Don’t assume you’re safe on a cruise boat
Fire and power failure are common occurrences on cruise boats, and risk of sexual assault is higher than on land. Before you cancel your next cruise vacation, remember hundreds of thousands of Americans take cruises every year. It’s important to put the facts into perspective, says Ross Klein, a sociologist at Memorial University and author of Paradise Lost at Sea: Rethinking Cruise Vacations. Cruise ships aren’t necessarily more dangerous than other forms of travel, but it’s also important not to throw caution overboard (pardon the pun). Fire and power failure are far more common than the highly reported incidents of cruise crashes, but rather than actual danger they tend to pose inconveniences such as delays. People who fall overboard are sometimes not paying attention (so don’t hang out on or near the railings, especially if you are drinking alcohol). Of greatest concern are the high rates of sexual assault on cruise ships; the majority of victims are young women and teens. “And between 2007 and 2008, 50 percent were perpetrated by crew members,” says Klein. “Cruises create this image of romance for passengers, but some crew members may have different ideas about sexuality.”
“You should use the same precautions and safety attitudes on a ship as you would in any town or city,” says Klein. For example, don’t walk down an empty hallway alone at 3 a.m., and don’t leave your children unattended.