A Caribbean cruise is a great way to explore multiple islands while enjoying the comforts of a floating hotel, but you shouldn't check your sense of caution at the cruise-ship dock: crime, illness and other problems can and do occur onboard just like on land-based vacations. The Automobile Club of Southern California offers some excellent tips on ensuring that your cruise is healthy and safe:
- Get medical and dental checkups before departing to help prevent health-related incidents. If you have special health needs, call your cruise line for information about the ship’s medical facility, what type of equipment is available and if a doctor or nurse will be on board.
- If you have an existing medical condition, ask your doctor for a letter explaining the condition, treatment or necessary care. Notify the ship’s medical staff at the start of the cruise.
- If you are concerned about seasickness, see a doctor before you depart. Your doctor can make recommendations for your case. Medications also can be dispensed by the ship’s doctor or purser.
- Have proper identification. If you are sailing from and returning to a U.S. port, in most cases you will need a passport or a certified copy of your birth certificate. If you are sailing within a foreign country, you may need a visa in addition to a passport. A travel agent can advise you about the required documents.
- Pack wisely. Bring an extra pair of prescription eyeglasses, sunglasses and/or contact lenses, all prescription medications, the instructions and dosage amounts. Bring copies of all your prescriptions in case you need to replace any of them. Bring plenty of sunscreen and a hat to protect yourself from the sun.
- Choose a cabin best suited to your needs. An inside cabin on the lowest deck is the least expensive and in some cases, the most stable, particularly if it’s in the center of the ship. However, some people feel claustrophobic if they don’t have windows or portholes.
- Never leave your cabin door propped open or unlocked, even for a short time. Always lock the door and never leave the cabin keys unattended.
- Don’t let your guard down. Keep an eye on valuables or put them in the ship’s or room’s safe.
- Always determine a person’s identity before you open your cabin door. If you didn’t order room service or don’t know the person, don’t open the door.
- If you feel someone is following you, don’t go back to your cabin. Go to a public place and ask someone to escort you to your room.
- Familiarize yourself with the ship’s safety features like personal flotation devices, lifeboats, sprinkler system and emergency exit plans.
- When taking a shore excursion, follow the directions of your tour guide. If you’re taking a self-guided tour, ask authorized ship personnel which areas to avoid and if any precautions should be taken when driving a rental car or using public transportation. Walk only in well-lit areas.
- Be watchful of your surroundings. Walk with a sense of purpose, as if you know where you are going. If you get lost, find a police officer or go into a hotel, restaurant or shop and ask for directions.
- Never leave personal belongings like luggage, purses or cameras unattended, even for a minute.
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