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After Costa Concordia disaster: 8 safety tips for cruise ship passengers

The recent cruise ship disaster in Italy has prompted travel industry experts to advise the public about safety steps they can take, not only aboard ships but also in hotels. When the Costa Concordia ran aground off the shore of Tuscany on Jan. 13, roughly 160 yards from the shore of Giglio Island, many of the more than 4,200 passengers and crew on board the ship were reportedly unprepared for the crisis and the evacuation that followed. So far, 11 people are confirmed dead and more than 20 are still missing.

The ship’s captain, Francesco Schettino, has been blamed for the accident, allegedly breaking from the ship’s assigned course, taking it too close to shore. Nancy Dunnan, publisher of TravelSmart Newsletter, urges cruise ship passengers to take precautions to protect themselves and their belongings. She suggests the following:

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A firefighter helicopter flies over the Costa Concordia cruise ship after it ran aground off the west coast of Italy at Giglio island Jan. 19, 2012. No deadline has been set for ending the search for missing people on the wreck of the Italian cruise liner that capsized off the Tuscan island, the chief spokesman of the firefighters said on Thursday.

REUTERS/Paul Hanna

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1. Know the ship's layout

Once you book your tickets, study the location of various exits, life jackets, and rescue boats. Do so either on the ship’s website or request the information from your travel agent or directly from the cruise line. And be sure to locate where your cabin is on the ship – its proximity to life boats, main decks, medical and emergency centers, etc.

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