Summer is a popular season for family cruise vacations, although peak times for specific destinations vary according to their attractions. (The busiest season for Canada and New England cruises, for instance, is in September and October, when fall foliage flourishes.) More than 20 million people take cruise vacations every year, and the vast majority return with blissful memories and happy stories. Cruises often travel outside the legal borders of individual countries, though (and, more specifically, outside the scope of U.S. laws), so wherever your voyage may lead, you’re responsible for your own safety. To help you and your travel companions enjoy a safe, secure trip, we’ve put together a few tips on how to stay safe on ocean cruises.
Research Potential Ocean Liners
The Vessel Sanitation Program, run by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), tracks gastrointestinal illnesses aboard cruise ships. CruiseJunkie.com compiles anecdotal information about Events at Sea (“All the Things that Can Go Wrong On A Cruise”) from media reports, passenger accounts, and messages sent to the website. Review as much data as possible about potential ships before booking your cruise.
Take All Necessary Medical Precautions
Any reputable cruise ship offers qualified medical care, generally on par with ambulatory care centers. Research your chosen ship — and its various ports of call — beforehand to ensure that it can provide the medical services and resources to handle any pre-existing condition(s) among the people in your party. Also, stock up on all essential medications before boarding the ship; you should have enough on hand to last well beyond the scheduled cruise length, in case your return is delayed for some reason.
Use “Street Savvy”
Ocean liners are basically floating towns. The largest ship in the world, Allure of the Seas, contains 16 passenger decks, 24 passenger elevators, and accommodations for up to 6,318 guests and 2,384 crew members. It may be comforting to think that everyone is there to have (or contribute to) good clean fun, but most large groups include at least a few troublemakers. Follow certain safety measures:
- Know the ship’s emergency procedures
- Travel in groups (or at least pairs)
- Drink responsibly
- Avoid (and report) shady behavior
- Supervise children at all times
- Leave valuables at home
Use Common Sense
Beyond the usual risks that life offers anywhere, the hazards on a cruise ship include going overboard. It’s been estimated that more than 200 people have fallen overboard since 1995, and rescue efforts in open water can be incredibly difficult. Recognize and respect the potential perils of ocean travel, and make sure you don’t place yourself (or anyone else on the ship) in harm’s way.
Try Travel Plus
Through Travel Plus, you can earn 5% cash back on flight, hotel, and rental-car reservations to and from your cruise ship embarking and debarking destinations — and get rebates on all those perks that make vacation travel that much more enjoyable. Be sure to leave us a comment to share your favorite cruise ship memories.