Today we bring you Part Two of our Spring Break Travel Safety Series: Cruise Ship Safety.
For many people, spring break means it’s time for a cruise. Cruises are great because the itinerary is planned for you and typically meals are included. Sometimes cruising isn’t all fun, though, when proper safety procedures aren’t followed by passengers. These safety tips aren’t meant to take the enjoyment out of your vacation, but rather allow you to make the most of it.
Choosing Your Cruise Ship
Of course the first step to going on a cruise is deciding which one! There are many different cruise lines and destinations to choose from. A major factor in your decision should be how reputable the cruise company is, and whether they have had any incidents lately. The CDC makes this easy with their Cruise Ship Score Card. You choose a cruise line, and can even choose the specific ship, to see how recently they have been inspected and what they scored. You also have the option of choosing only ships that scored a perfect 100, if that’s your top concern.
Every cruise ship has what is called a muster drill, sometimes referred to as a safety drill or lifeboat drill, where the crew of the ship performs a safety demonstration for passengers aboard so they are aware of what to do in case of an emergency. The drill includes information such as location of lifeboats, proper use of life vests, and evacuation routes on the ship. Muster drills must be performed within 24 hours of setting sail, but most cruise lines prefer to do it before the boat leaves the harbor.
While you will not be quizzed on it, it is very important to take the time to listen and understand what is said during the muster drill. Depending on the cruise line, they may take attendance in order to ensure every passenger is aware of the safety procedures. Imagine if an emergency did occur and half the ship had skipped the muster drill: chaos would ensue. Even if you feel that an emergency is unlikely, some cruise lines will not proceed with the drill until they have confirmed everyone is present, so you could be angering your fellow passengers by attempting to skip it.
Shore excursions are one of the most fun parts of cruising. Usually there are trips coordinated by the cruise line and passengers travel together as a group. It is advisable that you do these planned group excursions as opposed to setting out on your own. While it may be tempting to go off the beaten path, the cruise line has it planned the way they do for a reason. They know the areas that are safe and welcoming of tourists. Plus, there is safety in traveling with a group.
If the desire to set out on your own is just too great, be a savvy traveler. Get a cab from the area where there are other tourists, and negotiate your cab fare up front. Be clear and specific about where you want to go. Tourists can be an easy target in foreign countries, so if the cab driver doesn’t stick to the agreed upon fare or takes you out of the way, make it known that it is not acceptable. The more you assert you are street smart and aware of what’s going on, the less likely it is you will be taken advantage of.
Boozing and Cruising
Many people drink more alcohol when on vacation, especially on cruises where they know there is no possibility they will have to drive. Cutting loose with a couple drinks on vacation is great, but drinking too much on a cruise can be a bad idea for a few reasons. First of all, your safety could be at risk if you are not able to walk properly or find your cabin. There have even been instances of people falling off cruise ships, and given the speed at which they travel by the time it is noticed you’re gone it is probably too late.
Dehydration is another very real reason to limit your alcohol consumption. Cruising also means spending time outside, whether by the pool or on shore excursions and many cruise destinations are to the Caribbean or Mexico where the sun is stronger. A good strategy to avoid dehydration is to drink at least one glass of water in between each alcoholic drink. This will both slow down your alcohol intake and keep you hydrated.
Cruises can be a fantastic vacation option, allowing you to see multiple countries with minimal planning on your part. If you just take a few safety precautions before and during the trip, your cruise will be nothing but smooth sailing.
Wherever your Spring Break travels take you – across the open seas or in your own back yard for a “staycation” – an extra $100 can always help! Enter below for a chance to win a $100 Amazon.com Gift Card, sponsored by American Safety Council.