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With the unnecessary tragic loss of life in the Costa Concordia disaster near Italy, much attention is now being focused on safety issues for cruise ship passengers. Below are some useful points to keep in mind when deciding to take a cruise.

Before Taking a Cruise

Book your cruise through a trusted travel counselor. Should there be an emergency, the travel counselor can be a trusted ally and provide valuable assistance.

Registering all international travel with the U.S. Department of State’s free Smart Traveler Enrolment Program (STEP) will enable the State Department to provide assistance in an emergency.

Illness can be a big problem aboard cruise ships. If you’ve ever had a Norwalk-like virus you won’t ever want to have it again. Check the cruise ship report card prior to booking a cruise. The Vessel Sanitation Program by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) regularly inspects ships for cleanliness, repair, water quality and more.

Before traveling, scan a copy of your passport and save it in your email so you can access a copy from anywhere. A Gmail account comes in handy for this. Also give a copy to a friend or relative. This will also make it easier to get a replacement should you need too.

Check travel warnings so you are aware of unsafe conditions.

Travel insurance can come in handy should you incur medical expenses, baggage loss/delay. If you do decide to get insurance, make sure you understand exactly what it does and doesn’t cover.

On a Cruise

First and foremost, pay attention to safety instructions and safety drills at the start of the drill and during activities. Ships are required to hold safety drills within 24 hours of boarding new passengers. Knowing what to do in an emergency is important to your safety.

If you have prescription medications you take daily, always have them on you should you get sick or need them.

When booking a tour, consider going through your cruise line. If you do book an independent tour, research it careful in advance. Scalpers are standing by waiting to take advantage.

Before leaving the ship for a tour or excursion, ask the cruise director if there are any areas that you should avoid. They are legally obligated to disclose this information to you.

Which leads to the next point- travel in groups or at the very least with another person, when it is possible to do so.

Discretion is important- don’t carry large sums of cash or wear expensive jewelry. Leave the jewelry at home or in the safe in your cabin. Place money and credit cards in your front pant pockets. If you are using a purse, try to avoid using one with a strap. Remaining low key is the safest bet.

Finally and most important- trust your gut. If something doesn’t feel right, it most likely isn’t. Safety always comes first.

Do have a safe and fun voyage!

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