Safety at Sea

Anyone following the news today cannot help but wonder how safe you are on a cruiseship. Almost weekly we see headlines and news stories concerning cruise ship fires, sexual assaults, misconduct, and even kidnapping and murder! Is this what cruising has become? Well no, not really. While the news media is "technically" telling the truth, there is certainly a great deal of embellishment, hypothesizing and omission of some very important facts.

For example, much has been made over the fires on some of the Carnival ships. While it is true that fire is a ship's worst nightmare, it is important to note that there were no injuries in any of these fires and that the crew was able to extinguish these fires well before it was necessary to "man the lifeboats."

Statistically ships are safer than hotels when it comes to fire. All cruise ships carry a team of dedicated fire-fighters, and additionally, all ship's personnel are trained in shipboard fires and undergo training and drills regularly. In the unlikely event of a dangerous fire , passengers are loaded into lifeboats to await a rescue ship which in most cases arrives within a matter of hours. It is the passenger's responsibility to pay attention to the lifeboat drill when boarding and to know their muster station. When passengers follow instructions and remain calm everything works well.

Now lets discuss recent reports of sexual assaults. Do rapes occur? Probably, rape occurs almost everywhere. To help protect yourself don't invite anyone to your cabin, especially if you have been drinking. Do sexual assaults take place in resorts and hotels? Certainly. There have been many civil and criminal cases where someone was found guilty of this behavior. Statistically, ships are safer when it comes to assaults.

The cruise lines have taken many steps over the years to help ensure the safety of their passengers, including strict rules for the crew about fraternizing with passengers only in acceptable ways, and adding safety officers and security guards to ships in uniform and in plain clothes. It is a sad and unfortunate fact that crime cannot be completely prevented, but the cruise lines do deserve credit for their recognition and concern for the problem and for cooperating with shore-side authorities such as the FBI when arrests and investigations are necessary.

Lets move on to robbery. To the best of my knowledge it has never happened onboard a ship. There is no place for the suspect to run! There are instances of items stolen from guests which is, unfortunately, common everywhere. It is seldom that a crewman is involved as they simply do not wish to risk their job. Most likely it would be a fellow passenger. The best way to prevent this is to use common sense and not make it easy for the thief. Onshore, be wary of pickpockets, never let anyone get directly behind you. Stay in well traveled and lighted areas. Never allow anyone to lead you to an area so that they can tell you or show you something in private. Walk as close to the street as possible and not right next to doorways and alleys. Just use good common sense and be aware of your surroundings. Again, this is when you are on land so....statistically you are much safer onboard a ship.

Kidnapping and murder. Has this ever really occurred? It has never been proven that anyone has ever been kidnapped from a ship or murdered. Is it possible? Well, anything is possible I guess. There have been people who have gone missing while onboard a cruiseship, yet while I have the greatest of sympathy for the loss of these people and towards their loved ones, kidnapping just isn't a very like scenario. It is most likely that these people either fell overboard, or jumped overboard.

We have all heard of the man who was drunk and relieving himself off the railing when he fell overboard (he survived). With all the people that travel on cruiseships it is a wonder that there aren't more accidents from these daring folks that have a lapse of common sense. It was just last week that a 22 yr old crewman on a ship jumped overboard to purposely end his life. The reasons why are not necessary for us to know, just know that it does sometimes happen. Anyone wish to make a statement about how many lives are lost to people that are attacked and robbed and even murdered in hotel rooms? How about the number of people that fall from their balconies to their death. It happens every year in Daytona Beach, Fla. during spring break no matter how hard the hostelers try to prevent vacationers from bringing harm to themselves. Statistically, cruiseships are safer than hotels and resorts.

To sum it all up, this world is not always safe no matter where you are, including your own home. Cruiseships have an excellent safety record and have proven to be one of the safest and most affordable vacations one can have. So go and enjoy. Treat yourself to one of the most memorable times of your life, go cruising.

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