Cruising for Disaster

A couple I’m friends with were booked to sail on the Costa Concordia in March.  Yes, the cruise ship you’ve no doubt seen photos and video of lying on its side in the Mediterranean Sea.

As regular cruisers, this accident did not make us afraid to cruise but we did have a conversation about being prepared when we set sail next time.   The passengers of the Concordia had 45 minutes or more to get to their cabins, retrieve their passports,  don warm clothes, practical shoes and their life jackets.  Yet many left the ship without documentation, money or cell phones.

If you are on a ship and THINK something is wrong – go to your cabin immediately and prepare.  Don’t wait for an alarm to sound – the crew of the Costa Concordia did not immediately alert passengers.  Better to learn it was nothing than to be caught unprepared in an actual emergency.

Even if the ship does not hold a safety drill, as soon as you get on board, note the location of the muster stations and exits nearest your cabin, dining room and nightclubs.  In your cabin, put on your life vest!  Getting comfortable with it and adjusting the straps when you have no pressure will likely help should you need to retrieve it for use in the dark or in distress.

To quote my friend, “If I have my passport and plastic, I can get home.”  Most travelers put their passports in the cabin safe and that is the best place for it.  At a travel show, my husband bought Shark Packs for us.  The waterproof pouch easily holds a couple of passports.  Add an extra credit card and leave it in the safe.

In most emergencies, you will have time to get it while you are getting your life jacket.  Tuck it securely inside your shirt (the Shark Pack comes with a neck strap) and under your life jacket. Proceed swiftly to the muster station and be ready to evacuate.

A couple of other things you can do include listing your location with the US State Department.  The website link and details are in my blog post linked here.

Scan your passport and save it as a PDF file.  Email it to your travel agent, a family member or trusted friend.  Save a copy on your cellphone as well.  Should you need to get a replacement issued by a local embassy the copy will make it faster and easier.

Remember, there are thousands of cruises every year and the number of disasters are few and far between.  None the less, a few simple steps as outlined here should give you some peace of mind to let you enjoy your well-deserved holiday on the high seas.

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One Response to “Cruising for Disaster”

  1. mbrixey Says:

    Great blog. We’re going on a cruise to Alaksa in August and I’m going to buy the Shark Packs. Thanks for sharing Sunny!

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