An Australian woman fell from a cruise ship in the South Pacific in April, and the news has made some tourists a bit squeamish about whether to consider stepping onboard for a family vacation or romantic getaway. Have no fear. Falls from cruises ships are rare, so cruise ship getaways continue to be safe vacations.

However, when choosing to take a sea cruise, always remember these two rules: Don’t get drunk resulting in doing something foolhardy or dangerous, and frequently wash your hands to prevent the spreading of disease.

Drunkenness often source of accidents

Oftentimes when a person falls overboard, it can be attributed to a reckless or deliberate accident involving drunkenness.

In the past 18 years, an estimated 300 people have fallen overboard from cruise ships. Last year, 17 incidents were reported, and, so far, in 2018 there have been five incidents. In essence, these numbers are low, considering that more than 20 million people take cruises annually.

Illnesses seem to be bigger problem

The spread of illnesses and disease, though, far outweigh any potential cruise ship danger, including falling overboard. That is why it is so critical to constantly washing your hands – the most likely culprit in spreading disease.

Gastrointestinal illness outbreaks occur more frequently on cruise ships than you’d think. So far this year, there have been three reported incidents, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). There were 11 in 2017, and 13 in 2016.

Wash your hands

The highly contagious norovirus has been responsible for a number of outbreaks of gastrointestinal illnesses on cruise ships. An infected person onboard can become the modern-day Typhoid Mary by quickly spreading the virus through hand contact on:

  • Ship railings
  • Bathroom doors
  • The food buffet

If the virus enters the food, beware as it may rapidly spread. Consider avoiding buffet meals altogether and ordering from a ship’s restaurant instead.

Remember to follow the two cruise ship rules to constantly wash your hands, and avoid getting drunk on alcoholic beverages. As long as you do this, you’ll potentially avoid any embarrassment, trouble, injuries, illnesses or even death.