It’s no secret that the majority of cruise coverage in the news is negative. But contrary to what the sensationalist reporting would have you believe, norovirus, theft, injuries, and other accidents are actually extremely rare. In fact, statistically speaking, cruising is the safest form of travel.
Still, it never hurts to be prepared, and in many ways we're all repsonsible for our own saftey. We’ve come up with the best tips to keep you and your traveling companions safe at sea:
Before the Cruise
The CDC conducts regular inspections of every cruise ship.
- Check out your ship’s CDC report card. Every ship has a rating from the Center for Disease Control, so you’ll be able to see if there have been any norovirus outbreaks.
Always make sure you know where your muster station is. - Photo by Shutterstock
- Attend the muster drill and pay attention. We know you want to get your vacation started, but 20 minutes isn’t going to delay your fun that much.
- Memorize your exit route. Cruise ship corridors can feel like a labyrinth, so be sure you know the quickest route from your cabin to the open decks and your muster station.
- In the event of an evacuation, evacuate immediately. Don't delay your exit to get valuables, passports or luggage. Just go.
In Your Cabin
All cabins have a safe you can use to store your valuables.- Photo by Silversea
- Lock up your valuables. Keep electronic devices or other valuables in the room’s safe when you leave.
- Don't hang clothing or laundry on your balcony. It may seem a quick, green way to dry your clothes, but it's actually a fire hazard.
On the Ship
Stairs are the location of many a cruise ship accident. - Photo by hxdbzxy / Shutterstock
- Use the hand-railings. It sounds obvious, but the vast majority of cruise ship injuries are due to falls.
- Don’t drink more than you can handle. Nothing makes rough seas harder to deal with than a few too many cocktails.
- Don't throw cigarette butts over the side of the ship. Lit cigarette butts can blow back onboard and start a fire. Use the cigarette disposal bins in the smoking areas instead.
- Watch your friends and family at the pool. Only Disney Cruise Line has trained lifeguards, and even they are only stationed at family pools during certain times.
- Keep your hands thoroughly washed. Make full use of the hand sanitizer provided in dining areas. Even if norovirus isn’t an issue, thousands of people sharing a confined space makes it easy for germs to spread.
Don't venture too far from the dock unless you know where you're going. - Photo by Ruth Peterkin / Shutterstock
- Research your ports of call in advance. Some ports you visit are going to be more impoverished than others, and consequently, more dangerous. As is the case with most cities, if you wander a few blocks in the wrong direction you can find yourself in a dangerous area. Read port reviews and tips to make sure you know what areas to avoid.
- Only bring what you need for the day’s purchases. Don't bring more than one credit card or more cash than you need for what you plan to buy that day.
- Carry a "mugger's wallet". Stuff an old wallet with a few dollars and an old credit card or two. In the unlikely event you do get mugged, you can hand that over first.
- Book the sponsored excursions. You might be able to save a few bucks by booking shore excursions independently of the cruise line, but the safer bet is to book excursions only through the ship or a well-known independent vendor (like ShoreFox or Shore Excursions Group).
These tips were compiled in part by #CruiseChat, the only Twitter chat dedicated to the fun and exciting world of cruise travel. Join the conversation every Tuesday at 2 pm ET. Visit CruiseChatLive.com to learn more.