How to stay safe on a cruise ship

More Australians take cruise holidays per capita than any other nationality and, according to the Cruise Industry Association’s 2017 Outlook, passenger numbers are increasing year on year. Joel Katz, Managing Director of Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA) Australasia answers questions about staying safe on the high seas.

Should first timers be concerned about safety on a cruise?

Not at all. There is a detailed safety drill prior to every departure that covers all protocol and procedure. Cruising is extremely safe and one of the safest among all comparable forms of travel.

How do passengers keep passports, money and valuables safe and secure on board?

Most ships offer safes in their cabins so once on board guests can secure valuables such as passports - just as you would in a hotel.

What measures are in place to make sure guests aren't left behind at a port of call?

Cruise ships use sophisticated passenger identification systems, which means each guest receives a unique cruise card when they board. The card is used for purchases on-board so there’s no need to carry cash around, but it’s also scanned every time a guest disembarks or embarks their ship in a port of call. Each time a ship visits a port, guests are clearly informed what time they need to return. If guests are on a cruise line-organised tour which is delayed, their ship will wait for them or make alternate arrangements.

What steps are taken to protect against crime? Is there security on board?

Across the board, cruise ships have strict rules on appropriate behaviour and carry trained security professionals whose job it is to ensure the safety and wellbeing of all guests. While crimes at sea are rare, cruise ships have a host of measures in place to reduce risk, including baggage screening, security checkpoints and on-board video surveillance. Any alleged crimes are reported to the appropriate law enforcement authorities.

Are there standards around alcohol consumption?

Ships based in Australia follow the same Responsible Service of Alcohol rules that apply on land. Alcohol can only be served to guests aged 18 and over on Australian ships, while on US ships the age limit is 21 years and over.

Are there safety precautions people should be aware of if enjoying the view from a private balcony cabin?

An increasing number of cruise ships offer balcony staterooms so guests can enjoy the serenity of the ocean and fantastic views from the privacy of their room. The railings on all CLIA member lines must meet or exceed national and international regulations to maximise safety. Being on a veranda on a ship is no different to being on a veranda on a building. Guests are advised not to sit on railings and to apply the same safe practices they would on land.

How can parents best keep their children safe?

Many cruise lines offer fantastic kids club facilities, supervised by approved child care staff, and with kids signed in and out by their parents every time they visit. Many cruise lines provide walkie talkies so families can stay in touch throughout the day, while many are also utilising phone-based apps that operate off the ship’s internet without requiring Wi-Fi, providing the perfect way for friends and family to stay in contact.

What happens if a guest is sick or has a medical emergency on board?

Modern cruise ships have sophisticated medical centres, staffed by trained doctors and nurses so there is always emergency medical support at hand if needed.

How necessary is travel insurance for cruise safety?

Travel insurance is as essential for a cruise as it is for any travel. Medicare does not apply on cruise ships, even on domestic cruises, which is why travel insurance is an imperative. Make sure you’ve got the right level of cover for your cruise trip.

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