Recent events have gotten me to thinking about how people can keep their children safe on a cruise ship. I’m of course talking about the horrible tragedy of the toddler falling off of Royal Caribbean’s Freedom of the Seas. My heart goes out to the entire family, I cannot even imagine how hard it’s been for them. I have a two year old granddaughter, and I know how I’d feel if something happened to her. So, how do you keep your children safe on a ship?
Cruising is safe for children…but they need to be supervised and protected
A cruise is not normally an unsafe place for children. We’ve cruised many times, we see children all of the time, and we’ve never seen anything bad happen to them. But accidents can happen to children anywhere, not just on a cruise ship, so adults need to be vigilant and have common sense around them. If your children are participating in the children’s activities and clubs on the ship, they will have adults who work on the cruise line supervising them and keeping them safe. However, when the children are with their families, someone reliable should always be supervising them.
Swimming pools and water play areas
Some ships have lifeguards, some ships don’t. Swimming pools anywhere can be a danger for children of any age. Water play areas on ships can also be a place where children can slip or fall and get hurt. A responsible adult should be with children watching them at all times in these areas, and children should be reminded to walk and not run on the wet decks.
Open windows and balconies
Adults need to use common sense with children at all times around windows and balconies. We’ve actually cruised on Freedom of the Seas twice, and in spite of what has been said, you can tell if a window on deck 11 is open. The windows are tinted a dark blue to keep the area from getting too hot, and the ones that are open are clear and have a breeze coming through. Plus, they are over waist high on an adult, so a child could only fall out if lifted or if they climbed onto a table or chair. So, double check windows. Let your children look out from the windows near the floor instead of the higher ones.
Don’t lift children up to sit on handrails anywhere on the ship, and definitely don’t allow them to sit on the railing on a ship’s balcony. Children are unpredictable, so you don’t want to put them in any situation that could turn out to be dangerous if they don’t act the way you expect them to. Also, if a child is on a ship’s balcony, or anywhere near a railing, have an adult nearby supervising. Never allow a small child to be alone on a ship’s balcony. The balcony itself is closed in with bars or glass, but children are known to climb on furniture to try and get a better view, and one slip could be dangerous or deadly. Adults…this is for you too! Never sit on a balcony railing, and never try to climb from one balcony to another. One bump from a wave, or one slip, and you’re gone.
Always hold the hand of small children on stairways. A ship being what it is, will rock and roll with the swells of the ocean and it would be easy for a small child to miss a step and fall.
Don’t let children of any age run up and down the hallways, around the pool deck, or in the food areas. Besides being extremely annoying to other passengers, it can be dangerous. They could run into a door that someone just opened, they could slip and fall, or they could cause another passenger to trip and fall.
Never let children wander off alone. If they’re teens, have them go out in twos or groups if not with an adult. If they’re smaller, they should always be with a responsible adult. You may be on a cruise ship, but you’re still with a lot of people that you don’t know.
It’s common for people cruising to take advantage of not having to drive, and to drink a bit more than usual. Because of that, the safest way to take care of young children is to have someone in your group who is not partaking be the designated child watcher. Better safe than sorry. Maybe alternate alcohol free or alcohol limited days with others in your group and take turns child watching.
Remember that in port there will often be beaches, pools, other tourists and locals, and automobiles around. Keep your child close to you, it would be easy for them to get separated from you, or to run out into a street. I have seen no lifeguards in port pools, so watch your children closely.
I’m really hoping that this tragedy will make others stop and think before they act. Always be alert to your surroundings, especially when you are caring for children. A cruise can be a very safe way to travel if you are careful and use common sense. Enjoy your cruise, and keep your children safe!