The tragic accident of the Costa Concordia this week has caused many travelers and potential cruise passengers to question cruise safety. I’ve sailed on more than 25 cruises and can attest that the overwhelming majority of crew and cruise ship officers are well-trained and have the welfare of the passengers always in mind. But, attention to safety is always a good idea.
Cruise travel remains one of the safest forms of transportation. In 2010 (the last year for which statistics are available), there were just four suspicious or accidental deaths aboard cruise ships that call on US ports, according to the US Coast Guard. This is out of the nearly 10 million Americans that sailed on such ships. However, it pays to take proactive steps to insure your safety when you travel on cruise ships (or any mode of commercial transportation.) Below are just a few things every cruise passenger can do to stay safe:
1. Take the evacuation drill seriously. It’s easy to dismiss the lifeboat and evacuation drill as unnecessary red tape, especially when it’s hot and you’d rather be sitting in the pool. However, taking the hour to learn where to go in a sea emergency could save your life. If you’re on a ship that takes on passengers at multiple ports (as the Costa Concordia did), the ship may not run the drill for several days. If so, make it your business to study the diagram in your stateroom so that you and your family know where to go.
2. Know where the life jackets and lifeboat stations are. This goes with knowing the evacuation drill. Make sure that everyone in your group knows where the life jackets are located in your cabin and where the lifeboat station is.
3. Set a meeting place for your family. If a disaster should occur at sea, the odds are that the members of your family or group will be spread out all over the ship. You may be in the salon, your teenagers at the pool, and your husband practicing his golf swing on deck. To avoid confusion and to quickly confirm that everyone is safe, set a central meeting stop for your group. It’s not a bad idea to also set up a back up spot, just in case the primary spot is off limits. Remember: if your ship loses power or is out of cell range, you won’t be able to communicate via phone.
4. Pack a small flashlight. Remember those small Rayovac flashlights many of us got free with coupons around Christmas time? These are the perfect size to slide easily in your purse when you travel, and not just on cruise ships. If the ship should lose power, like the Costa Concordia did, a flashlight could be a lifesaver and help you and your cabinmates navigate the confusing, pitch black corridors. If you don’t have these in your stockpile, they are available at Walmart for $1.00 in the sporting goods section.
The events of the last week will likely lead to increased cruise discounts.
Would you be willing to take a cruise this winter?