Ships are about as safe a means of transportation as airplanes are, and the risk of becoming the victim of a fatal cruise ship accident are less that of a car ride. Modernized ships are constructed to withstand most of the elements that they encounter; even after sustaining heavy damage, they are designed to remain afloat. However, no ship is completely immune to sinking. If you are ever out at sea on a sinking cruise ship, your chances of making it out alive will improve if you focus on staying calm and listen to the crew's orders.
Cruise ship crew members receive countless hours of emergency training, and part of their routine is preparation for a scenario when the vessel is going under. If the ship is filling up with water and clearly heading towards submersion, the crew initiates the first of many steps to ensure passenger safety, the first of which is beginning the evacuation process and notifying the Coast Guard of the problem. Ships are now required to be equipped with lifeboats containing supplies for survival. They also must make life jackets available to everyone inside their cabin
If you don't panic and follow directions, the procedure of abandoning ship should go fairly smoothly. To ensure maximum safety during your voyage, begin by giving your undivided attention to the captain and crew during the safety briefing at the beginning of the trip. No two ships are exactly alike, so don't take it for granted if you've been on a cruise before. The speaker will touch on such valuable topics such as where the life jacket is located and what you should do in the event of an emergency. You will be assigned to a lifeboat and informed how to reach it as quickly as possible. Do not hesitate to ask questions during the briefing, and when it is over, make it a point to find your life jacket and lifeboat.
Familiarize yourself with the location of the lifeboat well enough so that in a situation of poor visibility (e.g., fire) you can still make your way to safety. Normally, your cabin is stocked with a safety informational card or a poster that reviews the subject matter from the briefing. Also, take the time to try on your life jacket to verify that it fits snugly and that you know how to quickly put it on. If the life jacket appears to be damaged or fits improperly, ask for a replacement.
If the captain announces over the intercom that an evacuation is in place, try to recall what you learned at the briefing and from reviewing the materials in your cabin. Follow the advice of any crew member who is there to provide assistance. Be sure to dress warmly in clothing and footwear that will still allow you mobility in case you are stranded in your lifeboat for an extended period of time. Wear your life jacket outside your clothes. Proceed in a calm and orderly fashion to your designated lifeboat, and help disabled passengers board the boat if possible. Once you're aboard the lifeboat and crew members are present, listen to them carefully.
Your lifeboat should contain provisions, flares, blankets, and communication technology. Newer lifeboats are outfitted with homing devices that can be turned on to help rescue teams locate you. Try to relax and be considerate to others around you to reduce tension until the Coast Guard gets there.