From the coast of Peru to the South China Sea, acts of piracy have been a fear of cruisers since about 2009, when these incidents were widely reported. How likely is it to happen to your family? Fortunately, new international laws and patrols by ocean-going vessels have decreased them substantially. Travelers can allay their fears and keep up to date with these tips.
While many travelers will not be considering a remote cruise as their number one vacation idea, the rise of reported attacks in the past years has given the chance for cruise line companies to prepare for the worst and ensure the safety of their passengers.
IFor many acts of piracy in Asian and African waters and elsewhere, the bulk of attacks has been directed not at cruise ships, but other vessels such as tankers, tugs and bulk carriers.
Still, cruise liners are taking heed of attacks on any type of vessel, implementing such safety practices as mandatory drills for passengers and traveler instruction before entering any perilous territory.
The United Kingdom Mutual Steam Ship Assurance Association has argued against onboard weapons because of “risks inherent in use of arms by untrained/improperly trained persons, the enhanced risk of loss of life/injury through armed engagement and the risk of encouraging the escalation of armed engagement and the use of more potent and warlike weaponry.”
At this point, a defenseless cruise ship might not be the most enticing option for those who want to experience an exotic African cruise or a romantic trip through the Red Sea. Nevertheless, there are several helpful safety tips for a safe and fun journey for the determined traveler.
1. The Bigger, The Better
While a cruise on a smaller, more private ship may seem like a better option for a relaxing voyage, larger cruise lines are a safer bet. Reports from the International Maritime Organization have shown that smaller vessels are targeted more frequently for attacks than larger ships, given their easy accessibility and a smaller number of individuals to keep under control.
2. Practice Makes Preparation
Previously mentioned, some cruise lines offer drills for their passengers before entering dangerous waters. It’s a good idea to participate in these practices (Some, of course, may not give you the choice) in case the worst should happen. For ships that do not offer these exercises in safety, visit the cruise line’s website or contact an agent to receive any safety tips and travel suggestions they may have.
3. Knowing Is Everything
Even before the trip, it’s not a bad idea to do a little research on the waters your ship will be passing through. The International Chamber of Commerce provides a live piracy map displaying the locations of attempted attacks in the past years. Knowing these areas and planning a cruise to avoid such places will help in making a safer, less worrisome vacation.
4. Making Your Presence Known
Registering a trip itinerary with the U.S. Embassy is a smart move for a few good reasons: The first is in case travelers need to be alerted to any emergencies; the second, in case the travelers themselves are the ones found in an emergency situation. While it’s important for the U.S. government to know where its citizens are in case of a disaster, it might also be a wise idea to notify friends and relatives before taking a lengthy trip overseas.
5. Don’t Worry, Be Happy
While many cruise lines have added extra security measures to ward off any possible attack, these vessels already have effective anti-piracy maneuvers in place. Larger cruise ships have an advantage should they come under attack, reaching high speeds near impossible for smaller pirate ships to match. Along with onboard security officers, an adept crew and carefully prepared anti-piracy plans, it’s that much more difficult for a successful assault.
Some ships have even been equipped with long-range acoustic instruments that send ear-splitting sonic waves to the attacker. While any traveler would hope not to be around when one of these deafening devices is activated, it’s a comforting thought to know they’re around for any emergencies.
Most importantly, whether your ship will be cruising through pirate-infested waters or not, follow the Boy Scout motto: “Be prepared.”
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