The cruise lines want passengers to think that their ship is like a floating paradise so they relax and spend money, but latest cruise disaster has prompted many future passengers to re-examine how they prepare for and take their cruises.
Before you cruise
Before you choose your cruise, get a sanitation report on the cruise ship. That will help you know how the CDC scores that cruise ship’s sanitary conditions.
Prepare a ditch bag
A ditch bag is a small bag holding the stuff you may need if you have to ditch – ditch your room, ditch the ship, whatever. What goes in your ditch bag? IDs, passports, necessary medications, cash, spare credit card, spare eyeglasses, those kinds of things. Pack a few additional zippered plastic bags – to keep your medications and cell phone dry.
Ideally, the bag should be as small as possible and it’s especially useful if it can be thrown over your shoulder and worn under your life vest.
FYI: most life vests are equipped with a whistle and strobe light, so those are probably not necessary to store in your ditch bag. If you’re worried though, any outdoor equipment store will be able to sell you a strobe light that’s safe for water emergencies and a whistle.
Your in-room safe may not be that safe
So many of the cabin safes are left locked when passenger disembark that just about every crew member knows the bypass code for opening them. Your in-room safe may be fine for everyday items like your address book and tip money, and of course you shouldn’t be traveling with any real valuables that you aren’t wearing continuously. If you are traveling with something valuable, use the ship’s safe instead. There are records of what’s placed into and taken out of that safe.
Stay aware of your surroundings
It can be hard not to let your guard down on vacation, but it’s important to remember that unsavory characters lurk everywhere just like at home. Sexual assaults, beatings, robberies, and more have and can occur – even on a cruise ship, which is, after all, a small self-contained city with thousands of passengers and crew members. Act as if you are in a city hotel rather than on a safe deserted island.
Watch the alcohol
Sure, you don’t have to drive home, but fights as well as stupid behavior can occur when you consume too much alcohol, as evidenced in 2010 by one passenger releasing the cruise ship anchor while underway. Other reports of cruise ship brawls are further evidence that too much alcohol and too few security guards simply don’t mix. Gives new meaning to ‘you booze, you cruise, you lose’ doesn’t it?
Have travel insurance
As they are returning home, passengers on the Costa Concordia have told stories of having to jump into the water and swim to shore. Many made their own way to other towns and paid additional money to get back home. See how this disaster may have been made a little easier for the stranded passengers with travel insurance.