Cruising Uncharted Waters
When the engines won't get you to
the next port or the weather isn't cooperative, you could find
yourself sailing for Nova Scotia when your luggage is packed for
Bermuda. It's a fact, cruise line itinerary snafus can cause your best laid
to go awry.
It may seem to be a minor detail, but
most of us don't pay a lot of attention to the disclaimer in the
fine print of our ticket that itineraries are subject to change. Bad weather,
mechanical problems, and political unrest can set the most
Weather or Not
Even the largest, most comfortable
vessel can seem confining when it rains... and rains and rains and
with the sun shining brightly, you might not be home free if high
winds are kicking up high seas. While the Caribbean is normally calm
and placid, hurricane season does last six months out of the
year (from June 1 through November 30) and no one can predict when
one will form. A cruise to the Caribbean or Bermuda could easily
become something quite different as the Captain avoids ports of call
in the path of a hurricane.
Still, gale force winds can effect
your course at any time—a tropical storm doesn't necessarily have
to be present in your hemisphere. Not only can strong winds be
annoying, you may find at best that your ship is sailing with a
slight tilt or, at worst, heaving and bucking in the accompanying
rough water. The best you can hope for are sound sea legs and a
High seas and bad moods naturally
go hand in hand. Klaus Lugmaier, long-time Norwegian Cruise
Lines Hotel Director, confides that the most common passenger gripes
are bad weather, delays caused by Immigration clearances, and long
check-in lines. Possibly his most unusual request was an incident on
the SS Norway when a passenger wanted to leave the ship
during a day at sea and commanded him to "order a
Full Speed Ahead... or
Mechanical difficulties are another
morale buster. Spirits aboard fall with reduced engine speed,
relieved only at landfall and the promise of white sand beaches and
duty-free shopping. Cruise ships are more than hotels at sea. They
are extremely complex "machines" afloat. Take all the
things that could go wrong ashore and multiply them in relationship
to the complexity of your vessel. Then toss in the fact that your
ship could be hundreds of miles from its destination when something
goes wrong. In that event, you may find a closer port has been
substituted for one the ship just can't reach with its reduced
Political or civil unrest can erupt in the
world's most idyllic and interesting spots. There's nothing
appealing about gun-toting militants. No cruise line will knowingly
steer a course for a troubled port. On the other hand, just because
a country is included on the State Department's "Travel Warnings"
list doesn't necessarily mean your port of call is in a danger zone.
Jamaica is a case in point—strife in Kingston doesn't
mean your day in Ocho Rios will be cancelled.
How likely is it that one of these conditions will cross your ship's
course? Not terribly. Thousands of contented passengers complete the
cruises of their dreams every week.
However, on an otherwise pleasant
and memorable cruise we
experienced a double whammy. High winds and a "technical
difficulty" meant we arrived late in Cartagena, left
later than anticipated, and couldn't make it to Aruba and back to
our home port on schedule. When the Captain announced we would spend
our next port day in Nassau, instead of the more desirable Aruba,
there was an uproar. Pretty
soon we heard that everyone on our vessel took the cruise
JUST to visit Aruba! Rumor
had it that a petition was circulating to DEMAND the Captain proceed
to Aruba immediately. Mutiny?
The document wasn’t delivered (even though the ship’s
photographers were reportedly on call to immortalize its
presentation) and life went on as we made our way to the chosen
alternative. While Nassau isn't the most exciting port of call, it
does have its charms and some really fine duty-free shopping.
When your course unexpectedly
changes, the best recourse is to maintain a positive attitude and
turn up your sense of humor. A shortened day in port is
disappointing, but you might find someone interesting to chat with
while waiting for the ship to dock. And a change of port could mean
visiting an intriguing place you wouldn't have thought to select.
When you decide to take a cruise,
any cruise, remember...
season consumes a full six months of the year. It doesn't have to
spoil your cruise if you are Cruising
into Hurricane Season
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