One of the most frequent questions that our lawyers receive from individuals other than clients is: “I am going on a cruise – is there anything that I should do (or not do)?” The short answer, is “yes,” cruising can be a wonderful vacation with many attractive features – it can be a great value, allow you to travel over a relatively large area without packing/unpacking several times, and provides access to a large number of exciting activities and entertainment. However, with the slew of cruise ship accidents that have befallen the cruise industry as of late, it’s important for passengers to know what their options are when it comes to staying safe on the high seas. Although accidents on cruise ships cannot be avoided sometimes, there are certain things travelers can do to protect themselves from harm.
Travel in Large Groups
The larger the group that you are traveling with, the lesser the chance that you will be targeted by thieves or sexual assailants both onboard a ship and in port. The Bahamas, one of the most popular cruise spots, has become increasingly dangerous, especially for women. Sexual predators target women who are traveling alone and have no one to turn to for help. Pickpockets and other criminals tend to aim for single travelers as well. As the old saying goes, there is safety in numbers. Larger groups are deterrents for criminals because there is a greater chance group members will fight back. It is important – especially while in a foreign countries – to have at least one other person with you to ensure your safety.
Bring Walkie Talkies Onboard
Once cruise ships leave port cell phone service is spotty and very expensive. If your cell phone doesn’t work or if you wisely decide you need to power off your phone to avoid the excessive charges associated with onboard cell service, how are you going to be able to communicate with your travel partners? The answer: Walkie Talkies. No worrying about whether or not you get reception. No worrying that your battery will die. No worrying about per minute charges. Walkie Talkies usually take AA batteries and work throughout a ship whether it’s in port or in the middle of the ocean. This is especially important if you are traveling with children. Even the most well-behaved children can quickly become distracted and break away from their groups. When this happens, children may get hurt or may be targeted by sexual predators. Having a Walkie Talkie for all family members is critical to ensure you know where the entire family is at all times.
Establish Meeting Points
Even if you have Walkie Talkies, it’s good to have a failsafe in case groups get separated. Choose an area of the ship that can serve as a meeting point for your loved ones in case you get separated. It would be best to choose an area where there is constant traffic so that if a child gets lost, they will not have to wait for the rest of the group alone in a desolate area. Too many times, children are vulnerable to sexual assault by other passengers or crew members. Constant supervision and family meeting points are essential to keeping tabs on your loved ones. Choosing a spot that’s out in the open can decrease the chances of someone getting hurt.
Download Our Cruise Lawyer App
Your cell phone may or may not work onboard the cruise ship, but our new free Cruise Ship Lawyer App definitely will. The app was created for your protection so you can document any accidents or illnesses, keep track of expenses, take pictures of the accident or crime scene, and communicate with our attorneys in the event someone in your party becomes the victim of an accident or crime at sea. The app comes with a built-in Wi-Fi feature that allows you to reach our cruise lawyers at any time so we can get a head start on your case and give you legal advice following an incident. Additionally, the app provides you with a flashlight feature in case the power on the ship gets knocked out. After February’s Carnival Triumph cruise ship fire left over 4,000 people stranded in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico without power, working toilets and with meager food provisions, it’s hard to predict what kind of crazy cruise accident will happen next. It’s always better to be prepared in case tragedy strikes than to be left with nowhere to turn in your time of need.
Bring a Care Package
Although most cruise ships have medical staff onboard, as well as supplies like bandages and alcohol swabs in case someone gets hurt, it’s always a good idea to bring your own first aid kit with things you may need in case someone in your group becomes ill or gets injured. Bandages, alcohol swabs, gauze, and pain medication can be brought onboard and help you patch up a minor injury while you are out at sea or in a foreign port. It would also be in your best interest to bring some snacks onboard and a few bottles of water. Passengers on the Carnival Triumph had to make do with cucumber and condiment sandwiches, which isn’t much to hold up travelers for several days on end. Bring a few granola bars and other non-perishable goods that can at least hold you up in the event your cruise ship loses power.
These are just a few things you can to increase your chances of surviving a cruise ship disaster. It’s always important to be well-aware of the fact that accidents can – and do happen – so you are better prepared in the event of an emergency at sea.