Sometimes, it seems hardly a week goes by without some negative publicity surrounding a cruise ship. Consumers hear about people falling overboard, getting robbed on an excursion, or experiencing some kind of safety-related incident. But cruise vacations generally are quite safe. Think about it this way: In contemporary cruising, where ships typically carry 3,000 to 5,000 passengers, the vessels are a lot like small cities -- where there are thousands of people, there's bound to be crime, but chances are it won’t happen to you.
Still, we understand where people might be worried, and when traveling it’s always good to have safety be top of mind. Consider these seven guidelines to help make your cruise vacation safe as well as fun.
1. Keep mum. Avoid talking with others about your finances in public areas. Doing so could provide a criminal with information that may prompt a cabin break-in.
2. If you've got it, don't flaunt it. Many vacationers like to dress up with expensive accessories such as jewelry. It's part of the fun, especially on formal nights, but it's best to leave your most expensive jewels (or those that have great sentimental value) at home. And it might not be a criminal act that causes a cruiser to lose something; a piece of jewelry could fall off in the disco or get lost during a shore excursion.
3. Lock it up. Every cabin aboard every cruise ship has a safe. Use it to store jewelry, cash, credit cards, and important travel documents.
4. Lock the doors. Each time a cruiser enters his or her cabin, the door should be locked from the inside. In balcony rooms, don’t forget that there’s an additional point of entry to the stateroom. If you’re not actually on the balcony, those doors should also be secured and locked, even if you’re inside the cabin.
5. Find safety in numbers. Avoid walking alone on any outdoor deck at night. Crime aside, the deck might have been recently hosed down and could be slippery. This advice goes double for those who have enjoyed a few drinks.
6. Go hands-free. Consider leaving handbags onboard when you're leaving for a shore excursion, since purse snatchings can be common in some cities and ports, in both the Caribbean and in Europe. Just take what you need -- you can learn more about your destination from the ship's daily newsletter -- using pockets to hold your shipboard identification card and any cash you might spend.
7. Protect others. If you're traveling with youngsters, they’ll likely want to be out on their own enjoying the structured, supervised tween and teen programs most ships offer. Still, bear in mind that these programs often run late, close to midnight in some cases. Make arrangements for children to be escorted back to the cabin, or meet them yourself, when the evening's festivities are over.