Cruising:Paradise or Hell?

Why would anyone on earth want to take a cruise?  I am probably one of the few people left who has never been on a cruise, but every time I start to think it might be a good way to spend a vacation, I encounter a horror story.  The latest involves a Carnival cruise ship that experienced a fire in the engine room.  The vessel was left disabled for days: no hot water, no air conditioning, no hot food, no working toilets for a while.

And let’s not forget the risk to cruise ships of attack by pirates.  Last year, an Italian cruise ship off the coast of Africa fought off pirates, as reported here.   Other vessels have been rerouted or had their sailings cancelled due to fears of similar attacks.  Pirates…really!!

My favorite threat, though, is the invisible norovirus–better known as the “stomach flu.”  Every year, reports about hundreds of passengers being sickened by the bug fill the news.  It’s no surprise that outbreaks occur when you throw a few thousand people into a confined space where they share handrails, serving utensils, elevator buttons, and so on.  And the cramped quarters don’t help either.   This threat is the one that is most troubling to me because it is the one that could be avoided if only people maintained a decent standard of hygiene. WASH YOUR HANDS, PEOPLE!!!

And yet, the commercials make it look so inviting.  Lounging poolside, fine dining, fun activities, and trips to those tourist traps at your ports of call.  Who wouldn’t be tempted by the idea of a vacation that involves so little planning and organization.  I’m always exhausted trying to book flights, multiple hotels, rental cars, restaurants, and activities or sights.  There are so many maps to print out and tickets to buy in advance, parking to figure out and check-in or check-out times to worry about.

I don’t know if I’ll ever decide to try a cruise.  Plenty of people I know have had great experiences and choose to do it all again multiple times.  But it’s so hard to get past the news: dead in the water, pirates, hundreds sickened…

None of those things ever happened on “The Love Boat.”


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