Cruising continues to be one of the most popular vacation pastimes, with an average of more than 10 million Americans enjoying a cruise every year. One of the concerns that many people voice when considering a cruise is safety. Cruises are generally quite safe, but since they are effectively a small town at sea, there are always things that beginners and cruise veterans can do to keep themselves safe.
Pay close attention to your safety briefing. Most cruise lines give a mandatory safety orientation on the first day, often before the ship leaves. Do not view this as an inconvenience, but rather as an important introduction to the ship. You will be instructed what to do in case of an emergency. Become familiar with the path you must take from your cabin to your emergency grouping area so that you can follow it when necessary.
Take care of your health. Use your own restroom facilities instead of public ones as much as possible to avoid exposure to contagious illnesses. Carry antibacterial wipes or alcohol-based hand sanitizer. Begin a multivitamin regimen before you begin your cruise.
Wear appropriate shoes. Cruise ships are generally quite stable, but it is important to wear shoes with rubber grip soles, particularly when walking on the deck. Women should wear low heels if they wear heels at all. Do not go about barefoot, even when going to and from the pool.
Leave valuables at home. Every cruise has at least one dress-up night when guests are encouraged to come to dinner in formal attire. It is tempting to bring jewelry from home to celebrate this event. However, it is wiser simply to dress up and leave jewelry and other expensive items at home. Wearing and displaying valuables on a cruise can make you an obvious target for theft or assault. Your cabin will have a small safe, but many crew members will have the codes to override it for passengers who forget their own safe codes. If you must bring valuables with you, visit the boat’s administration desk for information on using the boat safe.
Keep your money out of sight. Unless you do a lot of gambling on board, this is easy on the ship, where most transactions are done with your room key as a debit card. However, when you leave the ship, be sure to keep your money in a traveler’s money belt, under your clothes. Keep a small amount of cash in a pocket for convenience, but if you decide to make a purchase, go somewhere out of sight to access your money or credit cards.
Do not travel alone. This applies to both the cruise experience itself, and traveling anywhere while on the cruise. Single travelers are most likely to be the victims of violent crime, sexual assault and theft. The buddy system is your first and best line of defense.
Drink in moderation. Alcohol is freely available on a cruise ship, at meals, at bars and at the casino. However, the most common crime on a cruise ship is sexual assault, and it most commonly happens when the victim is intoxicated. Drinking in your cabin is allowed, so if you plan to have more than a few drinks, it is best to do so in the safety of your room.