Afraid to Cruise? What Are The Real Dangers at Sea?

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a ship in the water at night

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Are you one of the more than 25 million adults in the US who suffer from aerophobia, or fear of flying? What about naviphobia? What’s that, you ask? It is the fear of boats and cruise ships. While statistics easily show that driving is far more dangerous than either flying commercially or cruising, how safe are cruise ships really? What are the real dangers of cruising to consider?

Wet floor warning vector sign isolated on white background. (©iStock.com/art-sonik)
(©iStock.com/art-sonik)

Slip and Fall Accidents

We’ve already discussed the danger of falling overboard from a cruise ship. Whether is the result of wet and slippery surfaces, luggage in hallways, or the motion of the ship the most common injuries onboard result from these types of accidents. So as you hear repeatedly in onboard announcements, watch your step and use the handrails on stairways.

a man and woman wearing masks

Illnesses

When you have a large number of people occupying a relatively small space together it’s inevitable that someone will either knowingly or unknowingly come onboard with some sort of illness. Also common onboard are food borne illnesses resulting either from a failure to follow food safety standards or failing to observe food allergies of guests. You can be prepared for this by always bringing along over the counter medications to help in case you become ill while onboard.

Parasailing boat ride. Extreme fun activity on the sea for people. (©iStock.com/valio84sl)
(©iStock.com/valio84sl)

Activity Injuries

Excursions provide opportunities to participate in all sorts of fun activities like zip-lining, parasailing, snorkeling, and hiking. It is the wise guest who knows their own abilities and limitations and plans activities accordingly. I have seen everything from severe burns on the feet of a guest participating in a poolside contest barefoot to a gentleman who slipped off the curb getting into a taxi and required several stitches on his leg as a result. Be aware and follow the safety instructions whatever you choose to do onboard!

a group of people on a dock with a blue tent

Tenders and Lifeboats

When a port does not have adequate docking facilities cruise ships often use either a private tendering service or the ship’s own lifeboats as we have previously discussed. Getting on and off of these smaller boats can be precarious as both are moving with the movement of the water. It’s usually best to have both your hands free in order to use the hand rails and safety bars as well as assistance from crew while maneuvering these transfers. Also consider your footwear so as not to slip as a result of losing a shoe.

Small paper ship floating on water. Fire on the boat. Origami paper boat sailing on river with ripple (©iStock.com/art-sonik)
(©iStock.com/art-sonik)

Fire

This is the greatest danger onboard a ship and while a more rare occurrence than some of the other dangers we’ve mentioned, fires at sea do happen. This is why guests are constantly reminded of this risk and cautioned against smoking anywhere other than in a designated smoking area. Even then guests must be very careful to fully extinguish smoking materials and NEVER throw cigarettes overboard.

Sinking ship silhouette icon. Ship in a collision.
(©iStock.com/illust-monster)

Collisions

We all remember the Costa Concordia and the horrifying sight of the ship lying almost fully on its side. Of the total of 4,229 passengers and crew onboard, 32 lost their lives in that terrible disaster. More recently we have seen ships run into each other or ports when high winds interfered with the maneuvering of the ship. These events are not common but when they do happen they often result in significant numbers of injuries and sometimes deaths.

Assault by a Passenger or Crew Member

Alcohol often flows freely onboard a cruise ship, and some guests often have too much to drink. Some people tend to get violent when they drink and this can result in arguments escalating to the point of physical assault. An inebriated passenger can also fall victim to sexual assault. The best way to protect yourself from this kind of danger is to be aware of both your own drinking and your surroundings. If you find yourself in a situation that is becoming uncomfortable, remove yourself from it as quickly as possible.

Pirate skull
(©iStock.com/Barks_japan)

Modern Pirates

These are not your romanticized version of pirates that Hollywood presents to us. Modern piracy is, unfortunately, a very real threat mostly to oil tankers and cargo vessels (think Maersk Alabama and Captain Richard Phillips) cruise ships have also been targets of pirates.

So, did this help reduce your anxiety about cruising or have I given you more to worry about? Did I miss anything you particularly fear when it comes to cruising? Let us know in the comments below! – René

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1 COMMENT

  1. Come on Rene. Stop downplaying the dangers at sea. You can fall overboard and be eaten by herds of wild squid. You might be attacked by packs of marauding sharks or pods of whales. The ship might spring a giant leak and sink rapidly. A random escapee from Azkaban might attack. Cthulu might be in the area.

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