A number of cruise lines have recently unveiled extra-long cruise itineraries, hoping to target Baby Boomers with three-to-six month cruises visiting multiple tourist destinations all over the world.
Companies like Oceania (owned by the Norwegian Cruise Line) and Princess Cruises are booking cruises lasting well over 100 nights. The characteristically adventurous and often wealthier Baby Boomer generation offers an attractive market for cruise lines as this generation heads into its retirement years.
Now, cruise lines have always made a point to advertise to American seniors. Retirees are an attractive demographic to cruise companies – they are often looking to travel during off seasons, and they usually budget much more time and money to spend on vacation.
And the attraction is mutual. Seniors enjoy cruises vacations because they are relatively low-stress ways to travel the world. Most cruises offer complete packages that take care of everything, from meals to transportation to tour guides. Those who are restricted in terms of ability and mobility can participate in cruise activities as much or as little as they feel comfortable.
The longer cruises mentioned above may present an increased degree of risk to aged passengers, however. While almost all modern cruises have medical professionals and facilities on-board, this does not offer a guarantee that, in the event of injury or illness, seniors will have access to all the medical care they could receive on land. Other risks may not be as apparent. For example, the stairs and deck on board a ship can become slippery, presenting a greater risk that older individuals could slip and fall.
To help keep you and your loved ones safe aboard extended cruises, we have compiled a list of safety tips and guidelines for longer cruise vacations. Whether you are a passenger of advanced age or you are concerned for the well-being of a loved one, here are steps you can take to ensure a safe, happy, and memorable cruise experience.
Tips for Taking Long Cruise Ship Trips for Senior Passengers
Book in advance. If you are planning on accompanying a senior on board one of these cruises, booking ahead of time can ensure your room is located close to theirs in the event of an emergency. Even if you are traveling alone, booking ahead of time can help you get a desirable location close to the boat’s facilities you will use the most – such as the dining hall or pool. On a short cruise, long walks to dinner are inconvenient at best. On long cruises, they can become a serious burden on a senior’s well-being.
Inform your doctor. Before any long trip, it is a good idea to talk to a medical professional about you or your loved ones’ vacation plans. They can provide insight into the best way to address specific conditions aboard the unique environment of a cruise ship, as well as foreign countries. They can also get in touch with medical professionals on board, communicating the health-related needs of you or your loved one. Finally, you will have to speak with a doctor if you need to obtain an adequate supply of medication for the duration of the trip. You may even be able to get your prescriptions a bit early, which will allow you to check them ahead of time and make sure you weren’t given the wrong medication.
Communicate with cruise staff At the time of booking, let the cruise staff or customer service department know if you have any specific medical and health concerns. Cruise companies, more often than not, have amenities suited for medical conditions associated with aging – such as showers with grab bars and wheelchair/scooter-accessible rooms. Alerting the cruise staff beforehand is the best way to ensure your specific needs will be met.
Avoid slips and falls. As the length of cruises increases, so does the chance that a slip and fall accident can occur. Slip and falls can be a serious danger for aged passengers – according to the CDC, 1 in 3 individuals over the age of 65 slip and fall every year.
Keep an eye out for either yourself or your loved one, and identify potential hazards. These might be oncoming storms that cause the ship to make abrupt maneuvers, or spots where other passengers have spilled drinks. It’s also important to keep an eye out for patches of the deck that have not been properly maintained, as the non-slip surface can become worn down over time. Whenever possible, travel along areas that have a safety rail within arm’s reach.
Even precautions such as these may not help if the cruise staff or company itself is guilty of cruise ship negligence. If you have been injured or made ill on a cruise of any length, accidents and injuries are under the jurisdiction of maritime law, a complicated and specialized branch that requires a legal team experienced in that field. At Lawlor, White & Murphey, we have been making sure that our clients have a voice against giant cruise lines for over 40 years combined, so we know exactly how to help you in your claim.
About the Author:A partner at Lawlor, White & Murphey and a distinguished personal injury lawyer, Ben Murphey tries complex disputes that include civil appeals, maritime and admiralty claims, wrongful death, and labor disputes. Mr. Murphey has been recognized for his excellence in the area of personal injury litigation by being rewarded with a 10/10 Avvo Rating and named a Super Lawyers “Rising Star” for the last four consecutive years (2011-2014). Mr. Murphey regularly tries cases in state and federal courts around the country, being admitted to practice before all Florida courts and the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.