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Posts Tagged ‘Costa Concordia’

Tips for how to cruise safely

Any time there’s a travel disaster, the instinctive human response is to avoid that method of travel. This is a process known as cognitive dissonance, where humans have two conflicting viewpoints — we know travel is safe, but we worry because of the most recent disaster.

We wrote about this last year when we put together an infographic titled, “Is it safe to fly this holiday season?” Anyone who’s concerned about taking a cruise because of the explosion of news coverage around the Costa Concordia disaster should really take a second look at that infographic.

The reality is, you’re more likely to die driving your car to work then you are flying or taking a cruise.

Despite the fact that cruises are mostly safe, accidents that sometimes lead to tragic events can happen to anyone at any time. I thought Wendy Perrin’s list of cruise safety tips was excellent, which is what I wrote in the comment I left. I also plan to include her list in the documents we give to all cruise travelers. After you’re finished reading my tips for cruise safety, click over to Wendy’s post to read hers, because I think they’re really helpful.

Cruise safety tip #1: Talk about scenarios with your family. When was the last time you practiced a fire drill at home? Probably not recently. It’s the same idea with cruise safety — it’s better to be prepared before something bad happens. It’s good to know how to find the muster stations, but also talk to your family members about how your family will handle an emergency. If members are separated from each other and an emergency occurs, everyone should head to a previously decided upon muster station and meet up there. Trying to find your entire party before heading to the muster station can waste valuable time.

Cruise safety tip #2: Carry your cell phone. Most of the time, I tell travelers to unplug from their electronics while on vacation to enjoy the once-in-a-lifetime sights around them. But, in the interest of safety, it might be best to keep that cell phone on your person. You can turn it off and keep it in your pocket or backpack, but you’ll have it with you in case of emergencies. Although cell phones don’t get reception while in deep water, the Costa Concordia disaster took place right on the coast of Italy, where it’s possible to get reception.

Cruise safety tip #3: Have portable FM radios. Having your cell phone on hand is important, but it’s also a good idea to carry a small FM radio or walkie-talkie, because cell phones aren’t close enough to cell towers to work in the middle of the ocean. Your family can use them to communicate while on board, and if you need them in an emergency, they’ll be there. Remember to put fresh batteries in them every morning and you’ll be good to go all day.

Cruise safety tip #4: Enjoy your cruise. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: You’re more likely to get struck by lightning (about 40 people per year) than be killed on a cruise. So follow procedures, be aware of your surroundings, and then enjoy the vacation you’ve worked hard to take. Don’t spend your entire vacation worrying about what might happen. Instead, take the time to appreciate the wonderful places you’ll see, people you’ll meet, and the experiences you’re having.

Alright, what did I miss in this list? Anything that you would add? Tell me in a comment!

Costa Concordia: What does it mean for you and cruising?

The tragedy of the crashing of the Costa Concordia on the coast of Italy has been front page news for over a week now. This has been perhaps the most deadly cruise disaster since the sinking of the Titanic.

There have been 16 confirmed deaths so far and even one death is one too many. There’s no excuse for the cruise captain’s negligence. I’ve been getting a lot of questions about the disaster and what it will mean for the future of cruising. I answered some of them when I was interviewed by the Los Angeles Times about how the Costa Concordia incident will affect the travel industry, but I wanted to expand upon those answers here.

Q: How will the Costa Concordia incident affect the future of the cruise industry?
A: Although the incident might not deter avid cruisers, other vacationers might avoid cruising for some time. Incidents like this are rare in the industry, and all eyes will be on the cruise liners to see how they handle this and implement changes to improve passenger safety. Officials are reporting that this incident was most likely due to a misjudgment on the part of cruise captain. I predict cruise liners will be closely scrutinizing safety protocols and will be filling any potential gaps they see to ensure the utmost safety of their passengers.

Q: Does Friendly Planet Travel have any travelers booked on the Costa Concordia?
A: Friendly Planet Travel hasn’t sold any trips on Costa Cruises for a few years now. However, we do offer cruises on various cruise lines owned by Costa’s parent company, Carnival Corporation. Among the Carnival-owned cruise lines that we offer are Carnival, NCL, Royal Caribbean Lines, Celebrity, and Azamara.

Q: Should I cancel my cruise booking because of the Costa Concordia?
A: Avoid the urge to cancel a cruise you have booked because of this incident. Cruises are historically safe — safer than driving a car. The U.N.-affiliated International Maritime Organization lists 38 incidents involving passenger ships since 2005 in which more than 60 people died. Compare that to car travel, in which more than 100 people die per day. You have a better chance at getting struck by lightening — about 40 people die every year from lightening strikes, according to the National Weather Service. No one has called Friendly Planet Travel to cancel an existing cruise booking. Right now, Carnival Corporation and nine leading cruise lines around the world have announced a comprehensive audit and review of all safety and emergency response procedures, so they’re taking extra precautions to ensure this doesn’t happen again.

Q. What can I do to be a better-prepared cruise passenger?
A: The very best thing that travelers can do is prepare themselves for various scenarios while on a cruise ship. This includes finding out where you should go on the ship in the event of an emergency, determining the location of life boats, and discovering the storage spots of extra life jackets and other supplies. Wendy Perrin, writer of the Perrin Post on Condé Nast Traveler, recently published a comprehensive list of things that travelers can do to prepare themselves while cruising. I suggest that anyone planning to cruise check out Wendy’s tips.

If you have any more questions about cruising, please feel free to leave a comment here and I’ll do my best to answer it for you.

About Peggy

Peggy Goldman is a specialty tour operator and travel expert, who owns and operates Friendly Planet Travel, a full-service company that specializes in tour packages to exotic worldwide destinations at affordable prices.   More about Peggy

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