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Common 'perceptions' or 'misconceptions' on cruising

We have members of our family (they shall remain nameless, in the interests of harmony) who would not go on a cruise unless it was free, and even then it would likely be kicking and screaming. They have probably been influenced as much by the "common perceptions" of cruising that can be heard anywhere, but most often on TV.

Recently, Bloomberg Businessweek identified seven such remarks from conversations involving non-cruisers. In some cases, these are "common misconceptions" — but we'll let you (and them) be the judges…

1. The ships are too crowded, with long lines everywhere.

This is not true, although judging something as being too anything is always going to be subjective. We've never been on a ship "too crowded" and while we have been in Liberty of the Seas at Sealines — primarily embarking or disembarking — these are the exceptions not the rules, and cruise lines go out of their way to try making it seamless.

2. Cruises are full of morbidly obese people.

While we are not "morbidly" or even mildly obese, we disagree. There are overweight people everywhere, and probably a higher percentage on cruise ships. But to say ships are full of such passengers is a morbidly gross over-reaction.

3. Do we really need more buffets in the world?

We agree 100 per cent…okay, at least 90. But supply and demand dictates this, and obviously there is a demand.

4. Cruise ships are floating cesspools and pollute the environment.

This is a belief borne of ignorance. But that belief, along with growing environmental responsibility, has resulted in cruise ships that are increasingly sensitive to being custodians of the oceans that are their homes. Go on a ship's tour and see for yourself all of the ways (too many to list here) that this industry has gotten into line. If ships were "floating cesspools" cruising would be dying, and it's not.

5. Cruises are for old people.

There is some validity in this, yet cruise lines are constantly being built to attract families. How many "old people" zip-line or shoot down water coasters or climb rock walls? Having said that, with an estimated 22 million people on cruise ships, it's a fair assumption that the majority of passengers with both the resources and the time are retirees.

6. Cruises are full of obnoxious teenagers.

Well, if cruises for for old people, who let the teenagers on the ship? It's true that teenagers can be obnoxious but that doesn't mean all of them are. Frankly, we've seen more obnoxious grandparents than teenagers on cruise ships.

7. Who wants to be stuck on a boat for a week?

This is highly subjective. We all have different tastes, different pleasures. Our answer would be: Who doesn't?

Today at Phil Reimer's portsandbows.com: Mid-ships returning to Bermuda

Celebrity Summit
7 nights
July 6, 2014
Cape Liberty (return): King’s Wharf
Inside: $599
Cost per day: $85

Cruising: a dictionary of its own

Sometimes, those of us with any kind of connection to cruising can be rather one-dimensional. We think the word "cruise" can only mean one thing.

Then we'll hear aboiut the latest Tom Cruise movie…or girlfriend.

Yesterday, we experienced another reality check. We were in the car with two of our grandchildren and one of them had her iPod (or other musical device) playing one of her favorite songs…

Baby you a song
You make me want to roll my windows down and cruise
Come on girl
Get those windows down and cruise

The song is a hit for the country group called Florida Georgia Line (right) and, yes, it is great when you have grandchildren who like country music. The name of the song is Cruise and as you can tell by the lyrical excerpt, it has nothing to do with sailing on the ocean with 2,500 of our closest friends.

Some of us just have trouble believing that "cruise" could mean anything else.

Carnival Imagination
4 nights
December 1, 2013
Miami (return): Key WestCozumel
Inside: $159
Cost per day: $39

Cruise Ship Port: To Drive or To Fly

One of the problems when trying to get to a cruise port is — often — deciding whether it's better to fly or drive.

We found a helper.

It's called Travel Math (or travelmath if you insist on precision) and it calculates, in rough terms, what you need to know to make that decision. Or at least to make it easier.

Let's take an example. Say you live in Memphis and want to catch a cruise from the Port of Miami.

Driving takes 16 hours. Flying, including estimate driving time to and from the airport and check-in time, takes 3 hours and 27 minutes.

Driving costs $303.61, using gas prices of $3.85 a gallon. Flying costs $296. However, the driving cost includes only for gas, not meals and motel and parking in Miami.

Driving covers 986 miles. Flying 872 miles.

In this example, flying is the way to go. In fact, adjusting for the current price at the pump probably makes it even better. On the other hand, you do have to endure the baggage, security and general annoyances of flying.

Travel Math — that's travelmath.com — isn't conclusive, but it helps.

And it's free.

Diamond Princess
7 nights
June 2, 2012
Anchorage, Hubbard Glacier, Glacier Bay National Park, Skagway, Juneau, Ketchikan, Vancouver
Inside: $555
Cost per day: $79

Seasickness and its remedy

We had coffee on Saturday with a friend, for the first time in too long, and inevitably the subject of cruising came up, as it always seems to with us. You’d almost think we had heads shaped like funnels and bodies that were ship-shape…and neither is the case.

In comparing cruise notes, he told us about taking a Holland America cruise around Cape Horn, at the southern tip of South America. He told us he suffered from seasickness, commonly known as motion sickness on a boat, and that he had been unable to determine what triggered it, because sometimes he became ill with only a little motion.

The cause doesn’t really matter, though, does it? What to do about it does.

Just a few hours into his South America cruise off the coast from Valparaiso, Chile, our pal was overcome with…well, graphic images are not required here. When he emerged from the men’s room, at least a few ounces later, a fellow passenger recommended he buy a wristband at the ship’s gift shop.

“Best fifteen dollars I ever spent,” she told him.

Never having been stricken with the ailment, we were unaware such things existed. It turns out they do, under several brand names, and we have no idea which type he bought. We only know it worked for him, and the remedy lasted the entire cruise. How or why is incidental.

Seven per cent of passengers on cruise ships get seasick. That makes it worth knowing about the magic wristbands…just in case any of us in the 93% find ourselves on the other side.

Royal Caribbean Majesty of the Seas
4 nights
December 5, 2011
Miami to Bahamas return
Inside $169.00

Canada Cruising and a Name Contest

Cruising to Canada usually means one of two things. You’re en route to Alaska (west), or you’re going to see fall colors (east). If you’re sailing out of New York or Boston, it’s September or October and you’re off to see the brilliance of a Canadian autumn.

That’s part of the problem. In the eyes of the cruise lines, fall foliage is — as the French would say — the raison d’être for cruising to Canada.

“”We have to get beyond this idea that the colors of the leaves is the only reason to come,” Dan Hanrahan, CEO of Celebrity Cruises, said at a cruise symposium, “but the cruise industry can’t do that. We can sell the brand and the itinerary, but we’re not the ones to convince people to come beyond that.”

He is right. There will be 20,000 or so fewer people cruising Canada (east) this year, and tourism officials in Quebec are trying to find ways to bring them back. They could start with the rich history of the mighty St. Lawrence River and its gulf, where the country was claimed for France by Jacques Cartier, who thought he’d sailed far enough west to find Asia!

* * *

Either Norwegian has run out of ideas for names of ships, or it’s seizing on a clever campaign that fits today’s climate of social media. NCL is inviting the public to submit names, for two ships that are due to be launched in 2013 and 2014, in partnership with USA Today.

Contestants can enter by clicking here and submitting (often) a name that starts with “Norwegian” for one of the ships only, from now until August 14, when the contest ends. Winners will be announced in September, and the prize is a trip for two to the naming ceremony for the first ship.

Norwegian doesn’t say so, but the prize must include some kind of inaugural voyage (even a short one) because the winners receive “balcony stateroom accommodations.”

Clever but…wouldn’t it be more appropriate if the winners went to the ceremony of the ship they named, which can only happen if the same entrant names both ships?

* * *

Ever wonder why somebody who’s blind would go on a cruise?

Wonder no more. Just click on this link and take a few minutes to read the story of Patty and Terry Horvath, written by Ellen Creager of McClatchy-Tribune News Services.

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