Are Cruises Safe? (And How to Make Them Safer)

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The past three years have been rough on both the cruise industry, and those who prefer to take their vacation at sea. Between virus outbreaks canceling departures, canceled ventures to ports of call, and weather causing ships to navigate rough seas, some travelers are left wondering: “Are cruises safe?” 

Making matters worse is the case of the passenger who fell off a cruise liner off the coast of New Orleans in November 2022 – and survived! According to a news release from the U.S. Coast Guard, the passenger was found after being reported missing from the ship with the help of response crews and other ships in the area. 

With so much going on in the world, are cruises safe? More importantly, how can travelers protect themselves from the worst possible outcome while at sea? Do travelers really need to buy cruise travel insurance before they depart? The good news is that cruises have never been safer, and all it takes to stay out of harm’s way is common sense. Here’s why cruises are overall a safe vacation, and tips on how to make them even safer.  

Is it Safe to Take a Cruise? 

Although headlines like the one above make vacations at sea sound a little dangerous, it is still safe to take a cruise. Over the past decade, the cruise industry has worked to improve on-ship safety, ranging from improved cleanliness standards to mechanical issues. 

According to a GP Wild survey commissioned by the Cruise Line Industry Association, cruise capacity increased by 68% between 2009 and 2019. Despite having more people on the seas, the rate of man overboard incidents decreased by 35%, while operational incidents trended downward 37%. 

Another GP Wild survey shows that the odds of getting injured or killed aboard a cruise are significantly low. Between 2009 and 2013, only 80 people died as a result of a man overboard incident, while another 50 passengers were killed in other operational incidents worldwide. Considering over 20 million people chose to take a cruise vacation annually before the pandemic, the odds of falling overboard on a cruise are around 0.00000008%.  

Tips to Make Cruises Safer

On the whole, taking a cruise is a very safe way to vacation, giving you a choice of activities aboard a floating city and a taste of unique cultures at multiple ports-of-call. But it doesn’t mean that your odds of getting injured, sick, or worse are zero. As with every vacation, it’s key to stay vigilant to even the smallest risks. Here are four practical tips to help you stay safe aboard a cruise. 

Practice the “Buddy System” 

Always keep in touch with travel companions about daily plans and activities, especially when they change. If something goes wrong and your friends can’t find you, they can quickly alert cruise staff that you may be missing, increasing your chances of being found.

Limit alcohol consumption

Many cruise lines offer travelers daily drink packages, encouraging travelers to eat, drink, and be merry on their cruise. However, most travel insurance policies will not cover injuries that occur while a traveler is under the influence. One key to being safe is knowing your limits and drinking in moderation. 

Be prepared for crowded spaces

With more travelers booking cruise vacations, ships are getting more crowded – which could result in the spread of viruses or other illnesses. Travelers should be prepared to practice care while aboard ships. 

Understand your travel insurance benefits

The right cruise travel insurance plan can help travelers navigate the worst situations aboard a cruise ship. Most cruise plans include Emergency Medical coverage, which may reimburse travelers for expenses incurred as the result of an illness or injury. If a doctor orders an emergency evacuation from the ship, the right plan can help travelers arrange and pay for the transport. We recommend cruisers get a plan with at least $100,000 in Emergency Medical coverage and $250,000 in Emergency Medical Evacuation benefits. 

Stay Safe on a Cruise with the Right Travel Insurance Plan

Cruise safety begins by being smart. By understanding the risks and avoiding the common mistakes cruise travelers make, you can ensure you leave the ship with only great memories of vacation. 
Getting the right travel insurance plan can also help travelers stay safe when the worst happens. Before you embark for the seas, be sure to get a travel insurance quote and shop for the right plan offering the benefits you need at a price that fits your budget.