlines slash that to under four hours but the price is five times higher, and train would take a lot longer.

Airbnb is certainly well developed throughout these cities and you should have no problem finding suitable accommodation if that’s what you’re after. Where Airbnb comes into its own is when you’re staying in a place for three nights or more. Making the most of an Airbnb means shopping for supplies in order to prepare at least some of your own meals and this makes better sense on a longer stay. Also, regardless of how long you stay in an Airbnb you’ll pay a cleaning fee and therefore the longer you stay the cheaper the daily tariff becomes. If you’re travelling fast and light, a hotel will often be a better fit for most couples.

CONVERSATION OVER TO YOU… 

The question was “New generation aircraft will soon make it possible to fly non-stop from Perth to London. Flight time around 18 and a half hours, but if the price was right, would you be tempted?”

R. Barlow writes “Regardless of price, I would not be tempted. My wife and I are getting on in years and we find the most enjoyable and comfortable way to travel long distances is to break the trip into chunks with stopovers in interesting locations that provide rest and the ability to “recharge batteries”. We also use frequent flyer points to upgrade to a more comfortable class of travel. From Perth, we would stop over in locations such as Dubai, Hong Kong, Singapore, Kuala Lumpur or Johannesburg before proceeding to London.”

From E. Lee, “That 14-hour Sydney-Dubai flight is bad enough, and it’s the last four hours that seem to grind so slowly. Adding another four-plus hours on top of that would be pushing passengers’ endurance to the limit. I’m guessing it would attract passengers if the price was right but I wouldn’t like to be among them.”

“Not for me,” writes O. Atkinson. “I find long economy class flights gruelling enough as it is, imagine if you were locked in with screaming toddlers the whole way? The current length is about as much as any reasonable human can stand.”

Next question: Iran and Iceland are my picks for hot destinations in 2016. Are you heading for either, or somewhere equally exotic next year?

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