Most passengers are aware that the crew of a cruise ship uses a few code words to communicate when passengers can overhear their conversation or for loudspeaker announcements. But what passengers don’t know is the meaning of the different codes and the fact that not all of them are related to medical emergencies.
The most talked about code currently is the Code Red which denotes an outbreak of a virus or other illness on the ship. In a Code Red, ill passengers are required to remain in their cabins and crew goes into deep cleaning mode. There are several codes which all mean that there is a medical emergency on a ship which includes Star Code, Code Blue, and Alpha, Alpha, Alpha.
This past year saw possibly the most incidents of someone going overboard as any year in the last two decades. In the event of a person being seen falling overboard or jumping overboard the proper alert is Oscar, Oscar, Oscar. If a crew member were to shout Charlie, Charlie, Charlie he or she is alerting other crew members of a potential security threat.
There are many situations which pose a much greater danger on a ship than they might on land. A fire on a cruise ship is one of the most serious incidents that can occur. The warning for a possible fire is Red Parties, Red Parties, Red Parties or Alpha Team, Alpha Team, Alpha Team. Another potentially grave situation involves a collision with another ship. The warning for a collision is Echo, Echo, Echo. If you hear that warning but are not near any other ships the alternate meaning for this warning is potentially high winds approaching.
And if you hear the term Delta used after any type of incidents such as a collision, high winds or dangerous seas then you can assume that there has been some damage to the ship. Delta and the phrase Priority 2 means that there is a leak in the ship. And a call over the loudspeaker of Kilo means that all crew members are to report to their emergency post.
Knowing a little bit about the warnings on a ship can provide you with a basic understanding and also allow you to be prepared in the event of an accident. But as you listen to the chatter among the crew, you will begin to realize that none of these phrases for a dangerous situation are being uttered. In most cases, the crew is chatting in a shorthand that becomes a part of each ship and each crew who work together in close quarters but still within earshot of passengers and the general public.