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Cruise Ship Safety Guide

29th Aug 2019

Cruise Ship Safety

Cruise Ship Safety Hazards
Like any form of transportation, there are safety risks associated with cruise ships. That’s why it’s critical for companies that operate these ships to adhere to safety and compliance measures, and for passengers to understand potential hazards and safety guidelines.

Safety Hazards for Passengers
The first step to having a safe voyage is knowing about ship safety hazards so you can be alert and prepared. The following are risks of traveling on cruise ships:

  • Fires
  • Sinking
  • Contagious illnesses
  • Theft, assault or other crimes
  • Crashing into rocks on the shoreline, which could result in leaks
  • Falling overboard
  • Power outages

Frequency of Incidences
Contagious illnesses are some of the most frequent since there are so many people in a confined space. A common illness on cruise ships is norovirus, a gastrointestinal virus that is also called the “stomach flu.” From 2010 to 2011, 14 stomach virus outbreaks occurred on cruises, and that number slightly increased to 16 in 2012. The year 2013 saw a drop in outbreaks with only nine.

Crime is another serious risk for passengers. The FBI received 100 crime reports, 72 of which were for sexual assault, on cruise ships between January 2017 and March 2018. As far as ship sinkings, there were 15 from 2010 to 2013. However, only 16 deaths occurred on cruise ships from 2005 through 2011, which is low considering 100 million people embarked on cruises each year during that time period.

Regulations for Cruise Ships to Comply With
The U.S. Coast Guard, the International Maritime Organization (IMO), the Cruise Lines International Association – the biggest North American association for cruise lines – and the cruise lines themselves all participate in managing cruise ship safety.

In 2013, the Cruise Lines International Association implemented 10 new regulations. These include conducting an emergency drill before the ship leaves port, having a number of life jackets on the ship that is greater than the number of passengers and crew and stating 12 specific guidelines (such as where the life jackets are) while giving passengers the emergency preparedness information.

During the emergency drill, called a muster drill, every person on the ship is required to gather at the muster station (the emergency meeting place). There, the crew will provide you with additional safety protocols, including emergency notifications and signage. Take this opportunity to get all the information you can about the safety labels and signs on the ship and their meanings.

Cruise Ship Safety Checklist for Passengers
There are several simple ways you can reduce your risks of illness or danger on a cruise.

1. Guard yourself against illnesses. The same prevention measures you use at home also apply on cruise ships. Wash your hands frequently with soap and warm water, and definitely do so after you use the restroom and before sitting down for meals. Cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and carry antibacterial hand sanitizer with you. Also, prior to leaving, make sure you have the required vaccinations and get a flu shot, even if you are not traveling during flu season.

If you will be getting off the ship and exploring the port cities, talk to your doctor about the common diseases and health risks in that area and the precautions you need to take. For example, if malaria is common in the port you will be in, you will need to carry insect repellant and preventative malaria medicine.

2. Keep your valuables hidden and locked away. Lock your passport, money and any other valuables in a safe in your room. Whenever you leave your room, lock your door and take your keys with you. In a dining area or any other part of the ship, never leave your belongings unattended and do not put them in a place, such as an empty chair, where someone could walk by and easily grab it.

3. Use caution at the swimming pool. Always supervise your children at the pool since most pools on cruise ships do not have lifeguards. Before allowing your kids to go swimming with the ship’s kids’ club, verify that the leader or other adult staff member will be watching the kids swim the entire time. It is a good idea to enroll your child in swim lessons and ensure they are strong swimmers before your trip. Young children who are not strong swimmers need to wear life jackets in the pool.

4. Be vigilant when traveling in port cities. Stay aware of your surroundings and walk with confidence. Do not walk alone and do not bring money or other valuables that will draw attention to yourself. Wear a purse with a strap that goes across your body. If possible, go through the city with a tour guide or a group.

5. Only travel on ships with a medical center. For the best medical centers, choose the most credible cruise lines. The cruise ship medical centers generally have a nurse and sometimes a doctor.

Visual Safety Best Practices For Cruise Ship Lines
When it comes to safety on products, around industrial equipment and in public areas, warnings and instructional messages – including safety labels, signs and tags – are important in order to advise people about hazards, how to avoid them and ways to protect themselves.

That means that many of the same best practice principles for safety labels, signs and tags apply for cruise ship lines, as well as for manufacturers producing industrial products installed in cruise ships.

A few tips specifically for cruise lines related to visual safety:

  • Use ISO/IMO standardized safety signs meant to reinforce training so that crew and passengers can be as prepared as possible in the event of an emergency situation. That includes exit signs, fire safety signs and other egress and emergency signs .
  • Keep in mind that when communicating to a multi-lingual audience, which is often the case on ships, symbols are key. Use standardized, ISO 7010 symbols whenever possible for consistency and to increase the ability to be recognized.
  • Treat water safety signage as seriously as other types of signage – if not more so considering the prevalence of accidents involving pools and spas. Don’t fall into the trap of posting long lists of rules that blend into the background and aren’t noticed or read by guests. And, keep in mind that pool safety signs can be branded to a cruise ship line while still following best practice ANSI/ISO standards for visual safety.

Expert Information
Here at Clarion Safety, we’ve had the privilege of working with standards-setting groups in visual safety communication at the highest level. That includes being a part of the ISO technical committee (ISO/TC8/SC1/WG3 Ships and Marine Technology / Life Saving and Fire Protection / Safety Signs) charged with updating the safety signs that the IMO requires to be installed onboard ships. That task meant reviewing these signs, including shipboard wayfinding signs , to see if they needed to be updated to reflect latest best practices in ISO safety sign design.There’s no greater reward for the work we do than helping to increase safety on a global level – and helping our customers to understand improvements they can make in their warnings and instructional messages to be as effective as possible. To learn more about safety signs, labels locks or tags, contact us online or call us at (877) 748-0244 to learn how we can help.

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