Cruises are a great way to travel and enjoy some R&R, but you can’t avoid using common sense to stay safe and healthy.
Cruise ships are like tiny towns on the sea. For the most part, cruising is a safe way to travel. Many travelers have trips that are without incident. Still, there’s always a possibility of issues. Some people are criminals and take a cruise. Your health and safety isn’t a given. Planning ahead before your cruise and taking a few precautions, just as you might if you were in your own home, will keep you safe and well.
Packing for a Cruise
Along with your clothes, you should pack a few things for safety. Put your valuables and medication in your carry-on. If you get separated from your luggage for any reason, you’ll still have what cannot be replaced. Pack a small flashlight in case there is a power failure. A rubber door wedge is a good item to have, too. You can place the wedge under the door bottom to make sure no one can break in. For cruises from Miami, be sure to pack sunscreen and sun hat to keep from getting sunburnt. Make copies of your passport and ID in case it gets lost. Bring sensible shoes that won’t slip.
When You Board the Ship
On most cruises, you’ll need to attend the muster drill before the cruise begins. Don’t skip this. For one thing, it could be mandatory. But more importantly, it will familiarize you with procedures in case of an emergency. You’ll learn how to put on a life vest and where to go in case of certain problems. You may also get some inside information on getting around. Don’t carry a lot of money on board. You shouldn’t need much cash, except for gambling.
While You’re Traveling
During your cruise, use common sense to stay safe and healthy. Drink responsibly. Don’t accept drinks from strangers. Don’t walk back to your cabin with a stranger or go to a cabin with a person you don’t know. If you can travel in pairs or a group, it keeps you safer from crime. If you are travelling solo, don’t announce it. Put your valuables in your cabin safe. Although you can generally trust the ship’s crew, don’t go to their quarters. Remember to lock your door when you leave and have a way to keep up with your key. Don’t forget to lock balcony doors. It’s better to call room service directly than to leave a note on the door. Get to know the steward, because he or she will recognize strangers trying to get into your room.
Wash your hands frequently. Norovirus is a contagious virus that is often associated with cruise ships, but it actually isn’t responsible for most cases of gastrointestinal problems on cruises. However, according to the CDC, close living quarters increases the amount of group contact and people joining the ship can bring the virus. Use warm water and soap to wash your hands. If soap isn’t available, a hand sanitizer in gel form that is at least 60% ethanol is an acceptable substitute. You may also want to pack antibacterial wipes for when you have to use a bathroom at a port of call.
Stay Safe on Port Excursions
Enroll in STEP, the Smart Traveler Enrollment Program of the U.S. Department of State. You’ll get information about the destination countries about safety. It’s a free service. If there is an emergency, such as civil unrest or a family problem, being enrolled in STEP can help the U.S. Embassy or your family get in contact with you. When taking excursions off ship, make sure to check the safety record of the company. Choose excursions wisely and try to go with a group to stay safe. Again, don’t carry a lot of cash around. Put your money in a belt that is attached to your body.
Cruises are a great way to travel and enjoy some R&R, but you can’t avoid using common sense to stay safe and healthy. Don’t make yourself a target for some nefarious person.