"" Writer's Wanderings: Safety at Sea--Tips For Cruisers

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Safety at Sea--Tips For Cruisers

Almost a week ago, people were arriving to embark on an exciting Mediterranean cruise on board the Costa Concordia. Unfortunately the excitement came in the form of disaster as the ship hit a rock shelf that tore a hole in its side. Most of the over 4,000 passengers and crew on the ship made it safely to land overcoming a catastrophe that could have been of "titanic" proportions.

With fifty cruises under our belts, we have never experienced the need to muster although we have had a couple of moments that made us take notice. (One in the middle of the Tasman Sea when power went out in half the ship.) So what do you do to make yourself a little safer on a ship should an emergency happen. Here are a few suggestions:

1. Life jackets used to be set on the bed upon arrival in your stateroom. Now that they are not always required to be worn during the muster drill (too many people tripped on dangling ties after the drill, I suspect) the life jackets are often stowed under a bed or in the top of a closet. Upon arrival in your stateroom, check to be sure you know where they are and that there are enough for all in your room. Child sized life jackets should be requested immediately from the staff if you are traveling with children.

2. Be sure your life jacket fits and has the whistle and torch (small light) attached.

3. Check the back of the door to your stateroom to learn where your muster station is. It will be down/up the closest stairwell to your room and on the deck where the lifeboats are located--usually the Promenade Deck.

4. Take the time to explore the ship before it leaves port. Find your muster station if you haven't already and then get a general feel for where it is in relationship to other parts of the ship where you will be spending your time. This isn't as hard as it may seem even on large ships like the Oasis of the Seas. Most of the time ships are laid out very simply--dining is aft, entertainment center and forward. Decks for entertainment, main dining, and shopping are usually mid-level and of course poolside is near the top with other sporting venues. Having an idea in your head of where you are in relation to your room and/or muster station is a plus.

5. Set an example at muster drill by staying quiet and attentive. Yes, we all do get tired of hearing the same instructions--how many of us ignore the plane safety video? (At least on a plane most check for the nearest exit before take-off.) But there will be some who are on their very first cruise and need to know the basic safety instructions. This is not just a traditional part of your cruise with a photo-op. It is for everyone's safety.

6. Relax and enjoy your cruise. When you consider how many cruises are taken on a yearly basis and the incidence of extreme emergencies or disasters like that of the Costa Concordia, cruising, like flying, is very safe. Like any other mode of travel, use common sense.

If you have any other safety suggestions, please share them in the comments section. Happy cruising!

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