By The Washington Post · Hannah Knowles · FEATURES, TRAVEL · Oct 20, 2019 - 8:45 PM
Stories abound of tourists dangerously eager for the perfect photograph - and a group that caters to travelers has had enough.
Cruise company Royal Caribbean said this week that it has banned a passenger for life after she was spotted "recklessly" standing on a balcony railing for a picture. The guest and her companion, who helped with the shot, disembarked in Jamaica "as a result of their actions," the company said in a statement to media. The companion is banned too.
A fellow passenger on the Allure of the Seas ship told CNN he witnessed the risky photo-shoot from his balcony and brought it to the crew's attention. He documented the transgression in a grainy picture of his own posted online that shows a woman gazing out at the ocean in a blue bathing suit, hands held above her head.
Royal Caribbean warns against "unsafe behavior" in its guest conduct policy, saying that "sitting, standing, laying or climbing on, over or across any exterior or interior railings or other protective barriers" is forbidden.
The company also lays out consequences for violations, though its policy makes no mention of lifetime bans. Guests kicked off a ship have to pay their own way home, the rules state.
Many companies, tourist sites and government agencies have tried to curb dangerous photography, declaring "no selfie zones" and launching public awareness campaigns. The National Park Service has put out a guide to taking pictures, while Yellowstone National Park asks people to pledge they will not compromise their safety or their surroundings for a shot.
"No picture is worth hurting yourself, others, or the park," Yellowstone's website says.
Several years ago, Disneyland banned selfie sticks, lamenting that they had "become a growing safety concern for both our guests and cast." The announcement came days after a roller coaster shut down mid-ride due to a woman's selfie attempt.
The consequences of an ill-conceived photo can be dire. Last year, researchers tallied 259 people who died while taking selfies over a six-year period. Causes of death ranged from drowning to falling to electrocution, their study said, and victims tended to be young.
"The selfie deaths have become a major public health problem," lead author Agam Bansal told The Washington Post.
But some travelers are not swayed by all the warnings. Under fire last month for broadcasting a precarious-looking photo stunt to their 100,000-plus Instagram followers, one "influencer" couple dismissed concerns: "We have never put ourselves in danger for our photos and we never will," they told Fox News.