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Aerial view of a cruise ship moving through the ocean
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5 Cruise Specific Nightmares (And How to Avoid Them)

SmarterTravel

The recent viral video of a woman getting stuck on a waterslide suspended over the ocean aboard a Norwegian Cruise Line ship got us thinking about nightmare situations that can only happen on a cruise ship. 

From minor inconveniences like seasickness to bigger disasters, here’s how to avoid falling victim to five terrifying ship-specific scenarios.

Getting Stuck in a Waterslide Over the Ocean

Clear tube water slide on a cruise ship with ocean in background
Sergey Bogomyako | Adobe Stock

Anyone with even the smallest amount of claustrophobia started sweating watching the recent video of a woman getting stuck in a section of the cruise ship’s enclosed water slide that was suspended over the ocean. However, the solution to not getting trapped in a waterslide might scare you even more—wear as little clothing as possible. 

According to Royal Caribbean, the trick to smoothly and quickly making it down a slide is opting for a small swimsuit (like a speedo) as more fabric (like rash guards or bathing suits with more coverage) will cause more friction and slow you down. 

Missing the Boat

You’ve spent hundreds or thousands of dollars on your dream cruise, but if you miss the boat, all that money will go down the drain—and you’ll have to pay even more to get yourself home. 

Cruise ships wait for no passengers, so never fly into port on the day that your cruise ship is scheduled to depart—if your flight is delayed or canceled, it’s highly likely that you’ll miss the boat. Always fly in a day or two early to give yourself a buffer (and to be able to explore the port city).

Likewise, when you’re off the boat for an excursion, be sure to double-check what time you have to be back, and plan to arrive well before the departure in case you run into traffic or other unexpected delays.

Falling Overboard

Ievgen Skrypko | Adobe Stock

Man-overboard incidents are extremely rare on cruise ships. Cruise ships are specifically designed to prevent people from falling overboard, with safety measures like high railings and other barriers in plance. According to the Cruise Lines International Association (CLA), there were 212 man-overboard incidents between 2009 and 2019. 

Falling overboard is extremely preventable on a cruise ship. Avoid drinking excessively (which can cause impaired judgment and coordination) and never climb or sit on railings on a cruise ship. Stay inside when there is bad weather or rough seas. 

Getting Seasick

Nauseous, vomiting, and dizzy—not exactly how you want to spend your vacation at sea. Unfortunately, if you’re prone to seasickness, this is how you might feel on a cruise. 

Follow these tips to avoid getting seasick:

  • Pick a larger boat that is equipped with stabilizers, to minimize how much you’ll feel motion on board
  • Skip itineraries that spend a lot of time crossing open ocean (opt for a Caribbean cruise vs. a transatlantic one, for example) 
  • Choose a cabin in the middle of the ship on a lower deck
  • Get fresh air
  • Stay hydrated
  • Avoid alcohol
  • Try medications—both prescription and over-the-counter medicines are available to combat seasickness, so check with your doctor about which one is right for you before leaving for your trip
  • Eat small amounts of bland food

At-Sea Quarantine

Face mask on a bed in a cruise cabin
Tamme | Adobe Stock

Whether it’s COVID-19 or Norovirus, viruses can spread quickly among large groups in enclosed spaces (like a cruise ship). If you come down with a contagious disease, you’ll likely be quarantined in your cabin for the remainder of the cruise, which will definitely put a damper on your vacation.

To avoid getting sick at sea, follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s guidelines:

  • Wash your hands often
  • Get plenty of rest
  • Drink lots of water
  • Leave the area if you see someone get sick
  • Wear a well-fitting mask indoors and in crowded spaces
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth

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