Your long-awaited for cruise vacation is quickly approaching. Like any traveler, you’re likely planning what you’re going to bring aboard, what you’re going to wear, and are making sure that you have the right camera on hand to take those perfect vacation selfies. But while it may be easy to get caught up in the excitement of an upcoming getaway, many cruise passengers often overlook important practical preparations that could keep them safe in the event of an emergency on the high seas. That being said, our cruise ship accident attorneys here at LMAW have put together an easy pre-departure checklist that can help ensure that you and your loved ones are well-prepared for your next cruise vacation and stay as safe as possible.
1. Stay informed and keep the right people informed. No one wants to think about worst case scenarios, but every year passengers are sexually assaulted, robbed, and hurt while on board cruise ships. Before you leave, speak to your travel agent or do some research on your own and find out the age of the ship you’ll be sailing on and the vessel’s country of registration. Then, register your vacation with the U.S. Department of State. If there is any problem, the authorities will have all the necessary and correct information at their disposal. More importantly, if any of your important documents are stolen, misplaced or damaged, the U.S. government will have your records on file. This can drastically reduce the time it can take to investigate an accident or crime, as well as protect your rights.
2. Make sure you’re covered, medically. Did you know that your U.S. medical insurance may not be honored at foreign ports of call? Foreign medical care can be very expensive and your U.S. medical insurance policy may not cover procedures performed while at sea. Furthermore, passengers who visit the cruise ship’s medical facilities may find themselves facing steep medical bills that may not be covered by their traditional insurance provider. In order to protect yourself (and limit your out of pocket expenses), it’s a wise idea to purchase travel insurance that will cover any procedures or doctor’s visits at sea and at the ports of call you’ll be visiting. Travel insurance is often relatively inexpensive when one considers the potential consequences of medical bills abroad, but not just any insurance will suffice. Make sure you read all the fine print in the insurance policy. Or else, you might find yourself having to cover the cost of your medical bills like this elderly Azamara cruise passenger, who was injured and left stranded in Turkey. Passengers should also check with the CDC to ensure that they have all the proper vaccinations and preventative medicines for their trip. Make sure that you check with the CDC early, as some vaccinations may have to be administered in a series over weeks or months in order to be effective. Medical expenses incurred during a cruise vacation can be tricky to fight, but passengers can always turn to a cruise ship accident lawyer for help.
3. Check the news. If you’re sailing to a foreign country, you need to be aware that international relations and government stability can change on a daily basis. In the weeks and months before you leave for your trip, you’ll want to keep a close watch of the news to see if there’s any political unrest that may jeopardize your safety. It’s important to note that the U.S. government issues frequent safety alerts for tourists. One way to stay informed is by visiting the Website of the Bureau of Consular Affairs for the most up-to-date information regarding any incidents that may pose a risk for travelers. The Website also offers resources that can allow you to enroll for free assistance in the event of an emergency while you are abroad.
A cruise vacation can be an incredible experience. You’ll visit many new and exotic locales, enjoy some much-deserved rest and relaxation, and get some sun and fun. Yet, some passengers run into trouble every year while on a cruise ship. The best way to ensure you stay as safe as possible is to be prepared for the worst-case-scenarios. Registering your vacation with the right authorities, being informed about the ship you’re sailing on, ensuring your medical insurance and vaccines are up to date, and making yourself aware of any potential risks in port will increase your chances of enjoying a safer cruising experience.