Step on a cruise ship, and you’re likely thinking about umbrella drinks, hanging out by the pool, and working on your tan. Safety and health are just about the last thing on your mind.
That’s understandable. On vacation, not only does no one want to think about bad things that might happen… there’s usually so much excitement that it doesn’t even occur that there could be danger.
The good news is that overall cruising is a fairly safe activity. That’s not to say that it’s completely void of any danger. Injuries, sickness, and even deaths do occur, unfortunately. The good news the odds of something happening to you are low, and with a little bit of foresight, you can further reduce your chances of something bad happening and spoiling your vacation.
What you may not realize, however, is that much of the harm that can come to you on a cruise isn’t a major event like falling overboard (although it does happen). As with being on land, many of the injuries you might experience on a trip are much smaller, but still serious — things like slips and falls or dehydration.
Below, we’ve rounded up a number of must-have tips for staying safe and healthy on your next cruise. And while some of these items are major — including to never sit on a handrail — most of them are designed to help you from seeing smaller injuries that can still cause plenty of havoc on your vacation.
Wear Shoes and Sandals With Good Grip
On the ship, you’re likely to do quite a bit of walking on potentially slippery surfaces. From passing rain showers to deck cleaning to splashes by the pool, there are a lot of chances for puddles to form.
Of course, that means slips and falls are a potential danger. If you like wearing those cheap flip-flops that cost about $3 and quickly become smooth on the bottom, go ahead and toss them out before your cruise. Anything with a smooth sole makes it seem like ice skating when it gets west. Instead, invest in something with rubber grip that will help you have sure footing as you walk around the ship.
Keep Your Wits About You While You Drink
Drinking and cruising go hand in hand. But don’t use that as an excuse to get hammered and completely lose your wits. Lots of trouble can be had by having too much to drink — from becoming belligerent to falls on a rocking ship. If you plan to drink, it’s best to keep it moderate or at least have someone you trust to keep you in check while you have fun.
Know Where Life Jackets Are Located
The chances of you having to put on a life jacket while on a cruise are minimal. Still, it’s a good idea to know where they are located in your cabin. Most of the time they are found in your cabin closet. No need to actually take it out and try it on, but just be sure you know where to find it. If you are traveling with kids, also make sure that you have a kid-sized jacket in your room. If not, ask your cabin steward to provide one.
Know the Location of Your Muster Station
Before you set off from the pier, you’ll have to go through a muster drill. In this exercise, you head to your assigned meeting spot in case of an emergency. Your spot is determined beforehand and you should have the location noted on your keycard for the room. Even though the staff can assist you in locating your spot, it’s a good idea to remember where it is on the ship. You’ll want to be able to quickly find it in case of emergency.
Use the Handrails Around the Ship
There are lots of stairs to climb as you go around the cruise ship, but even on flat surfaces you’ll often find handrails — such as when you walk down hallways. These aren’t just for decoration. Handrails are important safety devices meant to keep you from falling. Even if you are sure-footed, a rocking ship can easily cause you to stumble and lose your balance. Use the handrails around the ship to help keep a fall from causing an injury.
Know That Ports of Call Aren’t a Theme Park
With the feel of the cruise ship — where everything revolves around the cruise passengers — and the port welcoming areas, it can seem like you are visiting a theme park built just for you. But stay aware that once you leave the port area, you are pretty much on your own. Petty crime does happen. And major accidents happen, even if you are on an excursion. If you do plan to adventure out on your own, use common sense. Don’t drink too much, travel with others, and don’t be flashy with money or jewelry.
Don’t Overexert Yourself
Climbing ancient ruins? Scuba diving? Snorkeling in choppy waters? There are plenty of ways for you to overexert yourself on a cruise — especially if it’s an activity you aren’t used to doing. You should also keep in mind that the heat and humidity of Caribbean ports can take some acclimation. It can quickly drain your energy and make it easier to suffer heat-related effects. Take it slow and be sure to drink plenty of water.
Never Sit on a Ship’s Railing
To most people it is common sense. But to others, it’s a thrill, or they simply do it without thinking. No matter the reason, never sit on the railing of the cruise ship. This includes your balcony or on the pool deck. Unfortunately, accidents do happen with passengers sitting on rails and then falling overboard. Once overboard, it’s rare that a person is ever found again.