When an emergency occurs aboard a cruise ship, a passenger's first thought likely is, what do I do now? The answer's easy, say cruise safety experts: Do what you're told. "Modern ships are extremely...

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When an emergency occurs aboard a cruise ship, a passenger’s first thought likely is, what do I do now?

The answer’s easy, say cruise safety experts: Do what you’re told.

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Ship safety tips




Attend the mandatory boat drill. You need to know where to muster in case of an emergency.

Don’t throw cigarette butts overboard or into garbage bins.

Memorize the location of the exit nearest your cabin as well as an alternate.

Never smoke in bed.

If you are ordered to go to your muster station, bring along warm clothing, your wallet and essential medicines.

The Coast Guard inspects ships that call at U.S. ports. See the results at www.uscg.mil/news/cruiseship/.


“Modern ships are extremely well equipped, with various layers of protection on board,” said Capt. William Wright, senior vice president of safety, security and environment for Royal Caribbean. Still, it’s important to attend the mandatory boat drill held at the beginning of every cruise, he said.

Some passengers, particularly ones who have cruised often, may skip the drill, thinking that since they’ve taken part in them before, they don’t need to again. Wrong, said Wright.

“They need to know what route to take to their emergency stations, what to bring with them, what not to bring.”

Behind the scenes, meanwhile, every cruise ship has a number of systems with which to fight fire — one of the biggest concerns.

On board the average big cruise ship are six miles of fire hose, 5,000 sprinkler heads, 4,000 smoke detectors, 400 fire hydrants and 500 extinguishers.