By Aimee Heckel
The vision of a luxurious ocean cruise has been tainted — at least for the moment — by the recent Carnival cruise ship disaster. Thousands of passengers were stranded on a Carnival cruise ship for nearly a week due to a fire. The passengers’ horror stories are filling the media right now — from unsanitary conditions to food shortages.
The truth is, the cruise ship travel industry has a great record, and these kinds of accidents are very rare.
In fact, NBC news reports there were only 72 cruise ship fires over the last two decades.
And cruise ship vacations have a long record of popularity: More than 10 million Americans go on a cruise every year.
Here are some more facts about cruise ship travel to help you decipher between the hype and the truth. Follow these tips on how to cruise safely, so you can decide for yourself whether an ocean adventure is for you.
How do you know the ships are safe?
Carnival says that its ships fully comply and often exceed U.S. and international safety regulations. All employees are trained for emergencies. Captains tend to be very experienced, with the average of 33 years on the job. The U.S. Coast Guard inspects the ships every three to six months, as well.
What can passengers do to keep safe?
• Always have your passport, even if the ship does not require it.
• Listen to the safety briefing and know the emergency routines. Study the ship’s map and layout. Check the safety chart on the back of your cabin door.
• As with any kind of travel, be smart about germs and diseases when you’re in public places, don’t drink too much alcohol and leave your valuables at home. Wear shoes with rubber soles or low heels; don’t go barefoot.
• Know where to find life jackets.
What are the most common cruise ship disasters?
NBC news reports the four most common cruise ship problems are rogue waves, storms, fires and collisions.
Where can I find more information?
The International Center for Cruise Research claims to be an independent clearinghouse for information about cruise ships. Also, it can be helpful to check reviews of other passengers’ experiences, such as the Consumer Affairs website. Make sure you familiarize yourself with the nonprofit association Cruise Lines International.
Not phased by the news reports?
Now may be a good time to score a great deal on a cruise. Right now, Carnival has a special: four days from Miami to the Bahamas starting at $189 per person.
Or choose to travel with another cruise company, such as Royal Caribbean Cruises. Check ShopAtHome.com for deals and coupons for Royal Caribbean cruises.
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