Home Cruise Safely Vacation Continuity-Disaster Recovery Plan

Most well-managed businesses have a Business Continuity-Disaster Recovery Plan. While they are often separate documents and apply to different aspects of a business, they both deal with worst-case scenarios. They layout plans of action that can be taken immediately without a great deal of research. Often agreements are already in place ready to be executed if the need arises.  Airline pilots spend hundreds, if not thousands, of hours in flight simulators practicing different emergency procedures. Still, when they enter a cockpit they have written checklist for all of those procedures. While your vacation may not be as shattering as what most major business plans for, or as critical as what a pilot is trained for, there may be elements you should plan ahead of time for that may be life saving.

Early Preparations

There are two very important items to consider before making your departure preparations. First, is making sure you have a passport and that it will not expire within six months of the last day of your vacation. It’s possible to take a cruise without a passport if the cruise starts and finishes in the same U.S port, however, there are a number of possible situations that could warrant a need for your passport.  If you have to leave the ship for an emergency, it could be medical or a problem back at home, you would need to get a passport at the American embassy before returning home. If you miss the ship at one port you will not be able to fly to the next port without a passport. Travel insurance is a must have item, most U.S. insurance programs, including government programs, do not cover expenses outside of the United States.  Getting a good travel insurance program is a must.

Create your Emergency Response Team

The worst case to prepare for is a situation where you are not able to make decisions on your own behalf. A prime example would be a medical emergency where you are not able to respond. Ideally, you should appoint two representatives, one an adult traveling with you and the second an adult not traveling with you. Here are some functions they might provide:

  • Medical Power of Attorney: It is always a good idea to have someone holding your medical power of attorney. When traveling internationally it is even more important because many countries do not have requirements to provide life saving measures to patients who do not give consent or are not able to pay. Generally, a spouse or an adult blood family member can give that consent even if not in writing. If you are traveling with someone who is not designated your medical power of attorney, their consent may not be accepted unless they have written authority. Even with blood family members, it’s best to give someone with you your medical power of attorney. Medical powers of attorney generally allow multiple individuals to be granted rights, so if person A is not available than person B can make a decision. If you are not traveling with a family member, you may wish to limit the scope of authority that person has. As an example, a family member at home may be the only one with the authority to withhold life support procedures. Ensure both parties fully understand your viewpoints and limitations.
  • Access to documents. Both of these representatives should have access to your important travel documents. These could be paper copies or digital back ups. The representative at home should also have access to an original copy of your birth certificate and one photo ID.

Copies of Important Documents

There are a number of documents that you need to have copies of in case of lost luggage. It’s a great idea to maintain digital copies as well. In fact, duplicated digital copies are not overdoing it. Save a set of the documents on a USB device and another set on a cloud server. There should also be a set for your representative at home.

  • Passport: You should have a couple printed copies of your passport as well as digital scans. Some cruises require you to surrender your passport when embarking. If not, you should secure your passport and carry a copy of it with you. Some countries require you to carry your passport with you, but those that do generally accept a clean and clear copy.
  • Travel insurance: Make a printed copy of your travel insurance information and carry it with you. Keep an additional copy stored in your back ups. It is also a good idea to have a copy of the policy available in case a question arises.
  • Medical Power of Attorney: See item mentioned above.
  • Passport photos: It’s a good habit to carry a few passport photos in your wallet. While most places are using digital images, there are still times when you might need a photo. Some shore excursions may require a visa to be processed onboard the ship.
  • Tickets: Have an extra set of all your tickets in printed form as well as in your digital backup.
  • Emergency contacts: Have a summary page with important phone numbers. Include:
    • The address and phone numbers of the American embassy or consulate for the countries you will visit. In most countries the American Embassy has a dedicated 24 hour number for American citizens with an emergency. You might also want to add these numbers to the numbers stored on your phone.
    • Medical insurance policy number and emergency contact numbers.
    • List of all medications you are taking and all allergies.
    • Methods to contact your representatives.

Other preparations

There are other items you may want to consider, such as bringing a prepaid card with a few days funds on it and a small amount of cash kept separate from the rest. A standard for travel is an extra supply of any required medications and a travelers pack of over the counter medication. A couple of loperamide tablets or some sinus medication can save the day. Pay close attention to the life boat drill. But most important is to discuss with your other travelers and your representative back home what could go wrong and what to do about it.

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.