It’s true that one of the most common questions asked by cruise-goers (particularly first-timers) is whether or not a cruise ship is safe. Don’t worry if this has crossed your mind too, because it’s a perfectly normal concern to have, especially if this isn’t the type of holiday you are accustomed to. If you and your family are hoping for a fun-filled and memorable holiday, it’s only natural to want to know that there are health and safety regulations in place to ensure that your journey is as safe as possible. You can find out about some of the core safety practices carried out by cruise lines in the following information.
SAFETY DURING EMBARKATION
Every cruise line will have varying procedures when it comes to health and safety onboard, but it’s important to note one thing they all have in common is embarkation safety drills. Once you board your ship - and even prior to this in some cases - you will receive a booklet informing you about safety onboard and what to do in the event of an emergency.
You’ll often have to take part in a health and safety drill, sometimes called a muster drill. This is designed to make guests aware of the safety measures each ship adheres to should an emergency occur. It will demonstrate the basic safety procedures so every passenger - and crew member - are fully prepared. Make sure you are aware of the exact time the drill is to take place and remember that the drill is mandatory and the presentation will not start until every guest is in attendance (this is tracked by security staff scanning your cruise card – they can see who’s missing and they will come and find you).
MEDICAL FACILITIES ONBOARD
When planning your cruise ship holiday, it’s easy to get distracted by the amazing destinations you’ll get to explore and the excursions you can take part in. However, it’s crucial to keep in mind your health and what to do should you need any medical assistance.
Cruise lines are equipped with medical centres onboard, which are staffed by qualified doctors and nurses. Should you need any kind of medical attention whilst onboard, you can visit the medical centre which will be open 24 hours a day to cater to all guests and crew members.
The exact facilities in the medical centre will vary from ship to ship and generally speaking, larger ships tend to have larger medical centres capable of carrying more equipment. This is usually because larger ships carry more people and so medical centres need to accommodate for everyone onboard. Furthermore, cruise ships can tend to minor problems but more severe cases may need extra attention and passengers could be stabilised until they can be transferred to a more suitable facility in port.
It’s also worth noting that whislt some ship do have a pharmacy onboard, these are generally for over the counter solutions and if you require regular medication you should ensure you bring the required dosage you’ll need for the duration of your holiday.
If you require seasickness tablets whilst on your cruise, most members of staff have access to them, but we’d recommend visiting the medical centre to check that the tablets are suitable for you.
STAFF AND SAFETY
Every crew member will undergo regular and advanced safety training including how to use a lifeboat and how to react in an emergency situation, so that they can assist passengers in the quickest and most efficient way possible. Cruise lines also employ security officers, who are there to provide reassurance that the cruise line is alert to potential dangers and have qualified people on-hand should an incident occur onboard. Each cruise ship should be staffed with a Safety Officer. It’s this person’s role to ensure that all safety regulations are upheld by the rest of the staff onboard. MSC cruise line for example will conduct a general emergency drill with fire simulation and evacuation, including an abandon ship drill with lifeboats every week.
CHILDREN AND SAFETY
Even though cruise ships are only so big, with only a certain number of places to go onboard, we recommend escorting your children around onboard. This includes dropping them off and picking them up from the kid’s clubs and being aware of their whereabouts whilst on the open areas of the ship.
BASIC SAFETY TIPS
- Familiarise yourself with your ship’s report card - As cruise ships expand and more people and facilities are allowed onboard, it’s vital that the ship itself is in fantastic condition. For example, vessel sanitation programmes routinely check the cleanliness, repair, food preparation and storage, water quality, hygiene, pest management and many other things that need regular maintenance to ensure that everything meets regulation standards.
- Be aware of your surroundings - If you enjoy drinking whilst on holiday, be aware that during rough weather the ship can sway slightly, this can affect your balance more than usual if you’ve consumed alcohol. To avoid any tumbles or falls we’d recommend using the lifts rather than the stairs and taking extra care if you plan to go to any of the outside areas of the ship.
- Storing your medication - Nobody knows better than you how to take care of your medication. Most ships have fridges should you need to keep your medication cool, as well as safes if you want to ensure that it is kept out of reach by others. If you have medication that you may need in an emergency such as an Epi Pen or Asthma Inhaler and you do plan to store them in your cabin, make sure that the person/people you are travelling with know how to access your medication so that they can quickly reach it for you should you need it.
- Wear medical ID bracelets and necklaces - If you have a condition which sometimes causes you to have seizures or moments of temporary immobility where you are unable to communicate your condition to those around you, we’d suggest wearing a visible medical ID bracelet or necklace. If you happen to slip into a state of unconscious, this ID can help those around you to identify how they can best help you should such an event occur.
- Find your nearest emergency exit - Wherever you are on the ship, particularly in your cabin, ensure you know your nearest route to your muster station. Most cruise ships now store safety jackets at the muster station, knowing that in the event of an emergency you may not have time to go back to your cabin. It’s worth carrying a map of the ship in your pocket and familiarising yourself with the map on the back of your cabin door which marks your nearest safety exit.