Thursday, April 20, 2017

Cruise Ship Preps

It's been over a month since my last post here, mostly because we were floating around the ocean for a good chunk of that time.  The spouse needed a vacation and what better place to go than being stranded on a tiny ship floating in the middle of a vast ocean for weeks at a time?  Actually it wasn't quite that bad (and if you happened to have served on any type of military ship I can confirm that being waited on hand and foot and fed into a carb coma is much better than standing watch and hanging around the engine room, but I digress).  Of course every situation requires some preps so here is the list...

  • Cruise ships are generally a safe way to travel.
  • And many disasters can be averted by general common sense.
  • Know where the things are that you would need in an emergency including escape routes from your room, where your muster station is, where your life jackets are, and what the alarms mean.
  • Have a small go bag ready just in case (FYI...cruise ships now scan bags for any contraband prior to letting you embark so that rules out guns and other types of weapons).  My go bag was an Ultra Sil backpack, hung next to the bed, with a handful of ziploc bags.  To go into this bag (and the ziploc bags) in the event of an emergency would have been my cell phone, passport and ID, cruise ship ID card, wallet with cash and credit cards, bottles of water, granola bars, whistle, flashlight, etc.  
  • Learn every corner of your cruise ship.  Check out each deck and learn where everything is.  Where is the tender deck?  Where are the extra life jackets stored?  Where are the life boats and life rafts stored?  How do you get from point A to point B quickest?
  • Make friends with the staff.  Besides making your trip extra comfortable and enjoyable (we were lavished with free drinks just for being friendly with the crew, they went out of their way to make special meals upon request, and we didn't wait in line for anything), knowing the crew and them knowing you can only be a good thing during a crisis.
  • Determine where you can find other items you may need in a crisis such as fire extinguishers, the ship's clinic, improvised weapons, etc.
  • Be prepared to take care of your own health and safety.  Some things are pretty obvious (like being careful where and how you walk when the ship is bouncing around in turbulent seas and not touching everything in sight then touching your face/nose/mouth).  While others deserve a reminder, like bringing your own extra prescription meds and your own first aid kit, and keeping your hands cleaned and sanitized regularly.
  • Take the same precautions on a ship that you would anytime you travel.
  • Don't drink yourself stupid.  This is incredibly easy to do on a cruise ship as bar staff are pushing drinks on you at every turn but in order to keep control of your safety (and you credit card bill!), save the binge drinking for the safety of your home.
  • Plan your cruise duration and destination with care.  Longer, more expensive cruises during the off season generally have a median age of 70+ and a quieter crowd overall, whereas short duration cruises to the Caribbean during spring break generally have a younger, rowdier party crowd.  I'll choose the former.  And you couldn't pay me enough to cruise along the coast of Africa without a SEAL team on board.
  • Remain semi-cognizant of what is going on in the world.  It's easy to tune out the world when you are on a cruise--except when the only two channels you have on TV are MSNBC (we hate Trump, we hate republicans) and Fox (we love Trump, we love Republicans)...needless to say we mostly tuned out the news completely.  But in each port we did use free WiFi and/or free data from our cell provider to check up on what was happening at home and abroad.
  • Realize that it is easy to spend money and not realize it since everything is conveniently charged to your room card (and thus your credit card) and you don't get the bill until the last day of the cruise.  Drinks are expensive, internet access on the ship is expensive, cell service on the ship is criminally expensive, shore excursions may or may not be worth it...do your homework and exercise some financial control when you are out to sea.

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