If you are one of the more than 10 million Americans who take a cruise each year, consider the following safety tips to ensure you have a fun but safe experience. Regardless if this is your first cruise or you’ve been cruising for years, everyone should follow these precautions.
Research the Ship
Before you even book your cruise, you should register the ship that you plan on taking for your trip. Each ship is rated by the Center for Disease Control (CDC) and this “report card” can give you valuable information about the quality of the boat. The ratings include the vessel’s cleanliness, pest control, food preparation, water quality, and a history of repairs.
Consider the Destinations
If the ship has passed your “report card” requirements, the next step before you book is to research the destinations listed on the itinerary and research them to learn about any required health and safety precautions. You should make sure you have the correct foreign visas for all of the locations and make a list of the contact of the U.S. embassies each country just in case there is an emergency. In addition, always bring your passport as well as a color photocopy of it.
Pay Attention to the Safety Briefings
An important safety tip that may seem obvious is to listen to the safety briefings – however often times people are too distracted by the excitement of boarding the ship or feel that they have heard the briefing too many times and do not pay attention.
The briefing at the start of the cruise is mandatory and will provide useful information in case an emergency were to occur on the ship. This includes what areas you need to gather in should something happen.
Likewise, cruise ships will also post water warnings depending on the port you are in. The water on the ships is generally safe to drink, but the water in certain ports may not so make sure you read these notices carefully.
Wash Your Hands
Washing your hands is essential to staying healthy on a ship. There are a lot of people in a confined space, so it doesn’t take long for one sick person to contaminate a large group of people. Be prepared and use hand sanitizer, antibacterial wipes, and wash your hands often.
If you can, use the restroom in your cabin rather than the public facilities and avoid excessively touching handrails, seat backs, and other possibly contaminated surfaces.
Protect Your Valuables
It is important to secure your valuables on a cruise ship just like you would while traveling in any other matter. If possible, leave your valuables at home and store what you must bring, like passports, cash, and some jewelry, in the safe in your cabin.
Speaking of cash, avoid bringing large sums of money on the trip altogether. You won’t need cash for onboard transactions since most of that will be charged to your room, and you should only need a little bit of money when on shore.
You should also make sure to lock your cabin door and balcony, if applicable. This is a precaution you should take regardless of how long you are leaving the room in order to keep your belongings safe.
Although you are on vacation and will be relaxing, you cannot forget to stay vigilant. Remain aware of your surroundings and if possible, avoid walking around by yourself at night. If you are traveling alone, look for other travelers to pair up with and try to set up a buddy system.
If you will be drinking, make sure to drink wisely and not overdo it. It is important not to let your guard down too much and put yourself in a situation where you can be taken advantage of. It is important to note that sexual assault is the most common crime on a cruise, in part because of the wide availability of alcoholic beverages.