All it takes is a bad headline or two.  A man disappears from a cruise on his honeymoon.  A fire breaks out in a ship’s engine room. Hundreds fall ill on board because of an outbreak of Norovirus.  One negative news story and people get concerned.

The truth is, more than 12 million people go on cruises every year, and considering only a handful of incidents ever make the headlines, it is actually a very safe way to travel.

But your best protection comes from being smart when it comes to your health and your personal safety, so here are some steps to take to make sure you have peace of mind throughout your cruise vacation.

Keeping Yourself Safe At Sea

The same common sense that you would use in a strange city also applies on a cruise ship.  Don’t allow anyone into your cabin unless you know them.  Don’t walk around at night by yourself.  Don’t go onshore alone.  Travel in groups. Cruises can actually be safer than hotels, because access is restricted with security getting on and off the ship, but don’t push your luck.

There are some special precautions you should keep in mind while you’re at sea.  It seems obvious, but avoid climbing the guardrails, especially if you’ve had a bit too much to drink.  Ships are built to prevent you from falling overboard, but you should keep an eye on children who might like to climb.

Stay aware of your surroundings, both at sea and in port.  There is safety in numbers, and while traveling in a pack may seem annoying, it does tend to keep you safe. If someone or something seems suspicious, report it immediately to the Purser’s Office, local police or your tour guide.

Don’t bring a purse or a wallet on shore excursions, keep your valuables in cut-proof bags, or fanny packs. Don’t flash your Rolex or traveler checks around.  Don’t talk about your finances.

If you’re concerned about theft, there are a number of simple and inexpensive security devices you can bring along with you. For security in your room, store your important papers and extra money in the room safe, and bring along a cheap door alarm from home.  If you have valuable jewelery, you may want to keep it in the ship’s safe.

Pay attention to all safety information, and make sure to attend any muster drills.  Look and listen to instructions. Know what you will be expected to do in case of an emergency.

When it comes to your health, Norovirus can be nasty, but cruise ships are doing everything they can to avoid outbreaks of bad health.  Wash your hands often, bring along water purification or filtration devices if you want, and plenty of hand sanitizer is always a good idea.

Realistically, you’re more likely to get sea sick, and there are lots of simple treatments for that, from anti-nausea pills or gum, to patches you can put behind your ear, or even acupressure bracelets that can ease the symptoms.  If you’re concerned about seasickness, talk to your doctor before you leave home.

Cruising is a safe way to travel.  Statistics from 2007 show that the number of serious incidents reported on cruise ships represent less than 0.01 per cent of passengers.  But bad things can happen, so you do need to be aware.

The most important thing to remember is that your personal safety, no matter where you are, is always your responsibility.  A little thought and a little awareness will go a long way to making sure your cruise vacation is remembered for all the right reasons.

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