Abstract Twenty-five girls who survived the sinking of the cruise ship ‘Jupiter’ were compared with three other groups of girls–71 controls from a separate school; 46 girls in the same school who had not wanted to go on the cruise; and 13 girls who were in a ‘near miss’ group in that they wanted to go but did not get places. All completed the Fear Survey Schedule for Children (revised form), the Children's Manifest Anxiety Scale and the Birleson Depression Inventory. Survivors did not become generally more fearful. Rather, they developed significantly greater fears to stimuli related to the traumatic event. The results are discussed in relation to the conditioning theory of the acquisition of phobias.