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Cruise ships: A relaxing trip or a trip into the drink?

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As the new year begins and you have a fresh new batch of vacation days, the urge to travel can be undeniable. When you think about the options for seeing the world, a cruise can be a fun and economical choice.

A cruise gives you the opportunity to see visit multiple locations while letting someone else do the "driving." What you many not know is that there are a surprising number of people who fall into the ocean while on cruises. If you are considering a cruise this winter and worry about safety, here are some things to keep in mind:

There is no alert when a passenger goes overboard

Every year, there are people who fall overboard without anyone noticing. There are times when no one is in the area to see it happen, and there is no alert system in place. It may not be until hours or even a day later that someone will realize that the person is missing.

This is what happened to a woman on a cruise with friends. Once notified, crew checked through camera footage to try to track down what happened to her. It wasn't until sometime later that the Coast Guard was notified. With the size and depth of the ocean, there is only so much a search and rescue team can do.

Although technology exists that alerts crew members that someone has fallen overboard, ships typically are not equipped with it. Also, the video footage is not watched closely and is frequently only used after an accident happened, rather than crews observing it when it happened. When deciding if a different system is worth the expense to install and the cost to respond to alerts, the cruise lines are reluctant to make any changes. 

Avoid going overboard in the first place

The temptation to overindulge on alcohol can be strong on a cruise ship. You are on vacation; you will not have to drive anywhere. It seems like the perfect time to throw caution to the wind.

According to cruise lines, however, most often, the people who experience accidents on board are typically those who have had too much to drink. Many accidents could have been avoided if passengers either moderated their alcohol intake or stayed away from railings while intoxicated.

Keep people around you

Try to stay around other people when you are out on the deck. Even if you are not drinking, there are any number of opportunities to slip, trip or stumble and end up in the water. Staying where people can see you will help speed up the search and rescue attempt if you are to fall overboard.

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