Something about travel—planes, trains, and automobiles—plus ships, leaves us scratching our heads over the 2007 album, We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank? Makes us wonder: Was American indie rock band Modest Mouse trying to tell us something about the open water? With the lyrics, "Was it ever worth it? Was there all that much to gain? Well, we knew we missed the boat. And we'd already missed the plane."
Should you buy travel insurance for the cruise…etc?
Despite its name, Modest Mouse’s “Missed the Boat,” is a surprisingly optimistic song about life’s little mishaps, and the happy irony to it all, even on vacation.
Despite its title, life is an adventure, so here’s to adventure time! Here’s to having the Cojones to venture from home in the first place! And even if your vacation turns into another National Lampoon’s vacation, before you decide whether a cruise might be for you, here is a list of 15 things the cruise lines don’t readily tell us, good or bad, to know if it’s worth it to set sail.
According to the Reader’s Digest poll on cruise lines, major cruise lines train their employees against pirate attacks. Somali pirate ships, boat people, those exist. In 2008, more than 130 merchant ships were attacked by Somali pirates in the Gulf of Aden, an increase of more than 200 percent from the previous year, according to the International Maritime Bureau.
Makes us wonder, do they train passengers as well on how to prepare for a pirate attack? Sounds like something out of Pirates of the Caribbean. With a full-on cannonball propulsion certificate for the first matey to climb the flagpole? Ok, that might be something to incorporate in a cabaret theme for the entertainers on board if not the ship passengers, themselves. Oceania’s Rubacky says that the opportunity for piracy remains low and that more training is provided for passengers and crew than at airports, to reduce the threat of attack.
Desert costs. Liquor costs. Cork unscrewing costs. Debauchery costs and so does insomnia. So which is the worst? Separating from the internet, for the 21st century addicts. Is there a freeing affect for those who spend not only their vacations at sea, but also their vocations? And there may be no need to sport extravagances of internet with so much to see and do. A break from technology. A break from real life, if such a thing can occur.
Though most passengers aren’t allowed to bring on their own liquor, and are forced to buy it at extravagant prices, a plus to this is that if a bottle is not finished, cruise waiters mark it with your room number and save it for another night. But who doesn’t finish the bottle? Let’s be honest. For the cruise line, this limits debauchery and the number of messes to clean up by the morning.
The long wave goodbye at the dock is a bonus for the sentimental sort who feel a sense like an immigrant embarking to a new land, like maybe their ancestors must have felt, and the subtle sweetness in missing home and family intertwined with new adventure. And ships have come a long way from the coming to America days. If anyone has seen Brooklyn, based on the Colm Tóibín novel, the main character, played by Saoirse Ronan, must share a bathroom with a neighboring cabin while they spend all night sick and vomiting from the food, the seasickness or both. Guess the only difference is the epic goodbye at the ports, and this alone maybe something to get a person on board; a new chance, a shattering of a dimension.
Expatriate law grows a bit murky. It can go for the criminal, as in the circumstance in which one seeks insolvency from a crime by venturing to a tropical island. In Neil Gaiman’s Anasi Boys, the main character’s boss settles in St. Andrews after swindling his investors’ money into offshore accounts. But don’t worry, he gets his. Real life stories exist, murder mysteries of the high sea, inking it further in the Bermuda Triangle flood of mystery.
Natalie Woods, the American actress of West Side Story mysteriously drowned while on a yacht with her husband, actor Robert Wagner in the Pacific Ocean off Catalina Island. Though she was not on a cruise ship, her death still remains a mystery today. What goes to sea, stays at sea.
This leads into the insinuation of the wavering labor laws on the open sea. An illegal might work on a cruise ship and be treated poorly or underpaid, many report. According to some, the crew, including those undervalued workers hail from impoverished countries and board cruise lines as cooks, engines cleaner, maids, and the like. Developing nations such as the Philippines, Indonesia and Honduras, are regions that might make up part of the population of cruise ship personnel. According to William Terry, a Clemson University professor who studies the industry, workers can earn as little as $1,000 a month working 10-to-14-hour days, while at sea for stretches of up to a year. Cruise ships may pay more than what some workers might earn at home, but the havoc it wreaks on their bodies and spirits can be somewhat tremendous if true.
An offset to these standards, advocates are pushing the Maritime Labor Convention’s new referendum to cruise line ethics, including: a set number of hours a seafarer can work per week not exceeding 91 and a standard to accommodations, which Douglas Stevenson, director of the Center for Seafarers’ Rights is in favor of.
Why? Because there are all kinds of noises, backlash from the waves, fumes, or noise from the entertainment. Choosing the right cabin is important if you want to wake up rested.
There are four types of cabins that are separate from cabin locations. Consider both location and type when choosing a cabin. First off, the four different cabin types include: as standard inside, ocean view, balconied, or suite. An inside cabin on a cruise ship does not have a porthole, window, or balcony is called the standard inside and is usually the cheapest option, also known as the inside stateroom. Some say that the veranda cabins are largely overrated, but this is a personal preference. They can range from 25 percent more to double the price of a standard inside cabin.
As for location, lower deck cabins are privy to engine and motion noise as well as the casting of the anchor as few times per day. They are also further from the common areas.
Higher deck accommodations offer sun roofs and are closer to the pools but they are pricier and seasickness is more intense at the higher levels.
Midship cabins come with the main thoroughfare, close to amenities but there will be lots of passersby in the hallway. That being said, you are close to the entertainment and the food.
Then there are aft cabins and bow cabins. Aft, the front, for the sailor at heart, who wants the wind in their hair and the salt in their eyes. The bow, or rear, offers a panoramic, but sometimes the privacy of these are lacking. The upper deck can look down into the cabins.
Those affiliated with the aft cabins might witness the sludge produced by the ship which it tracks through the water. The wave of pollution a medium-sized ship leaves behind is 210,000 gallons of blackwater — enough fill about 10 backyard swimming pools, according to a recent study sponsored by non-profit advocacy group, Friends of the Earth. Blackwater is the toilet flushing contaminates which includes: ammonia, copper, zinc, which aren’t treated properly—they “don’t measure up,” says author Ross Klein who conducted a study on pollution produced by these vessels.
If following requirements, ships are supposed to treat all blackwater and discharge it at least four miles from shore. Yet, this unfortunately isn’t inspected to the degree that restaurant cleanliness might be inspected.
Reports indicate that cruise lines don’t report too drastic a number of lost sales after a catastrophe at sea. Are consumers of cruise lines more loyal than other ventures? Major catastrophes that don’t lower the cruise line's business have some wrinkling their eyebrows…did all those Somali pirates make landlubbers afraid to sail? It seems with the right deals and the right advertising, adventurers dare to venture onto cruise lines; despite past injury. Does this work as a positive for mankind or tell us that we are all just scavengers, looking for a good deal, with no pause for putting ourselves in danger?
Seems that for one thing, cruise lines have not shown dramatic losses with economic or security declines…perhaps the same for planes. When it comes to travel, we simply have to take our chances and we are brave for doing it.
Feel like you’re bound in a tight itinerary and want more breathing room from your cruise experience? Some experts suggest instead of booking on-shore event all-inclusively with the liner, which might have you running from place to place, you should plan and pay individually for your own entertainment on-shore. The all-inclusive deals the liners offer usually jack up prices, rather than save you money. But one good thing about the boxed deal is if the events you booked with the liner lasts a bit longer, the ship won’t leave without you. However, if you book them yourself, beware the boat will not wait. Show up with your flip-flops, the wind in your hair, slide in the gate with your sun bonnet behind you, but don’t miss the boat.
Have an entertainer or a theme cruise in mind and the myriad of options available to the public is practically limitless. To name a few: there’s the Cougar cruise, Startrekker cruise, Dancing with the Stars: At Sea, including competitive dance-offs, Top Chef on Celebrity Cruises, and Disney Princess Cruises to name a few. The Queen Mary II brings the first planetarium aboard a cruise ship in a ginormous luxury cruise liner. Or for a smaller, more in-tune voyeur, the 700-passenger Azamara, prides itself on defying the beaten path, and finding exotic hideaways, permitting its passengers to stay at destinations of their own choosing with late-night and overnight stays at ports for landlubbers not accustomed to the sea. There is even a Cougar Cruise, making us wonder if it’s a cruise or a dating profile, or both?
If you don’t like close talkers, consider your bubble being invaded all the time. Beware of your personal belongings and your body, as well. Sexual assault runs high on cruises, as in the general merriment, people become gaudy. People go ‘overboard’ both literally and figuratively. Or you may just want to push them overboard. Robberies don’t generally happen on the large-scale, yet in 2012, there was 22 incidents of passengers robbed at gunpoint while returning from an excursion in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. So what you want when traveling is to have fun but beware, carry a stick, a paddle or just stick with a buddy if you want to be safe and prevent anything from happening.
Sea sickness occurs when motion detected by the inner ear, which controls balance, is different from the motion you visualize. Pregnant women and children are the most susceptible to sea sickness. Staring at a single point can be an aid to sea sickness, but how does one do this when the ocean is constantly rocking the ship? Rumi said, “You are not a drop in the ocean. You are the entire ocean in a drop.” How’s that for sea sickness? Maybe Yoga on a boat is like earning a black belt in karate. And finding your chakra is like, epic. To conquer the sea might be a channel to stream on YouTube, but you can be like Kate and Leonardo on the bow of the ship, that’s impressive.
Cruise insurance, which is generally 4 to 10 percent of the trip cost, is valued by some and discarded by others. Insurance plans cover things like baggage protection, cancellation, medical expenses, and emergency evacuation. Besides buying insurance from the cruise line, there are a number of independent companies who offer oftentimes better rates. One thing USA travel says to consider is that any insurance will cover medical insurance in the place of the incident. For example, if you have any predisposed illnesses, and you’re on a South American cruise, you will be taken care of in South America for treatment.
Uncanny adventurers might seek “extreme sports coverage” which can be worth the investment for the deep sea fishermen as well as the bungee jumper, or as Haraty, an expert in the field says “That’s especially true for the Great White shark cage diving in South Africa and Australia.”
Whether you vie to experience Alaska’s inner-passage, explore the newly opened Cuba, island hop the Greek Isles, contest with the Dancing with the Stars (on Sea) elites, there are low-key and dramatic cruises to fit your personality.
Like seeing a bear in Yellowstone Park, winking at a stranger, or finding the golden ticket, if you look for magic you just might find it. Or it may come to you unexpectedly, no matter what your cruise profile says. What does yours say about you? Are you seeking love, adventure, mystique, a well-spring to become immortal? Dream on. And hope on. And never stop living with the turns of the tide; there may be something miraculous, past all the shutter shock that goes with the pros and cons. Feel it out, there is more if you just keep on going…whatever your destination.