Do We Really Need Tips on How Not to Fall Off a Cruise Ship: Perhaps We Do

It may seem silly for an article’s content to be based around “how not to fall off of a cruise ship”, but’s recent article How Not To Fall Off a Cruise Ship did just that.

What isn’t silly is that, according to research provided by the trade group Cruise Lines International Association (CLIA), an average of 19 people per year go overboard from cruise ships (stats from 2009 – 2016).


While millions of people take cruises every year (between 22 and 25 million per year depending on which source is referenced) the likelihood of falling off a cruise ship is remarkably, tremendously low. Yet, isn’t 19 (or 24 in 2016) still too high a number?

And is an average of 19 people overboard an accurate number? shows less (though it’s still many: the following is a list of known incidents of passengers and crew who have gone overboard from cruise ships since 2000). Notes on this website are listed as: Rescued after 2 hours in water, Crew, Rescued after 10 hours, Climbing between cabins and more. shows a little higher average of 21.5 over the last 10 years (2009 – 2018) at its webpage: Cruise and Ferry Passengers and Crew Overboard. The website refers to the incidents with shorthand notes like: Passenger overboard, Crew member overboard – rescued 22 hours later, Pax overboard – body recovered and more.

fall off cruise

According to the CLIA, “safety regulations, including uniform minimum railing and balcony heights, and structural barriers are also in place to prevent passengers who are acting responsibly from simply falling off a cruise ship,” said Sarah Kennedy, a spokesperson for CLIA. “There are no known cases of someone acting responsibly who has accidentally fallen over the railing of a cruise ship,” she added.”

“Acting responsibly?”

That’s certainly a claim that can be disputed. And certainly there are numerous cases of cruise passenger deaths where the passenger was acting irresponsibly and ultimately died from their injuries. Alcohol related accidents and deaths are relatively common and can be found with a quick Google search – like this one where an inebriated Carnival Cruise passenger fell from his cabin balcony onto a deck below and was killed.

fall off cruise ship

Insightful tips from While these may be tips written with a little tongue in cheek agenda, the reality is that passengers do need a reminder. Their tips include:

1) Take the weather seriously
2) Wear appropriate shoes
3) Stay sober
4) Beware arguments
5) Don’t do the “Titanic”
6) Be careful with selfies

But what’s the chances you’ll find yourself in a situation where you’re tumbling overboard? Very little. So little in fact that it’s not worth worrying over.

Even National Geographic weighed in with their article: Scared of Falling Off a Cruise Ship? Here’s What You Should Know.

Who is responsible for personal safety on a cruise ship? The cruise lines (Carnival, Royal Caribbean and others) are responsible for the safety of their passengers – that means ensuring railings are high and secure, unsafe or vulnerable areas of the ship are closed to passengers, that camera or overboard alarm systems are working properly (if installed), ensuring that passengers are not drunk or high enough to endanger themselves or others…and certainly much more. When the cruise lines fail to maintain a safe environment for their passengers, they can be found held responsible (or liable).

Certainly, personal responsibility comes into play as well. We’ve written extensively on this as have others like’s 9 Tips or 9 More Tips from NBC News.