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Out on the ocean, you’re at the mercy of the weather. Here’s what to know about sailing in rough seas.

Cruise ships are very safe (and stable)

Modern ships use state of the art technology and stabilisers to minimise their movement on the ocean. In a storm, these will keep things remarkably stable in the face of huge swells. Ships also have an advanced anti-heeling system that blasts water from one side to the other to counteract the rolling of the waves.

The chances of actually capsizing are extremely rare as ships can list (tilt) up to 60 degrees and still recover.

The crew will tell you what to do

It might be your first time in a storm, but the crew have seen it all before. They will go into ‘storm mode’ at the first sign of trouble and begin closing outdoor areas, packing away breakables and (in extreme cases) fastening down furniture. You’ll be given instructions about what to do to ensure your safety. This can range from staying inside to being restricted to your cabins until the weather passes. Listen to them and take their advice – no questions asked.

You might get sick

If you’re prone to seasickness (or even if you’re not), really rough weather is going to be a challenge for you. The ship will be thrown around in the waves and you’ll definitely be able to feel it onboard. Find a calm spot, like your cabin, and stay put until the worst is over. This is also a good time to open up the nausea medication or grab some from the medical centre.

The itinerary might have to change

At some point, the captain may need to make a decision to alter the ship’s itinerary because of the weather. Their key responsibility is to keep the passengers safe, which could mean changing course to avoid the weather or missing a port stop. While this can be frustrating, the captain would only make this decision when it is absolutely necessary and it’s always in your best interest.

If things get really bad…

You could be coming home early. It’s very rare for the weather to be so bad that a cruise has to be cancelled completely but it does happen. You will either return to home port or, if it’s not safe to cruise that way, another nearby port. Once again, remember that this is all in the name of safety. The cruise line should offer some compensation for the cancelled voyage as a goodwill gesture, however because weather is considered an ‘act of God’ they are not legally obligated to.