Anchors Aweigh! Staying Safe On Board
Generally, cruising is an exceptionally safe way to travel with your family. Crime onboard the ship is very low, but presents the same issues any other travel destination would when you’re sharing the same space with 5,000 other people. Keep in mind that although your ship may feel like a floating city, you’re still on a boat in the middle of nowhere and should be aware of certain safety issues as a result.
Here are some tips to follow to make your time onboard the safest experience for you and your family:
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it’s easy to feel lulled into a false sense of security while onboard. Outside of clubs and special events designated just for kids, your kids, even ones you would normally trust alone at home, should be with an adult to protect them from the obvious, but just as important, to make sure they stay away from the railings and edges of the boat. Kids are kids and we all know no matter how many times you talk to them about things they’re bound to do something boneheaded without an adult present. Also, these boats are huge, and I mean absolutely MASSIVE. So massive that even after eight days onboard I was still getting lost and turned around. Don’t trust your littles to navigate their way back to you or your stateroom alone unless you want to be THAT parent who’s paged over the shipwide intercom system to come pick up their hysterical lost kids at the guest services desk. You don’t have to hover, but stick closeby on the ship. You can teach independence at home.
Most cruise lines make this super easy for you now as they use a cashless system onboard for all purchases and won’t even accept cash, credit, or debit cards for payment. When you check in before embarkation, you’ll be issued an onboard card that is linked to whatever credit card you have on file with the cruise line. You will use this onboard card to make any purchases on the ship, then upon debarkation, the balance on this card will be charged to the credit card on file. Even tips to the bartender are charged to your onboard account. Of course you should bring some cash with you to pay for taxis, tips, and expenses while on shore, but there is no need to carry it or credit/debit cards around with you onboard. Keep your cash and cards safely locked away in your stateroom instead.
Each cabin onboard will have a small safe about the size of a shoebox, just enough room for passports, cash, jewelry, and other smaller valuables. Take advantage of this free service and don’t leave your valuables laying around your cabin while you’re gone. This doesn’t at all speak to the personal integrity of the cruise employees, but when it comes to my money and my social security number if I don’t know you, I don’t trust you.
I don’t care how badly you want that panoramic family Christmas photo, or how tightly you think you’re holding onto your little while they get a better view. Of the tens of millions of people who cruise every year, about 20 of them fall overboard. Please don’t put yourself anywhere near the position of being one of them, or worse, one of your littles. Which leads me to my next point…
I feel like it’s obligatory for me to mention this, at least to some degree. You really should watch what you drink on board anyways even if you were sans kids; intoxication is the number one reason how and why people fall overboard. This really needs little explanation, but please know your limits and stay well under them during the trip. If you want a booze cruise, leave the littles at home.
Or anything that could cause one. A fire breaking out is one of the most dangerous things that could happen onboard. Cruise ships and cabins are built so compactly that a fire could quicky trap people or leave your ship disabled at sea. If you smoke, only do this at the designated areas on your ship and NOWHERE else. Don’t even think about flicking your cigarette butt into the ocean, either. Chances are it will actually blow back towards your ship and if still smoldering, could easily fall into a lower balcony and catch a towel or clothing on fire. You also aren’t allowed to use anything with a hot plate, like clothing irons or that hair straightener you really don’t have on board in case anyone asks. Please please please, BE CAREFUL.
I cannot stress this enough. Germs and intestinal bugs can spread like wildfire on cruise ships and they are so contagious, especially if you don’t wash your hands regularly. It’s okay to not be extra vigilant about handwashing in everyday parenting but onboard a cruise ship, don’t play around, and bring hand sanitizer too. It’s okay to look a little crazy. You’ll never see these people again.
Before your boat sets sail, cruise staff will conduct a safety drill where you’ll be shown where to go in case of an emergency, how to put on a life jacket and how to board a lifeboat. It’s hot and inconvenient and cramped, but listen closely and take these instructions seriously. Heaven knows you’d never like to have to follow any of these procedures in real life, but if the worst happens, at least you’ll be prepared to keep you and your family as safe as possible.
Cruising is a great opportunity to let loose and enjoy a diverse amount of entertainment and amenities all within steps of each other; it’s a unique experience you really won’t find anywhere else. Taking just a few basic safety precautions will ensure your adventure at sea is as safe as possible. Bon Voyage!