Clients are always asking me about how safe it is to cruise with their family. As a veteran of over 100 cruises, and having been in the cruise industry for over 28 years, I can safely say that cruising is one of the SAFEST ways to travel with your family!
Yes, we always hear about the horrible things that happen on cruise ships...people disappearing, or falling off the side of the ship, but we never stop to think of the MILLIONS of people that are on cruises each and every day who are having a marvelous, safe time on their ships. You have more of a chance of being hit by a car, or even by lightning, than you do of being killed on a cruise ship!
Here's six safety tips to remember when traveling on cruise ships...just some things to keep in the back of your mind as you cruise the seven seas:
- Attend ALL muster drills. These have been put into place to make sure you know EXACTLY what to do in the case of an emergency. After the Costa Concordia incident, cruise lines are having these drills on the very first day, usually just before or just after embarkation. Most cruise lines will take roll-call to ensure you attend, and all essential services onboard (such as bars, passenger service desk, shore excursion desk, etc.) are closed during these drills. This is really one of the most important things you can do to ensure your safety onboard.
- Study the evacuation routes from your stateroom. If there IS an emergency, you may find yourself panicking, and you want to be able to go into 'auto-pilot' knowing exactly what direction to go once you exit your stateroom. There is often a few different routes you can go to your muster station, so figure out at least two of them on that first day you embark the ship. Remember, if there is a fire, there may be smoke in the hallways, (most hallways are now lit with floor lighting) so you want to be able to know where to go, even if your vision is impaired.
- Wash hands thoroughly as much as possible to avoid viruses and other colds, flus and contagious illnesses. Novovirus is notorious for being passed along a cruise ship; oftentimes it has nothing to do with the cleanliness of a ship, but is brought onboard from a passenger in a port of call and spreads like wildfire. The same with colds and flus...a passenger will come onboard with the illness (heaven forbid they miss their cruise!) and because you are in a contained enviornment, it spreads within days. If you just wash your hands as much as possible, you will give yourself the best possible defense from these illnesses. I actually bring a container of antibacterial softsoap for my stateroom bathroom, and I use antibacterial lotion whenever it is offered on the ship.
- If you have any special needs, bring your own medicines and supplies. The cruise ship does have a medical center, but they are very expensive and might not stock the specific medicines or devices you may need for your particular situation. Always bring not only enough for the length of the cruise, but also a few days more in case of emergency. The passengers on the Carnival Triumph were only suppossed to be on the ship for five days, and the cruise went to eight days, so you want to make sure you are covered just in case. I always bring medicines to cover 3-4 days longer than the trip duration. I also make sure to bring extra in case something happens to my medicine container (such as it getting wet.) Once on the ship, I put my medicines in the safe to keep them...well, safe! Many people (such as room stewards, mechanics, passenger service department) have keys to your stateroom, so you don't want to leave any medicines out to tempt others...I can't imagine how horrible it would be to have your all-important medicines stolen from your room! (I have never had it happen, but you never know.)
- Follow all posted signs and announced instructions on the ship. If a sign says, 'Crew only,' make sure you don't enter that area of the ship. If you hear instructions over the loud speaker to proceed to your muster station, then by all means, stop what you are doing and go! Cruise ships don't make those announcements lightly; you need to listen and follow the instructions to the letter. Chances are you will never have to muster (I've never had to in over 100 cruises), but if you do, follow exactly what they say.
- Make an emergency kit and put aside a drawer with emergency clothing in case you have to evacuate. Ever since the Costa Concordia incident I have put together an emergency kit that I can just grab in a flash, and it will have everything I need in case we need to depart the ship in a hurry. I put:
1) Two credit cards
2) All my cash
3) Three to four days of medicines - make sure you have
ALL of your medicines
4) All passports
Then, in a drawer that is used exclusively for my evacuation 'outfit' I put long pants, a long sleeve top, a sweatshirt, socks, sneakers, a FLASHLIGHT (which I bring from home) and a waterproof jacket. This way, if we are in an emergency, I can just go to this drawer, and we each have exactly what we need to put on for evacuation. We grab the emergency kit, our lifejackets, and we are ready to go within 3 minutes.
It just takes a few minutes, and a little bit of effort to give yourself the edge when it comes to safety. Make sure to bring a flashlight from home (you never know when you may need it!) and clothing that you can slip on in case of an evacuation. And most important, follow all safety rules while onboard the ship! This will ensure you and your family will have a safe, event-free cruise!