Cruise Ships and Safety

by Allison Wallace

With recent news of the Costa Concordia, some travellers have raised concerns about the safety of cruising. Despite the fact that cruise ships have a long history with an excellent safety record, it’s still a reminder that emergencies can, and do happen. So we’ve put together some cruise safety tips to ensure you have peace of mind before stepping aboard:

The sinking of the Costa Concordia off Italy’s west coast has raised concerns about the safety of cruise ships in general. Everyone saw the shocking Titanic-like pictures of the ship on its side, half-sunk, less than 200m from the shore. The ship was carrying over 4,000 passengers and tragically, more than a dozen people did not survive and several more are missing and presumed dead.

While the investigation is ongoing as to what exactly happened and who’s to blame, preliminary statements, including directly from Costa, blame “significant human error” on the part of the Captain and a breakdown in emergency procedures. But experts agree that overall cruise ships have a long history with an excellent safety record and that what happened on the Costa Concordia was an extremely rare event. Even in the instance where something has gone wrong, cruise ships are well equipped with life jackets, lifeboats, sophisticated navigation systems including radar and GPS, generators, pumps, and other emergency backup systems. Crew members attend regular emergency drills, lifeboat equipment is frequently tested, and fire detecting systems and smoke alarms are also checked on a regular basis. In addition, the design of the cruise ships themselves is such that their hulls are divided into watertight sections and will stay afloat even if more than one section is breached.

Cruising is one of the fastest growing sectors within the industry and with more than 15 million passengers boarding ships last year, you can certainly expect that every cruise ship company will be reviewing their practices and procedures following the Costa Concordia disaster. And you can bet there isn’t a safer time to cruise than right now. That being said, while the investigation of the Costa Concordia continues, it’s still a reminder that emergencies can, and do, happen. Nothing is more important than your safety and taking personal responsibility for that is essential with any manner of travel.

Cruise Safety Tips

1. Don’t skip the lifeboat drill and pay attention to all the safety information! These drills normally occur approximately 30 minutes prior to departure.

2. Make note of where your life jacket is located and practice putting it on so you know how to fasten it.

3. Locate the nearest fire alarm to your cabin and learn how to activate it.

4. Familiarize yourself with the nearest exits and stairwells from your cabin to your assigned lifeboat or “muster” station. This will be part of the drill mentioned above and will also be posted somewhere in your cabin.

5. Keep your passport, money, jewelry or any other valuables locked in your cabin safe.

6. As with any travel, use your common sense.

7. Buy Travel Insurance! Make sure you’re covered for medical emergencies and trip cancelation/interruption at the very least.


Looking for more information about cruising? Contact one of our cruise specialists who would be happy to answer any other questions you may have.


For more travel tips from Allison, follow her on Twitter and be sure to catch her on CTV BC every Tuesday at 5pm PST for her weekly travel tip segment.


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