Cruise Ship Phobia

The exact nature of cruise ship phobia differs from person to person

Cruise ship at sunset
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A fear of cruise ships and a phobia of cruise ships are not the same and sometimes only a trained clinician can tell the difference. Cruise ship phobia is not a fear of the ocean or even of boats in general. In fact, it's possible you may feel no fear about going on your father's small boat, while large ships terrify you.

You don't have to be in physical proximity to a cruise ship or even on board to have a phobic reaction. For example, photos and drawings of the Titanic could cause anxiety. Even a simple mention of the ship's name could trigger you.

The exact nature of this fear differs from person to person, which is common with phobias

Treating Cruise Ship Phobia

Fortunately, if you are troubled by this condition, you can treat cruise ship phobia like you would any other phobia. If you think you have a fear of cruise ships, speak to a mental health professional who can help you diagnose your phobia. 

There are two main ways to treat a phobia: cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) and exposure-based therapy. A psychotherapist can help you use CBT to challenge irrational thoughts you may be having that contribute to your phobia. For example, if you fear the cruise ship will sink, your therapist may walk you through statistics about cruise ship safety as well as ship design and emergency preparedness. 

Exposure-based therapy works on treating your phobia head-on. When you are afraid, it is natural to want to run away or avoid the object causing you fear. Exposure therapy can help you conquer your fears by addressing and engaging them.

Exposure therapy is conducted gradually, meaning you won't have to fully face your fears on day one. Rather, you may start by talking about cruise ships or looking at some photos. After a period of time, determined with your therapist, you may work your way up to visiting a ship or even spending some time onboard. 

1 Source
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  1. Bandelow B, Reitt M, Röver C, Michaelis S, Görlich Y, Wedekind D. Efficacy of treatments for anxiety disorders: a meta-analysis. Int Clin Psychopharmacol. 2015;30(4):183-92. doi:10.1097/yic.0000000000000078

By Lisa Fritscher
Lisa Fritscher is a freelance writer and editor with a deep interest in phobias and other mental health topics.