First of all, don’t believe it couldn’t happen. It could.
Every year, about 19 people fall to their deaths from cruise ships, according to a report from trade group Cruise Lines International Association. The Points Guy wrote about some things you can do to mitigate the possibility that you’ll be the man or woman overboard. It is fairly unlikely — about 24 million people take a cruise ship every year, so the odds of survival are good. But safety first.
One thing the cruise ships are doing is making it harder for you to jump or get pushed. Most cruise ship deaths are associated with some deliberate act, or their cause is mysterious:
“Safety regulations, including uniform minimum railing and balcony heights, and structural barriers are also in place to prevent passengers who are acting responsibly from simply falling off a cruise ship,” said Sarah Kennedy, a spokesperson for CLIA. “There are no known cases of someone acting responsibly who has accidentally fallen over the railing of a cruise ship,” she added.
That’s a bit victim-blamey; being pushed off a cruise ship isn’t exactly acting irresponsibly. But here are some suggestions for how to be more careful.
Take The Weather Seriously
If you’re in the middle of the ocean and the winds are blowing, stay in your cabin. Any instructions you get from crew or staff regarding your safety should be taken seriously, even if you’re in a rush to get to the buffet. Or as The Points Guy says:
If you can’t open the door to the deck because it’s so windy, just stay inside. Say your ship gets caught in a hurricane, for example, or even in the upper reaches of the Beaufort scale and you’re outside on a slippery, exposed deck: The cruise lines won’t blame the weather for your tumble — they’ll file that away under “passenger behaving irresponsibly.”
Stock up on food and stay inside until you pull into port.
Wear Appropriate Shoes
Boat shoes are a real style of shoe that are also easier to wear on a boat — they don’t have heels. I’m sceptical that wearing high heels is enough to send you overboard, unless you’re also climbing the rigging, but on a swaying vessel they could certainly heighten the risk of injury. Pack a pair of flats. You’ll be able to dance longer anyway.
You know that old pirate’s saying: Moderate drinking will keep you from sinking. It may seem as though there’s nothing to do on a cruise except get hammered and pass out on a lawn chair, but find some other activity if you’re the type to ignore warning signs when hammered.
The sad fact is, some of those 19 deaths were foul play. Heated arguments happen everywhere, but on a giant boat they have added dangers. If you’re in a fight, move inside and notify a crew member as soon as possible.
Don’t Do The ‘Titanic’
Maybe The Points Guy was joking, but:
Sorry, Leo fans. That means no hanging precariously off the bow of a ship in a romantic gesture. It’s a good way to end up reenacting another scene from the classic film: the one where you’re floating around waiting to be rescued.
I don’t know how many deaths related to cosplay have been noted on cruise ships, but it is good advice to not try to recreate any movie scenes that involve going into areas shut off to patrons. Even if it makes an excellent photo.
Be Careful With Selfies
Which brings me to a tangential issue: Selfies. A recent study revealed that about 90 people die annually from taking selfies, many of them water or falling related:
The most common type of death was drowning (70 deaths), which often occurred after the selfie-taker was washed away by waves on a beach or capsized a boat. Next were “transport” deaths (51), which most frequently happened when someone was taking a selfie too close to a moving train.
Those were followed by deaths from falls (48), fires (48), firearms (11), animals (8) and “other” (7).
I’m not saying this is something that is a particular problem on cruise ships, but that is a place where you might go the extra mile to get that perfect shot. Be cognisant of your surroundings and behave responsibly by asking someone else to take your picture.