For decades, many of the major cruise companies refused to station lifeguards at onboard swimming pools. Royal Caribbean, Disney, and Carnival all saw fit to allow infants, toddlers, and children to use the companies’ swimming facilities without helping to ensure their safety by staffing the pool areas with safety personnel. Royal Caribbean and Disney both eventually changed their no-lifeguards policies after children were injured and killed in drownings and near-drownings aboard the companies’ ships. But despite children suffering a similar fate aboard Carnival cruise ships, Carnival has refused to change its no-lifeguard policy.
6-year-old boy drowned aboard Carnival cruise ship in 2013
On Carnival’s website, Carnival indirectly addresses the company’s lack of lifeguards. On this page of Carnival’s website, the company partially answers the question “Do you provide a formal lifeguard program?” Instead of directly stating that the company does not employ lifeguards, the company instead touts that it “continue[s] to make significant investments in training our employees through highly respected water safety training organizations on water safety, CPR and first aid as well as being prepared to initiate proactive intervention if necessary.”
It seems that the implication here is in the case that should a crew member happen to see a passenger in the pool and in need of assistance, the crew member should be able to help. Even if that is the case, crew members who have job functions that do not involve being vigilant around pools area should not be tasked with both carrying out their normal job functions and simultaneously serving as lifeguards as well.
This brings up the question - why do cruise lines resist placing lifeguards at onboard swimming pools? The most obvious answer is that the companies have made a business decision that it would be better for business not to have lifeguards on its ships. For years we have warned the public that many cruise companies put profits over passengers, and this decision by Carnival is one of the most glaring examples of the fact.