By Karen Cicero
June 19, 2014

My daughter is not a strong swimmer. And I have a bit of helicopter tendencies. So even though I'm watching her whenever we're at the pool or beach, I appreciate an extra set of eyes too. And it shocks me how many hotels and resorts don't have lifeguards—even if they have multi-million dollar water play areas. When I survey beach resorts for Parents 10 best stories, I always ask about lifeguard coverage. Much to my surprise, I've found that at least half of resorts, even the super-pricey ones, make you swim at your own risk. It's even worse on cruise lines. When I was researching our cruise story this year, I was shocked to learn that only one major cruise line, Disney, has lifeguards.That's despite the fact that this year, a 4-year-old drowned in a pool on a cruise line that didn't have guards at the pool.

If some resorts can afford seemingly over-the-top perks like a concierge just for kids, why can't they pay a lifeguard-certified college student to patrol the pool? I've asked that to travel industry friends over the years, and they say it comes down to liability. If something were to happen while the lifeguard were on duty, the resort might be deemed responsible. A warning sign about not having a lifeguard apparently lets them off the hook.

In a recent survey, 80 percent of parents say they'd look more favorable on a cruise line with lifeguard backup. So do me a favor (and I'll do the same) if you visit a hotel, resort, or cruise ship without a lifeguard, mention it when you're asked about your stay. (And by the same token, express your appreciation for lifeguard coverage.) If more moms and dads made it loud and clear that we'd like a lifeguard on duty—and told the travel industry that was a factor in making a decision about where we spend our vacation dollars—things might change. Are you with me?


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