“Yeah but on the Titanic…”
One of the common questions first time cruisers seem to ALWAYS ask is if cruise ships are safe. The answer is YES!
You may ask yourself… why trust this lady on the internet? Well, because I have been through two weeks of rigorous safety training, and have held several safety positions, which include mandatory weekly crew drills and monthly trainings.
Each lifeboat is manned by the lifeboat team – two people to lower the boat from the ship, three people to man the lifeboat as it lowers into the water, one lifeboat driver, one communicator, in charge of making sure everyone is accounted for, and a commander to ensure everyone is doing their job correctly and the process runs smoothly. I have served as a lifeboat communicator and now serve as a lifeboat commander. Here are some of the precautions we put in place to make sure every guest has an enjoyable, and safe, vacation:
- Life Jackets: We have a plethora of life jackets! Each cabin is stocked with at least one for each person in the cabin. In addition, there are thousands of additional life jackets stored in various locations around the ship – crew emergency areas, storage containers on the boat deck, life boats, etc. Each life jacket is equipped with an emergency whistle and light, which automatically turns on when it comes in contact with sea water. These jackets are tested regularly and donated to third world cities when they reach the cruise ship industry expiration date. If traveling with children, you can be assured that your ship will have child jackets as well.
- Inspections: Everything on cruise ships is CONSTANTLY being inspected, whether it’s by the security team on board or the local coastguard. We are routinely drilled and tested to make sure all equipment and knowledge is on par with coast guard standards.
- Fall-Proof Design: It is exceptionally difficult to fall overboard (on accident..). The open decks sport high railings and several life rings, which have a GPS beaker and light attached, again, automatically turning on when in contact with sea water.
- Not-So Pirates of the Caribbean: I have had many guests question the likelihood of the ship encountering pirates. The truth is that pirates can appear and strike at any time, anywhere. However, there are regions of the world where this activity is more likely, such as the Gulf of Aden, the Amazon River, off the coast of some parts of Asia and off the coast of Somalia. With that said, the chance of running into pirates is EXTREMELY LOW. For starters, very few ships even sail through the regions of the world where pirates have been recorded. Ships that are sailing in these regions take extra precautions such as increasing security and officer watches, and dimming the exterior lights at night. In the unlikely event that pirates do attempt to takeover, the ship and crew are capable and equipped to fend off any invasion.
- Key Cards & Metal Detectors: Before you step foot on the ship, you are given a key card and a photo is taken. Every time you exit or enter the ship for the duration of the cruise, your key card must be scanned, bringing up your photo and information to confirm your identity. You must also pass through a metal detector and have all of your belongings pass through an x-ray machine. This way no dangerous goods will make it past security and onto the ship!
As with any situation, there are still safety risks. So if you are considering booking a cruise vacation, or planning for your next one, make sure to keep these risks in mind while on board:
- Sickness: Ships have a large number of individuals living, eating, swimming, exercising, etc. in an enclosed area for an extended period of time. Because of this, it is very easy for sickness to spread from guest to guest. I have been on several ships with an outbreak of the notorious Noro Virus – a gastrointestinal infection that will have you exploding from both ends – which is spread by physical contact. If you are unlucky and come down with the illness, you will be quarantined in your cabin for 24-48 hours, an inconvenience that can seriously dent your vacation fun. Crew do the best we can by cleaning contact surfaces several times a day and offering a medical center with a full pharmacy. However, sickness can generally be avoided by washing hands frequently, especially before you eat, so make it a priority to save yourself the disappointment!
- Personal Safety: Possibly the biggest risk is personal safety. Cruise ships hold a large number of passengers, who have the potential to be.. inhumane. Just like anywhere else, make sure to be aware of your surroundings, and don’t leave your valuables lying around unattended.
- Pool Safety: Most cruise lines do not have professional lifeguards manning the pools. Keep an eye on children (and traveling companions) at all times.
Other than these minor risks, cruise ships are as safe as can be! So don’t worry too much, go ahead and book that vacation and enjoy yourself!