As a cruise consultant who helps families choose the cruise of their dreams, I have had some questions of late about cruise ship safety. Current and prospective clients have been asking me “Are cruise ships safe for children?” With the image of Costa Concordia still fresh in their minds, I fully understand their concern.
One of the biggest appeals of a cruise vacation, especially for families, is the ability to spend time together. So much of our life is spent apart, or in traffic, or driving from one activity to the next. A cruise allows your family to spend special time together, splashing in the onboard pools, playing games on deck, enjoying delicious food in the dining room and exploring on shore.
With many lines having incredible programs for kids, parents can also spend a quiet evening alone dining (when is the last time you enjoyed a HOT meal?), dancing or enjoying a Broadway style show. These kid’s clubs are supervised by crew members who are specially qualified and trained to work with kids. These programs group children by age and provide plenty of fun activities on board and sometimes on shore. They are popular because kids enjoy having fun with their peers, and because they give parents time to enjoy spa treatments, lectures and other activities that don’t appeal to kids.
While cruise ships offer plenty of opportunity for children to have supervised fun, many kids still want some time to explore the ship on their own, with their siblings or with the new friends they meet on board. While parents can decide how much independent exploration is appropriate for their children, there are some common-sense rules that apply to everyone:
- Deck railings on cruise ships are designed to be child-safe, but should never be climbed on.
- For older children and teens, decide on a meeting time and place. Make sure your kids are familiar enough with the ship to be able to easily find your stateroom or other designated meeting place.
- Tell your children to talk to a uniformed crew member if they need help and you aren’t nearby.
- If you want to be able to touch base with your kids at any time while on board, consider investing in a set of walkie-talkies.
The “What-if” question
Until the evening of Friday January 13, 2012, I never really gave much though to the “what-if” question. Then I saw the image of a modern cruise liner listing to one side as thousands were being evacuated. In an emergency, I will be the first to admit that I am going to want to be as close to my family as possible. However, there is a protocol that the cruise lines employ. Each child under the age of 11 on most lines is given a wristband that lists their muster station. Should your child be in the care of the kid’s clubs at the time of an emergency, the staff will bring your child to your muster station.
This sad event has caused all cruise lines to re-examine their safety training and procedures. I feel the industry which always took safety seriously will be even safer than before. For my family, we remain confident in the industry as a whole. In fact, we are scheduled to be sailing on Disney Dream next month. My daughter is already talking about taking pictures with Minnie Mouse and spending time in the kid’s club onboard. If you were to ask me are cruise ships safe for children, I would tell you that I believe they are.
I would love to hear your thoughts on this topic. Feel free to leave a comment below or if so inclined, please give me a call. I love to talk cruise and look forward to hearing from you.
Chuck and Laura Flagg are fee-based travel consultants.
We own The Flagg Agency in Canton, GA and our number is 770-355- 9569
We help people make better travel decisions so they may find
an experience that matches both their wants AND their needs.