9 Ways To Stay Safe On A Cruise

Cruise ships docked together in the Caribbean Sea

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Going on a cruise is a magical experience and statistically one of the safest forms of travel.

Cruising is a great adventure to undertake at least once, providing an opportunity to make lasting memories, enjoy a lively atmosphere, and breathe in the fresh saltwater air. However, it’s easy to get too caught up in the fun and festivities and neglect safety precautions.

Regardless of how you travel, there are always risks to be aware of in advance.

1. Personal Safety: Vaccines

While vaccinations are not always required before boarding a cruise ship, cruise lines and the CDC typically recommend travelers get vaccinated for the safety of themselves and others. However, each cruise line may have different guidelines and stipulations regarding vaccinations. For example, Carnival Cruises do not require passengers to get vaccinated if their trip is 15 nights or less, but passengers staying 16+ nights are required to be vaccinated and boosted. It is important to research a cruise’s guidelines before making final plans. Passengers should also be mindful of personal hygiene, such as washing their hands frequently, to prevent the spread of illness.

2. Property Safety: Protecting Your Belongings on the Ship

While most crimes on a cruise ship involve public intoxication, theft is still a possibility when bringing personal belongings into a public space. To prevent this, travelers should pack conservatively and avoid bringing large sums of cash. Investing in a reliable safe or using the ship’s safe can also provide extra security for valuable items such as jewelry.

3. Protection for Emergencies: Travel Insurance

Travel insurance can provide added peace of mind and a safety net during a cruise. These policies can cover a variety of potential risks, such as financial losses, stolen or damaged luggage, emergency medical evacuations, delays, interruptions, and cancellations. The cost and coverage of travel insurance can vary depending on the type of trip and how it is taken. Researching and committing to a policy that best fits your needs is a wise preparation step before embarking on a cruise.

4. Pests: How Cruise Lines Protect Passengers

Cruise lines take sanitation and pest control seriously in order to prevent the spread of disease and pests. This is especially important given the risk of pests being accidentally transported in ship cargo. To prevent pest infestations, passengers should practice good hygiene, such as regularly washing their hands, eat and sleep well to strengthen the immune system, clean up after themselves, and report pests to crew members.

5. Personal Safety: Physical Fitness for Excursions

Maintaining physical fitness is important for both safety and enjoyment during a cruise. Many cruise lines offer exercise and weight rooms for passengers to use. Staying in shape can strengthen the immune system, improve blood pressure, and decrease the risk of strokes and heart attacks. While cruise ships have medical centers, they may not always have access to medication or urgent care for serious or debilitating situations. Keeping in good physical health can ensure a safe trip and reduce the likelihood of becoming ill or injured.

6. Personal Safety: Familiarize Yourself with the Ship

Before embarking on a cruise, familiarize yourself with the layout of the ship and know the location of emergency exits, lifeboats, and other safety equipment. It is also important to attend the safety drills held on the ship before departure to ensure you know what to do in case of an emergency.

7. Property Safety: Use a Luggage Tag

Using a luggage tag can help ensure that your luggage is returned to you if it becomes lost or misplaced during the cruise. Use a tag with your name and contact information and make sure to attach it securely to your luggage.

8. Personal Safety: Alcohol Consumption

Alcohol is a big pull for adults on cruises, and is often included as part of the price of admission. However, like on land, alcohol has unavoidable consequences that put you and others at risk. Consuming too much alcohol causes immediate risks like illness or even alcohol poisoning. Drinking can also put you in vulnerable positions, making it easier for others to take advantage of you. However, even if you’re not keen on drinking alcohol, be wary of those drinking around you—there is the potential for increased violence, assault, argumentative behavior, etc. It is helpful to bring someone you trust with you to these occasions for an extra set of eyes.

9. Personal Safety: Follow the Itinerary

One of the most exciting parts of a cruise can be the excursions when the ship docks in a foreign locale. However, it is essential that you keep track of the itinerary so you don’t get left on one of these excursions. Neglecting to keep up with the crew’s time and ultimately being left behind is a worst-case scenario that nobody wants. It’s always safer to assume that the ship will not wait for you. Keep an eye out for the heaviest traffic hours and get there accordingly. If you’re unfamiliar with the ride to the port, try to leave early. However, if push comes to shove and the ship has sailed, try to call the following immediately: the cruise line’s customer service number, your country’s embassy (if you’re out of the country visiting), emergency contacts, and your travel insurance company if you have a policy.


Cruise ships are essentially hotels in the ocean with more access to food, drinks, festivities, parties, and mingling. Despite how safe cruising is in the broad scheme of traveling, keeping these tips in mind before planning on a luxurious trip amongst the waves will give you peace of mind and a safe experience.

Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster
Jeremy Scott Foster is an adventure-junkie, gear expert and travel photographer based in Southern California. Previously nomadic, he’s been to ~50 countries and loves spending time outdoors. You can usually find him on the trail, on the road, jumping from bridges or hustling on his laptop working to produce the best travel and outdoors content today.

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