March 20, 2003
Since the U.S. attack on Iraq, the Department of Homeland Security has raised its color coded threat levels from "elevated" (yellow) to "high" (orange). The change in status reflects awareness that the U.S. could face retaliation for its military activities. As a reminder, an orange level means there is a "high risk of terrorist attacks." Orange is the second highest level; only red is more severe. For cruise passengers, this code orange, like the last one (in early February), won't spur major changes. "With respect to security threat levels," says Michael Crye, President of the International Council of Cruise Lines, which monitors security concerns on an industry-wide basis, "we have been operating, since September 11, 2001, on the highest precautionary level, so you shouldn't see any significant change in cruising, whether getting onboard or being onboard." Adds Crye, "you might have a few more delays in getting to the ship via airplane as well as the seaport so give yourself as much flexibility in scheduling as possible, more time getting to the airport, getting to the ship, and be patient." In an interview with MSNBC, Miami Police Chief John Timoney did say to expect even more security around cruise ships. He was also quoted as saying that this orange was different from last month's orange. "It's almost like "orange plus," orange and a high a state of alert as far as what you see," Timoney said. "But mentally, there is a clear understanding 'Hey, you know this is the real thing now.'" Need more nitty-gritty info about travel policies for cruises? Check out ICCL's web site, which (www.iccl.org) has a just-updated and incredibly detailed list of restrictions and advice.