Are Cruises Safe? Exploring Potential Hazards and Safety Precautions

by R Long
February 19, 2023

Cruising has become an increasingly popular way to travel, with millions of people embarking on cruise ships each year. While cruising can be an exciting and luxurious way to explore the world, some travelers question: “Are cruises safe?”

After all, cruise ships are essentially floating cities, and accidents can happen at sea.

Let’s explore the potential hazards associated with cruising, such as bad weather, fire, passenger drowning, falling overboard, ships becoming grounded, and collisions of ships. We’ll also discuss the security measures that cruise lines have in place.

By the end of this blog, you’ll have a better understanding of the potential risks of cruising and how to stay protected while onboard a cruise ship.

Ensuring Safe and Enjoyable Cruises for Passengers

The safety of cruise ship passengers is of the utmost importance for cruise lines. They take significant measures to ensure the safety and well-being of every individual aboard the ship.

All cruise ships are required to comply with strict international safety standards. The CLIA (Cruise Lines International Association) states that a normal cruise ship has over sixty safety, environmental, and health inspections every year. 

To comply with those regulations all cruise ships must have emergency response plans, mandatory drills as well as state-of-the-art safety equipment.

The standard cruise ship with a carrying capacity of 2700 passengers and 800 crew members will have the following:

  1. 5 firefighting teams
  2. 4,000 smoke detectors
  3. 500 fire extinguishers
  4. 16 miles of sprinkler piping
  5. 5,000 sprinkler heads
  6. 6 miles of a fire hose.

The looming question asked by all is “are cruises safe”. It should put your mind at ease knowing that if a ship carries 12 or more passengers it is considered a passenger ship. Thus it will need to adhere to all International Marine Organization (IMO) regulations. 

In addition, the U.S. Coast Guard lets nothing slip by as they often do inspections of each ship sailing from U.S. ports. A standard inspection will include crew training, fire safety, and correct functionality of all safety systems as well as checking and rechecking lifesaving equipment.

The Crucial Role of Cruise Ship Crew in Ensuring Passenger Safety

The crew of every cruise ship plays a crucial role in ensuring the safety of passengers onboard. Here are some of the ways they help to make a cruise secure:


  • Emergency Preparedness: Cruise ship crew members receive extensive training in emergency procedures, including fire and flood response, medical emergencies, and evacuation protocols. They are responsible for ensuring that all passengers are aware of emergency procedures and have the necessary safety information.
    • They are also required to take training courses in crisis management, passenger and cargo security, and hull integrity.  
    • Their responsibilities include helping passengers to embark and debark on the cruise ship. They are also responsible for the safety of all cargo on the ship.
  • Security: The crew is responsible for maintaining security on board the ship, including monitoring for any suspicious or dangerous behavior, as well as ensuring the safety of passengers during port visits.
  • Maintenance and Inspection: The crew is responsible for the regular maintenance and inspection of the ship’s equipment and systems, including equipment like lifeboats and fire suppression systems.
  • Medical Assistance: Cruise ship crew members are trained to provide basic medical assistance in case of a medical emergency. Not to mention that every cruise ship is required to have a shipboard medical facility as well as have cruise ship doctors available for any and all emergencies.
  • Guest Services: The crew is available to assist passengers with all concerns or questions they may have during their cruise. They are trained to provide information and guidance to ensure a safe and enjoyable cruise experience

Overall, the crew of a cruise ship plays a vital role in maintaining the safety and well-being of passengers on board. Their extensive training and dedication to ensuring an environment that helps to provide peace of mind for passengers who want reassurance when asking the question: “Are cruises safe ?”

Comparing the Safety of Cruises and Planes: Which is Safer?

safety cruise vs airplane

Compared to airplanes, cruise ships tend to experience fewer accidents each year. This can be attributed to the fact that in a plane accident, there may be little that can be done to prevent it.

On a cruise ship, the focus is on accident avoidance, and in the event that an accident occurs, the aim is to mitigate its impact and severity. If there is a problem with the cruise ship, the passengers can be evacuated and help can be called for. 

Compared to airplanes, cruise ships tend to experience fewer accidents each year. This can be attributed to the fact that in a plane accident, there may be little that can be done to prevent it.

On a cruise ship, the focus is on accident avoidance, and in the event that an accident occurs, the aim is to mitigate its impact and severity. If there is a problem with the cruise ship, the passengers can be evacuated and help can be called for. 

There are many precautions taken before a ship even leaves the dock. And more precautions are set in place during the progress of the cruise.  

What are the odds of dying on a cruise ship versus other travel?

  1. The odds of dying on a cruise are 1 in 6.25 million.
  2. The odds of a plane crashing are 1 in 1.2 million.
  3. The odds of dying in a car crash is 1 in 5000.
  4. Compare 1 in 15,300 odds of getting struck by lightning.

When you ask the question: “Are cruises safe?”, it is clear that your chance of dying on a cruise ship is very slim.

Examining the Safety of Cruises: Is the Risk of Sinking a Concern?

cruise ship sinking

Cruise ships are designed and constructed with multiple safety features to prevent them from sinking, and incidents of cruise ships sinking are rare. However, like any mode of transportation, there are risks involved in cruising, and it is important for travelers to be aware of these risks and take necessary precautions.

Cruise ships are required to adhere to international safety standards and regulations, and undergo rigorous safety inspections to ensure they are seaworthy. Cruise ships also have multiple redundant systems in place to ensure that in the event of a failure, backup systems can be activated to prevent the ship from sinking.

However, there have been incidents in the past where cruise ships have run aground or collided with other vessels, leading to partial or full sinking.

In such cases, the crew is trained to follow strict emergency procedures, including evacuating passengers to lifeboats or rafts and deploying inflatable life rafts.

Common Safety Concerns on Cruise Ships: Understanding the Risks and Precautions

These are the biggest dangers that beg the question: Are Cruises Safe?

  • Inclement Weather
are cruises safe lightening

Cruise ships are designed to withstand various weather conditions, but sometimes they may come across rough seas, high winds, or storms. In such cases, the captain and crew take steps to ensure the safety and comfort of passengers and the ship itself.

The first thing the crew will do is to keep passengers informed about the situation and any changes to the itinerary.

Cruise ships are equipped with advanced technology that can detect weather patterns, allowing the captain to make informed decisions about the ship’s route.

Additionally, most cruise ships have stabilizers that can help reduce the motion of the ship in rough seas, making for a smoother ride. Cruise lines take bad weather seriously and prioritize the safety of passengers and crew above all else.

  • Fire
cruise safety fire

Fires on board a cruise ship can be a major concern and can be caused by a variety of factors, such as electrical malfunctions, cooking equipment, or fuel leaks. Cruise ships are required to have advanced fire suppression systems, smoke detectors, and fire doors to contain and extinguish any fire that may occur.

  • Passenger Drownings
are cruises safe from passenger drownings

Passenger drownings are a rare occurrence on cruise ships, but they can happen due to accidents such as falling overboard or while swimming in pools or other water facilities on board. To prevent drownings, cruise ships are equipped with features such as pool lifeguards, fencing around pools and hot tubs, and clear signage indicating depth and pool rules.

  • Falling Overboard

Falling overboard is a serious concern on cruise ships, as it can lead to injury or death. To prevent such incidents, cruise ships are designed with features such as high railings and netting to prevent passengers from falling overboard accidentally.

  • Ships Becoming Grounded

Ships becoming grounded is a rare but serious concern on cruises. This can happen due to factors such as human error, navigational errors, or mechanical issues.

  • Collisions

Collisions with other vessels or with stationary objects can be a significant concern on cruise ships. To prevent collisions, cruise ships are equipped with advanced navigation systems, such as radar and sonar, and undergo regular safety inspections.

In summary, cruise ships have multiple safety measures in place to prevent incidents such as fires, passenger drownings, passengers falling overboard, ships becoming grounded, and collisions.

Addressing Health Concerns on a Cruise: Understanding the Risk of Illnesses and Ways to Stay Safe

sickness cruise safety

Cruising can be an exciting and enjoyable vacation option, but it is also important to be aware of the potential health risks associated with traveling on a ship with a large number of passengers. Some of the most common health concerns on a cruise ship are illnesses such as gastrointestinal infections and respiratory illnesses.

These illnesses can spread easily in a confined environment, such as a cruise ship, and can be caused by factors such as poor hygiene, contaminated food or water, or close contact with an infected person. To mitigate the risk of illnesses, cruise ships have implemented a range of measures to maintain high levels of hygiene and sanitation on board.

These measures include requiring passengers to complete a pre-cruise health questionnaire, providing hand sanitizers throughout the ship, and ensuring that all food and water are properly stored and prepared.

If you are traveling with someone who is pregnant, there are more precautions that should be taken. They must report this fact to the cruise lines and for the safety of all, should be more cautious. However, cruise ships also have medical facilities on board and qualified medical staff to provide treatment and care in the event of illness or injury.

To stay safe and healthy on a cruise, passengers should take a number of precautions, such as frequently washing their hands with soap and water, avoiding close contact with sick passengers, and reporting any illness symptoms to the ship’s medical staff as soon as possible.

It is also important for passengers to stay hydrated, eat a balanced and healthy diet, and get enough rest and exercise during the trip.

In addition to taking personal precautions, passengers should also be aware of the health and safety policies and guidelines provided by the cruise line, and follow them closely to minimize the risk of illness. By being vigilant and following basic hygiene practices, passengers can help ensure a healthy and enjoyable cruise experience.


While there are potential risks associated with cruise travel, including accidents, illnesses, and other safety concerns, cruise lines have implemented a range of measures to maintain a safe and healthy environment on board.

By following basic safety protocols and taking personal precautions, passengers can help minimize the risk of accidents and illnesses and enjoy a safe and memorable vacation experience.

Whether it is your first time cruising or you are a seasoned traveler, it is important to be informed and prepared in order to make the most of your cruise vacation while prioritizing your health and safety.

So, are cruises safe? Yes, they are.

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