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Soothed by the gentle crash of the ocean, the warm rays of the sun, and the promise of a tropical destination, its easy for passengers on a cruise to forget their worries. While you certainly should feel relaxed and carefree on vacation, it’s important to always remain aware of the many hazards and risks that accompany cruise vacations. All too often, passengers who have let their guard down during their cruise vacation have experienced serious injury, illness, and accidents.

Below, we’ve listed 10 of the most dangerous health and safety mistakes made by cruise ship passengers.Click To Tweet

Avoiding these mistakes could mean the difference between an enjoying a relaxing vacation or suffering a health emergency.

1. Excessive partying. On cruises, passengers are prone to excess. They drink more than normal, eat more than normal, and engage in more active activities such as dancing and shore excursions. For passengers with existing heart conditions, this sudden level of excess can result in heart attack and illness.

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2. Excessive drinking. Intoxication can cause accidents and injury on land, but the combination of alcohol and the swaying motion of a ship at sea increases the likelihood of disaster. In addition to painful trip and fall injuries, excessive alcohol consumption can lead to impulsive behaviors and overboard accidents. Research has found that the vast majority of the victims of overboard incidents in the last 12 years were intoxicated.

3. Excessive sun exposure. Passengers on cruises get a lot of sun exposure, which can be harmful to those coming from colder climates where sunlight is not as intense. Excessive exposure to the sun can result in painful sunburns that cause skin problems in the future, and can cause sunstroke and dehydration—particularly for passengers who have been drinking. Make sure you wear proper protective gear, including sunscreen, sunglasses, and sun hats.

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4. Neglecting to wash your hands. Since cruise ship passengers are confined to a heavily populated space for days or weeks at a time, it’s easy for disease to spread. Washing your hands frequently is good way to reduce the chances of an outbreak.

5. Neglecting to seek care for onshore injuries. During onshore excursions, cruise ship passengers may suffer injuries. It’s not uncommon for passengers to get into an accident after renting a car or motorbike onshore. It can be a mistake to ignore these injuries and return to the ship, where medical facilities are limited. A safer solution is to visit a full-service hospital at the port of call, and contact the ship’s port agent to make arrangements in case you are forced to separate from your ship.

6. Buying medications onshore. At many international ports, you can buy prescription medicines over the counter at a low cost. However, not only is buying medications without a prescription highly illegal, it can be highly dangerous. Many medications sold at international ports are not subject to FDA regulations, and can have life-threatening adverse effects on the user

7. Bringing marijuana on your cruise. Even if you have a legal prescription for medical marijuana, this prescription is only valid for the state in which it was prescribed. The US Coast Guard and Customs and Border Protection agents are unlikely to recognize your prescription, and bringing them aboard your ship can land you in some serious hot water.

8. Neglecting to secure travel insurance. While some insurance plans cover injuries and illnesses while traveling, the majority of health insurances do not. Before leaving for your cruise, check with your insurance plan to see if it covers care and emergency services abroad. If it doesn’t, it’s highly advisable to take out travel insurance.

9. Ignoring medical advice. If your doctor advises you it is unwise to go on a cruise with your current medical condition, it’s a dangerous idea to ignore his or her advice. If a medical emergency occurs out at sea, you may not be able to get the care you need in the limited cruise ship facilities.

10. Cruising while pregnant. Similarly, it’s highly inadvisable to go on a cruise if you are more than 20 weeks along in a pregnancy. If you were to go into labor, most cruise ships do not have the facilities or resources to safely deliver a child, particularly if the birth is complicated or premature.

You can help to ensure your cruise is both enjoyable and injury-free by staying alert and following simple safety measures. But even the most cautious and responsible cruiser can’t eliminate their chances of getting in an accident entirely—especially if the ship facilities are unsafe or the crew is careless. If you have suffered injury or illness because of a cruise line’s negligence, consult with a knowledgeable cruise ship accident attorney. A good maritime attorney can guide you through complex maritime laws, and help you hold the cruise line accountable for the harm they have caused you.


About the Author:

Andrew Winston is a partner at the personal injury law firm of The Law Office of Andrew Winston. He has been recognized for excellence in the representation of injured clients by admission to the Million Dollar Advocates Forum, is AV Rated by the Martindale-Hubbell Law Directory, and was recently voted by his peers as a Florida “SuperLawyer”—an honor reserved for the top 5% of lawyers in the state—and to Florida Trend’s “Legal Elite.”