Scattering ashes at sea

When it comes to storing or scattering ashes after a cremation, there are many different options to choose from. Some choose to store them vases or memorial compartments, such as those in our granite benches, complete with memorial plaques. Some, however, choose to spread the ashes in a specifically chosen location. A growing trend in the USA is to scatter the ashes from a cruise ship, sending their loved one out into the ocean wind to be dispersed across the water.

The centre of the growing trend appears to be Carnival cruise lines, based in the United States. Figures show that, across their fleet, ashes are scattered four or five times a week, with over two hundred ceremonies organised each year. The cruise line organises the required paperwork, the ceremony and even provides a letter from the captain detailing the ship’s position where the ashes were scattered.

Carnival is one of the main cruise lines that allows customers to scatter ashes, as long as the process fulfils the relevant criteria and those scattering the ashes have permission. The regulations include ensuring the container is made of the right material, such as wood, plastic, cardboard or non-lead based ceramic; also, the ashes must be maintained in a leak proof and sealed container, and be able to pass through X-ray machines. The scattering must be performed at least twelve nautical miles from land, with the date and time planned out in advance. The ceremony is overseen by certain individuals including a member of Guest Services staff and the Environmental and Occupational Safety Officer. Some other cruise lines allow guests to scatter ashes, and some companies are even beginning to cater specifically to those who want to do this. However, it should be noted that not all cruise line operators allow it, which means those looking to do this need to check prior to making serious plans.

It’s certainly a unique method of dealing with cremated remains. Though permits are required for burials at sea to prevent resurfacing, there are fewer laws surrounding the spreading of ashes, although there are still requirements in accordance with the International Maritime Organisation. As this trend grows in the USA, it is not unlikely to believe that the trend could reach the UK, providing a particularly fitting tribute for those who loved the sea during their lifetime.

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