Norwegian Cruise Line said it will employ lifeguards on its ships, adding to the list of cruise lines taking that water safety step.

The Norwegian lifeguards will be trained and certified by the American Red Cross in lifesaving rescue measures and will monitor the family pools during scheduled pool hours. The lifeguards will begin this summer on the line's four largest ships -- Norwegian Escape, Getaway, Breakaway and Epic -- and on the remainder of the fleet by early 2018. 

"Norwegian has stationed pool monitors on our largest ships since 2015, and we are now taking further steps to ensure the safety of our youngest guests with the addition of certified lifeguards across our fleet," said Andy Stuart, president and CEO of Norwegian. "While parents are always the first line of supervision when it comes to water safety, we felt it was important to provide this added measure across our fleet." 

Norwegian's move follows by several months the installation of lifeguards on Royal Caribbean International ships.  Disney Cruise Line added lifeguards to its quartet of ships in 2013. Prior to that, all cruise lines followed a “swim at your own risk” policy, cautioning passengers around the pool area with signage.

Children have drowned or nearly drowned in pools on cruise ships several times in the past five years. In 2015, a 10-year-old drowned in a crowded swimming pool on the Norwegian Gem. 

In addition to uniformed lifeguards, Norwegian will also begin offering complimentary swim vests for both adults and children on the line's four largest ships. Parents can obtain the safety vests at the towel station on the ship's pool deck during daytime hours, Norwegian said.

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