Cruising

Key West Docked Seven Seas Explorer

We regularly receive glossy full color brochures from cruise ship lines. I don’t know how or why we’ve gotten on their mailing list, but in this season, we get more than a few per week, for not an insignificant outlay in annual advertising dollars. They always contain beautiful photos of faraway and exotic places that I would love to be able to take myself. In their way, they can be very enticing. At least until I turn to the page that contains their pricing, with four or five figure per person costs, their allure soon runs aground of the cheapskate in me and these lovely tomes then find their way to a recycling bin.

Even before the predicament of the Diamond Princess, a ship now quarantined off of the Japanese coast, due to the Coronavirus, I have been leery of this mode of travel. In news reports, these floating hotels are routinely plagued by various maladies. These reports tell of thousands of passenger trapped onboard, with no escape. Sometimes turned away at ports-of-call, with nowhere to go. No, thank you, please. I would much prefer to remain far from these maddening crowds. I’d rather do my own travel planning. Make my own mistakes and avoid the peanut buttered monotony of a toured vacation, where day-after-day one must jockey with fellow passengers for the best possible experiences. Always finding the same heads photo-bombing your shots. Six days and five nights of this would be too much for me. I will be curious to see what the 2019 pandemic will wrought upon the cruise industry, where just one passenger among 2,000 is enough to grind everything to a halt. Maybe cruise prices will get discounted?

I am also curious about how this pandemic will affect summer travel plans. We routinely swing west, hitting as many of our national parks as we can. On these road trips, especially at the most popular parks, the land-yacht version of the cruise ship, the tour bus, is a staple. In the past, we have avoided parking lots, where multiple buses have stopped to disgorge their clientele. Knowing that such throngs will soon move on, but while present, bring with them many harried travelers anxious to soak up as much of the scenery as they can, in the limited time that they have there. By observation, most of the people who travel like this are foreigners and most of those seem to be Asian. Now is the planning season for such summer trips and currently China is under a travel ban due to the Coronavirus outbreak. It is anyone’s guess at how long such a quarantine will last, but I’m betting that travel agencies are already seeing effects from it.

It should be and interesting year for travel this year. One with added risks, but also one with more opportunities. Caution may dictate itineraries that lead you to the same old, same old, but adventure awaits those who dare. I myself will choose a combination of these two, one part familiar and one part new and exciting, but hopefully only in a good way. Bon voyage!

4 thoughts on “Cruising

  1. I’d never really seriously considered a cruise until about a year ago. The notion of spending a lot of time trying to figure out what to do while on the ocean turned me off. When I go on a vacation I want to spend as much time as I can at the destinations (and also enjoying the sights on the journey to the destination).

    And I’m not one for extended tours. I might do a one afternoon walking tour but beyond that I want to be on my own so that I can see what I want and when I want.
    But about a year ago I started looking into an Alaska cruise. It seemed to be the easiest way to see some of that enormous state. The base fare seemed doable but then I started adding in the tours to the various attractions and the price tag ballooned to far more than I wanted to spend.

    Since then my son pointed out what horrible polluters the cruise ships can be. I also noted the TV commercials that Shaq does for one of the cruise lines and it seemed that some of the onboard activities as shown were pretty cheesy looking.

      • True that. I just heard that Hilton is taking a financial beating.
        I think this is a good year to skip Asia. We’ve already begun finalizing our plans. A July baseball park tour that hits 7 parks and takes us in a circle starting at KC and ending in Minnesota. Italy in the fall.

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