Don’t Go On A Cruise Without Taking These 10 Steps

by | Apr 6, 2023 | Travel

In 2012, Georgia Ananias was enjoying a Mediterranean cruise with her family when the unthinkable happened. Their vessel, Costa Concordia, struck a rock formation on the sea floor and began to capsize. It happened so quickly that not all passengers and crew were able to evacuate in lifeboats. Thirty-two people died.“It was an awful experience,” she told HuffPost. “I can still hear the screaming. It’s a life-changing experience that nobody wants to have. You’d never think that when you go on a cruise that something like that can happen.”AdvertisementOf all the travel disasters, cruise ship incidents certainly make their fair share of headlines. People have strong opinions about cruises, so whether there are disease outbreaks, reports of assault or deadly accidents, these events tend to garner a lot of attention.Despite these stories, cruise expert Stewart Chiron aka “The Cruise Guy,” emphasized that such occurrences are overall rare when you look at the large number of cruise voyages and passengers that enjoy incident-free experiences each year. “It is in the interest of all the ships to provide as safe an environment and experience as possible,” he said. “Unfortunately, there are bad situations that occur, but it’s far fewer than what we would see ashore.”“There is nothing that suggests that all cruises are unsafe,” echoed Dr. Mark Fischer, regional medical director of International SOS. “Dangerous situations can happen anywhere at any time, and this includes on cruise ships.”AdvertisementStill, he added, there are always unique health and safety risks when you embark on any travel journey, so it’s important to stay vigilant. “According to the CDC, the most common health threats to cruise passengers include norovirus, seasickness and respiratory illnesses,” Fischer said. “Some of the most common safety threats include extreme weather and petty crime. There are some things out of a traveler’s control when on a cruise ship. However, there are also important guidelines a traveler can put into place to ensure safety.”Below, experts share their advice for prioritizing health and safety during a cruise vacation, from pre-travel procedures to tips for port excursions. Pay attention to safety drills.“First and foremost, remember to pay attention during the mandatory muster drill,” Fischer said. “This is where you will learn where the life jackets are, what alarms mean, and what to do during certain emergencies. You should practice this drill a few hours after the instruction to ensure you retain the information.”Pay particular attention to the emergency signal, which typically consists of seven or more short blasts of the horn followed by one long blast. You can find recordings online to familiarize yourself with the sound.AdvertisementAnanias, now senior vice president of International Cruise Victims, recalled hearing the signal on the day of the Costa Concordia disaster. She and her family narrowly survived amid the chaos and confusion. “There were so many people from different countries, so they had to do five announcements in different languages from the PA system,” she said. “That’s why it’s helpful to know the signal since there can be language barriers or the PA system might stop working.” David Sacks via Getty ImagesThere are simple steps you can take that will help keep you safe and healthy while on a cruise, according to experts.Be on alert when visiting ports.“If guests are wandering off the boat at a port, they should be aware of any safety concerns such as scams to avoid or pickpockets,” said Cathy Pedrayes, a safety expert and author of “The Mom Friend Guide to Everyday Safety and Security.” “The cruise ship can probably advise on any safety concerns specific to the area. And if you’re touring at a port, remove the obvious markers that you’re a tourist, such as a cruise ship ID bracelet unless required as part of a group tour.”Before you disembark to explore a port, consider paring down your wallet to just one or two credit cards, especially if you’re traveling with a partner who has cards connected to the same accounts. That way, you’ll minimize the consequences of falling victim to theft. “A lot of times, people don’t consider that they’re traveling internationally on the cruise because they departed from a U.S. port,” Stewart said. “Obviously, you want to have a great time, but you still need to have your wits about you. Tourists are …

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