Traveling on a cruise ship is basically like hanging out in a small floating city. Passengers are contained on board (except for when they make port calls), and this microcosm of the real world is all they know for the duration of their trip. Though the world is quite restricted on a cruise ship, there are a handful of things that people should know in order to stay safe and enjoy their floating vacation.
Research before you book. Just as some hotels are better than others, some cruise ships are better than others. There are several cruise ship “report cards” available for review, the most comprehensive of which seems to be the one from the Centers for Disease Control. This provides a bit of insight on how specific cruise ships rank for certain health and safety features.
Use the ship’s safe. Though the cruise ship is your home away from home for the duration of your trip, it’s wise to take the natural precautions you would practice in a hotel or any other temporary living situation. Lock up your valuables, cash, passport and anything else of value. Don’t forget to retrieve these items when your trip is over.
Maintain diligence. You might not be in New York City or Paris, but your cruise ship is still teeming with (probably) thousands of people you don’t know. Be mindful of your surroundings, and trust your gut if something doesn’t feel or seem right. Don’t be afraid to report suspicious activity to the purser’s office.
Hold on to the rail. For the most part, ships often fairly even walking surfaces, but occasionally they hit a bit of a rough patch. Don’t hesitate to hold on to the handrail as you use the stairs or make your way around the perimeter of the ship. Also, be mindful of your footing in the ship’s fitness center if you’re on a treadmill.
Use sunscreen. Whether you’re hanging out by the cruise ship’s pool, sipping a cocktail on the deck or headed inland for a day excursion, lather on plenty of sunscreen. On a boat, you’re completely surrounded by water, so the reflections from the sun’s rays are even more brutal. Don’t let a nasty sunburn ruin your vacation.
Be mindful of the booze. You’re on vacation, the cocktails are free flowing and you’re charging everything to your room. I get it. Drinking on a cruise ship is just a part of the fun. But alcohol has the ability to impair your judgment, and it’s probably a good idea to keep a bit of a clear mind. If you’re traveling with a partner, agree to look out for each other.
Don’t pull a Kate Winslet. This isn’t Titanic. ‘Nuff said.
Watch your step. Around the pool area and after the deck has been washed or it has rained, it may be slippery. Avoid wet spots if possible, and if you have to walk through or near them, be careful not to slip.
Carry your caution to the shore. Cruise ships aren’t necessarily pockets of confined safety (hence the hint above about maintaining diligence) but don’t forget that part of the cruise ship experience involves shore excursions. Most cruise ships organize excursions with tour operators they know and trust, but these can be a bit on the pricey side. More adventurous travelers may choose to go it on their own instead, which is a perfectly legitimate option, but you lose a bit of that quality guarantee that you might have with a cruise-sponsored excursion. When you take your shore excursions into your own hands, be a smart traveler like you would in any other situation. Negotiate cab rates upfront, keep an eye on your belongings and trust your gut.