Carnival Cruise Line is having a tough time lately. A ship sinking off the coast of Italy a few months ago, a ship stranded and having passengers sleeping on the decks just a month ago, and now three more ships in the news with power outages, mechanical failures, virus outbreaks, etc. What effect will this have on the cruise industry in general?
Well, according to statistics, more folks are choosing to cruise than ever before whether it is on Carnival or another cruise line. Someone I know is sailing on Carnival in a week and has the “surely it can’t happy to me/us” feeling. I, too, am hoping for the best for them as it is their first time taking a cruise.
Of course, with all travel there are some presumed risks. That’s why folks get travel insurance; for coverage for the unthinkable. At the same time, I admire the passengers for their perseverance during uncomfortable and inconvenient times at best and horrific at worst.
I was wondering how many passengers on the Carnival Dream that were flying home from St. Thomas had Passports? Many cruisers in the Caribbean basin still rely on a birth certificate only while sailing rather than pay for a Passport. Those without Passports would have had a difficult time making it through customs and immigration at their final destination from St. Thomas with just their birth certificates. This is why I highly recommended to a family of 5 getting ready to take their first cruise this summer that they get Passports, even though the cruise line didn’t require Passports. The family chose the costly option of Passports.
So, how could one protect themselves or be prepared for an unfortunate situation on the high seas?
- Travel Insurance. We purchase travel insurance for all of our cruises. There is just too much at stake with flights, sailings, etc.
- Schedule departure and return flights with some wiggle room—especially if traveling during the winter. We like to fly the day before we sail and are willing to delay our return flight until later in the day when we disembark the ship or the next day. We have also been known to extend our vacation and fly a few days later. This wiggle room allows for less worry about “getting to the ship on time” and getting to the airport on time. Even Disney ships have been known to be late getting into Port Canaveral because of wind and weather. Most recently, an arrival time to Galveston was significantly delayed due to weather.
- Pack a flashlight. If the power goes out it can be difficult to find your way in a stateroom or hallways. We have a little kit that includes duck tape, clothes pins, magnets, etc. that goes in our suitcase. It sounds a little like MacGyver, I know, but you never know when a toilet lid won’t stay up, or a curtain won’t stay open/shut, or a suitcase gets a tear, or a zipper breaks. Trust me, these items have come in handy!
- Don’t unpack. We are just fine living out of suitcases for the duration of our cruise. A couple of things might get hung up in the closet like a nice dress or pair of pants. Otherwise, it is to the suitcases we go each day to get dressed. Not unpacking makes packing easier and if I had to leave a ship quickly, I could be ready in minutes. I know, many people take advantage of all the drawers, shelves, and closet space and then store their empty luggage under the bed. That just doesn’t work for us, as I would have to teach my family a new system of where everything goes! I would then be bombarded by questions regarding the location of things. It saves me time and anguish to leave items packed. For us, the pop-up laundry hamper goes in the closet and receives dirty clothes, shoes go on the bottom shelf of the closet, and pj’s go in one drawer to be worn again the next night; everything else is in suitcases—one per person.
- And, once you have done everything you can to prepare for a hopefully unlikely event, relax and enjoy your vacation!
Some industry experts believe the quick turnaround of ships in ports is leading to the mechanical breakdowns and lack of cleaning that lead to virus outbreaks. And, cruisers would complain that they are herded off the ships too early and want to get into their staterooms as soon as they board, leading to even more pressure to provide excellent guest experiences while at the same time making the ship suitable for the next round of passengers.
Personally, I can wait until 1:30 pm or even after to get into my stateroom if that means it will be cleaned. Still, the wipes come out as soon as we are in and surfaces get a rub down—TV remotes, phones, door knobs, sink handles, drawer pulls, etc. (I do the same in hotel rooms and on airplanes so this isn’t just a practice for staterooms.) Part of my patience is that we have prepared to wait for our stateroom by bringing on board any items we might need during the duration—swim suits, sunscreen, and clothes for the evening, etc.
What has been happening to the Carnival ships is unfortunate and can give cruising in general a negative connotation. Will these events stop us from sailing? Definitely not! The husband would say that if other guests decide not to sail, it will just make more room for us.