Family vacations provide countless memories that you and/or family will cherish for years to come. Most of today’s major cruise lines offer “family cruises,” and have popular “kid’s clubs” that they advertise as providing entertainment for children while giving the adults some much-needed alone time. The cruise lines tell parents that their kids will be safe and supervised while they are under the watch and care of counselors. Thanks to features like this, many parents fall in love with the notion of taking their children on a cruise, believing that their children will be safe from harm while under the watchful eye of the cruise line’s staff or that their children will be safe when exploring the ship on their own as the cruise lines claim their ships are safe. This unfortunately is not always the case as accidents involving children still happen on cruise ships, regardless of whether they are exploring the ship with friends, playing in the arcade, or even when they are attending the cruise line’s camp. Thankfully, there are many things parents can do to ensure the safety of their children while on a cruise.

For years, Michael Flanagan has aggressively fought for the rights of passengers who’ve been injured while on a cruise, including minors. If your child was recently injured on a cruise, you may be entitled to compensation if the statute of limitations has not passed. For a free case evaluation, contact the Flanagan Personal Injury and Wrongful Death Law Firm today at 305-638-4143. In the meantime, read on for tips on how to keep your children safe at sea.

Diligent Supervision

It goes without saying that proper parental supervision is important. However, there are unique conditions and situations that require extra care on a cruise ship. For example, remain close to your child and hold hands when he or she is near deck railings to ensure there is no opportunity for your child to climb on or play with the railings. Likewise, do not allow your children to play on the balcony of your stateroom as this will ensure there is no opportunity for him or her to fall overboard. Parents should also watch their children, especially younger children, while at the pool as many cruise lines do not employ lifeguards and there have sadly been several drowning accidents involving young children swimming in the ship’s pool. It is also worth noting that many cruise ships offer sports activities such as zip lining or surfing, and you should not only watch your child while they participate in any such activity, but you should have a discussion with them  about what activities you feel, based on their age and abilities, will be safe for them to do to ensure that they do not try to engage in any such activities when you are not around.

If your child is older and is going to explore the ship on his or her own or with other children, make sure that your child has your contact information and knows your stateroom number so that they can provide it to the cruise ship staff in the event of an accident or emergency.

Buddy System

The old adage of “safety in numbers” holds true whether on land or at sea, and this practice is particularly useful when traveling with multiple children or a group of families. If possible, it can be helpful to diversify the ages of the children within the group. This will allow the older children to exercise a degree of supervision over the younger children. When you are on a ship for days or weeks, it is likely that your children will befriend new kids their age. While this can be beneficial for implementing a diverse buddy system, it’s advisable to meet the new friends and their parents to ensure awareness and approval of new acquaintances.

Stateroom Safety

When your children make new friends on a cruise ship, he or she may be invited back to another child’s stateroom. Whether it is because of inclement weather or because your child’s new acquaintance forgot something in his or her room, it is never advisable for a child to venture to any part of a cruise ship without parental supervision other than public spaces. Unfortunately, you cannot be sure of what is waiting for your child on the other side of a stateroom door. Likewise, if it is necessary for your child to be alone in your room, be sure to lay some ground rules about when it is permissible for him or her to open the door for others.

It is also extremely important to remind your children to never go into a stateroom or other enclosed, private space with an adult that they do not know. This includes both passengers and cruise ship staff, and even the camp counselors. Sexual predators are as much a threat on cruise ships as they are on land, and you should not be lulled into a false sense of security while on a cruise ship.

Stay Sober

Cruises are a time for relaxation, fun, and enjoyment, and cruise ships offer a wide array of alcoholic beverages to passengers. While there is nothing wrong with enjoying some drinks, a large number of cruise ship accidents and injuries are the result of overconsumption. For parents, if your children are joining you on your cruise vacation, it is important that at least one parent or responsible adult remain sober. For teenagers, they may feel pressured if their newly-found friends are experimenting with drugs or alcohol. Just like at home, it is a good idea to talk about the legal repercussions and your expectations as they relate to any experimentation.

A Final Tip

When your family is traveling with thousands of other passengers that you do not know, a cruise ship is similar to a small, floating city. This allows for many conditions and situations in which children can be injured or otherwise harmed. Careful supervision, frank conversations, and proper planning go a long way in ensuring your child’s safety while on board a cruise.

If you found the above information helpful, be sure to check back for the second part of this article where we’ll provide additional safety tips.

If your child has suffered a cruise ship accident or injury, or has been the victim of abuse by another passenger or a member of the cruise ship’s staff, you want a maritime lawyer who’s well-versed in issues such as admiralty law, ticket contracts, and statutes of limitation. Michael Flanagan is knowledgeable in each of these areas and he’s obtained millions of dollars in settlements for clients who’ve suffered injury due to the negligence of major cruise lines.

Contact our office today at 305-638-4143 to schedule your case evaluation. We look forward to helping you!