Allaying the Fears of New Cruisers

| April 9, 2008

A first cruise is often preceded by many questions, fears and doubts. This article allays the concerns of those about to take their first cruise.

While there are many cruise sites on the web, only a very few offer as much as Cruisemates. Take it from me. I've visited literally over one hundred. Just in case someone is thinking, "But he gets paid to write that" I'll let you in on a little secret. I have never been paid for any of my articles published on I contribute articles here because I think it is a great web site.

I remember back when the front page had a blurb next to the message board and "Meet Onboard" links. It said "Cruisemates Interactive Features: Start your vacation now!" That made perfect sense to me once I realized how much pleasure I was having in planning and learning about my first cruise. I personally had many doubts and apprehensions about cruising until I started reading the articles and message boards here. My fear quickly evolved into excitement and anticipation of what I had read as one of the most satisfying vacation experiences anyone can have. I was not disappointed. And so I am now writing this to give to you what I got from CruiseMates when I was still a "cruise virgin."

Taking The Cruise Plunge Okay, maybe that is a poor choice of words, but once a person is finally persuaded to take his or her first cruise, a great deal of fear and apprehension may have been overcome before the final decision was made to actually book the cruise. New cruisers are often apprehensive, and there's more than enough sensationalism out there to influence someone not familiar with cruising to be hesitant. To allay such fears, we hope to address many of these common "first-cruise" apprehensions in this article.

As it is, any form of travel, whether by car, plane, train, bus or ship, entails the unknown to some degree. Most people are not gamblers when it comes to vacation planning, especially a vacation that can cost in the neighborhood of a thousand to fifteen hundred dollars per person. That may sound like a lot of money, but when it comes to cruising you get a tremendous amount of bang for the buck.

When all is said and done, cruising is more than just going to a prime vacation spot. It also means getting to that prime vacation spot via an extremely elegant mode of travel. With a cruise, the phrase "getting there is half the fun" has never been more true. In fact, the cruise itself is often more than half the fun.

But what about that unknown? First of all, you should know that probably in excess of 12,000,000 people will disembark from cruise ships at American ports just this year alone! Such a statistic must convey just how popular cruise vacations have become over just the last twenty years! Nevertheless, there is always apprehension, so to help with those concerns are some facts:

A Few Cruise Statistics Hundreds of thousands of Americans annually receive injuries and well over forty thousand die as a result of vehicle wrecks every year in the United States. Yet of the above twelve million passengers mentioned above, undoubtedly less than a handful will lose their lives as a result of an injury or crime aboard a cruise ship.

Millions of Americans (undoubtedly the majority), will suffer some form of relatively minor food poisoning this year and not even know it, many after eating in restaurants where they would have been appalled had they been aware of the conditions in the kitchen. Most folks will just mark the illness up to an upset stomach or common diarrhea. Cases of food poisoning on cruise ships, however, are actually rather rare. This is due to their immaculate kitchen and food preparation areas, which are often far more sanitary than your average restaurant in your home town.

You may have read or seen on TV the dangers of getting sick from norovirus, that has in recent years been dubbed the "Cruise Virus" even though it is the second most common virus in the United States. The reason it is called the "Cruise Virus" is merely because the United States Department of Health has chosen cruise ships to study the virus. This is because the environment of a cruise ship (a compact environment that encompasses a significant group of people that are separated from both the majority of the millions ashore as well as the germs and viruses that are found everywhere on land) make cruise ships a unique environment to study this illness. As a result of such ongoing study and the preventative measures learned, only around four thousand of the over 11 million passengers who disembarked from cruise ships at American ports last year even contracted the illness.

Could one be seriously assaulted, raped or even murdered on a cruise ship? Yes, such things have happened. Could it happen to you? Statistically, hardly a chance. In fact, you're undoubtedly safer on a cruise ship than walking down a street in the overwhelming number of American towns and cities. Regardless of where you are, prudent behavior and even a casual vigilance are always appropriate whenever a person is in unfamiliar surroundings.

Is the ship going to sink? There are no unsinkable ships. Having said that, the chances range somewhere between slim and none if you're sailing from an American port. The last time except during WWII that I can recall even reading about a true deep water passenger ship of over 20,000 tons, carrying passengers and departing from an American port, sinking was well ... it actually didn't sink. The Morro Castle suffered a disastrous fire off the coast of New Jersey as a result of arson, a fire in which a significant number of lives were lost. But that was all the way back in 1934 before the use of fire proof and fire retardant materials and highly trained fire fighting crews. Would you believe it was eventually concluded that the fire was arson and the arsonist was a radioman who was originally hailed as a hero for getting out the distress call? Go figure.

Why, you may ask, would anyone who has no nautical background and who indeed has only once two years ago been on a cruise, want to go to such an effort to learn about such things? Actually what motivated me to get so involved in the subject was to a large degree the result of my first cruise. I plan to even delve deeper into the topic when next we cruise in less than three months.

Since there must be something, for what negative should the average cruiser really be prepared? Probably just the sadness that sets in when the cruiser realizes that their cruise vacation has come to an end.

Bon Voyage!

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