Several weeks ago my family participated in a one-night promotional tour on the Navigator of the Seas, a huge Royal Caribbean cruise ship. The cruise was all too brief, but it provided a chance for me to check out safety features typical on most, or all, cruise ships and discover one very, very good reason why a cruise is definitely a place for a Survival Mom and her family.
Evaluating cruise ship safety is a smart thing to do if you’re planning on a cruise vacation.
Flu outbreaks on a ship
I know there are occasional reports of cruise ship flu outbreaks. It’s usually the norovirus that spreads and affects crew members and passengers alike. Any illness while on vacation is made worse because you’re not surrounded by the comforts of your own home. Been there, done that.
Most of these large ships carry more than 3,000 people on a typical voyage. If 100 passengers get sick, that’s only 3% of the entire population aboard ship. The average high school population is around 700. If 25 kids, 3.5% of the student body, came down with a flu bug, it wouldn’t even raise an eyebrow, but somehow on a ship, that same percentage qualifies as a scary headline on the Drudge Report.
How many people come down with a virus after visiting Disneyland, a mall, or a water park? Those numbers are unknown but could easily be higher.
While we were on the Navigator, and on a longer cruise last year, there were hand sanitizing stations everywhere. In fact, we couldn’t enter the dining room until we had sanitized our hands! Royal Caribbean, as well as other cruise lines, I’m sure, fear the negative publicity that a flu outbreak brings and do everything they can to make sure passengers stay healthy.
The flu, or any other sickness, can happen on board a ship. If you’re headed out on a cruise, I recommend bringing a long a package of Clorox wipes for a quick wipe-down of your cabin when you first arrive. If possible, avoid the most crowded areas of a ship when you can, such as the casino.
People falling overboard! Oh no!
I’ve read the headlines, too, of passengers falling overboard, their bodies never recovered. I’ve been on 3 cruises and have no idea how someone can fall overboard unless they jump overboard on purpose, are pushed, or are doing something really stupid. And, doesn’t that pretty much describe how any serious injury or death occurs anywhere, not just on a ship?
If someone determines to end their life, they’ll find a way to do it. If someone decides to kill another person, pushing them overboard is just one of many, many options, and if a person is determined to do something stupid, especially while intoxicated, then it doesn’t matter where they are. They’re going to get hurt or killed.
On a cruise ship, there is a rail 48″ tall around all decks, and on many decks there is also a clear barrier of thick laminated safety glass. It wouldn’t be impossible to climb over the railing and glass barrier, but it would be difficult.
What would be more likely is falling down a flight of stairs or slipping in a puddle of water by the pool. Avoiding these accidents is just a matter of common sense.
You should also know that before any ship leaves port, every single passenger has to report to their assigned muster station for a safety drill. The crew members are very well trained in safety procedures and they make sure everyone knows where to find their assigned lifeboat and how to put on and activate a life preserver.
What about the Carnival Triumph?
There are dozens of different cruise lines and hundreds of cruise ships that set sail every week around the world. The Carnival Triumph was just one of those.
It made headlines, for sure, with its damaged engines and stories of poo in the hallways, but most passengers reported that conditions were bearable and that the crew went above and beyond in their efforts to keep passengers comfortable.
Even a single negative headline can affect a cruise line for months, if not years. Following the incident on the Triumph, Carnival invested $300 million in new and upgraded safety features.
Safety concerns aside, here’s my One Big Reason to go on a cruise
While we were on the Navigator of the Seas a few weeks ago, my family stood at the (very tall, very safe!) railing. We were miles from shore and all we could see was the ocean. It occurred to me that most people never have that experience — being out on the ocean surrounded by nothing but water. Unless you join the Navy and are assigned ship duty, you’ll never know what it’s like, never be able to truly understand just how big The Big Blue really is.
Maybe that’s a silly reason for going on a cruise, but it’s a unique experience that can’t be duplicated by even the best 3-D IMAX movie!
For a list of preparedness and safety tips for a cruise, read this.
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