Family Cruising - Risk & Reward
by Sherri Caldwell - The Rebel Housewife® - All Rights Reserved.
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It happens every time?!?!
December 2011: We got back home on Christmas Day from a fantastic five-night family cruise adventure on Royal Caribbean’s Liberty of the Seas from Fort Lauderdale, Florida to Haiti and Jamaica. Three weeks later, we were horrified to see twenty-four hour news coverage of the Carnival (parent company) Costa Concordia disaster -- the huge luxury liner (so similar to the one we had just been on) ran aground, fell over and partially sank off the coast of Italy. Captain’s error was ultimately found responsible, compounded by uncoordinated and chaotic emergency response and rescue procedures. With 4,200 lives aboard, 32 were lost.
In spite of the risks and dangers brought home by that cruise disaster, the success of our first family cruise led to our second cruise, one year later. We cruised again, because, as it turns out, cruising is, for our family of five, the perfect family vacation with teenagers. And, as my husband points out, it is still safer than the results of an airplane mishap 30,000 feet in the air.
December 2012: We enjoyed an incredible seven-night cruise on the Norwegian Star: New Orleans to Costa Maya, Mexico; to Belize; to Roatan, Honduras; and Cozumel. Our second cruise was near-perfect, with the exception of bad weather, severe wind and high waves in Cozumel, forcing cancellation of all water excursions, including our underwater mini-sub adventure. It seemed like a disaster at the time, albeit a small one, quickly remedied by riding out the storm in port at Señor Frog’s Cozumel, drinking (sodas)(of course)(for the kids, anyway), noshing chips & salsa and playing UNO™.
Perhaps we tempted fate, as we landed in Cozumel on 12/21/12 -- the last day of the Mayan calendar and, some believed, maybe the “End of The World.” All was well, even with big ocean swells all the way back from Cozumel. On the Norwegian Star, cruise staff were well-prepared and took care of sea-sick passengers, dispensing free Dramamine at Guest Services and strategically placing barf-bags throughout the ship. They closed off access to the pool deck and the exterior walkways to prevent mishap. All was well.
We got back December 23rd, to be home in time for Christmas 2012. Eight weeks later, a new cruise disaster captivated the media’s attention and airtime, after an engine room fire on the Carnival Triumph disabled the ship 175 miles off the Yucatan Peninsula. Ultimately, the ship was pushed (slowly) by tug boats into port in Mobile, Alabama. The 4,000 cruise passengers and employees suffered 5 long days of horror without power, in the heat and darkness, low on food and with deplorable sanitary conditions, as toilets overflowed. No one died, but no one would argue this would have been a truly miserable vacation.
Will this stop us from cruising?
No one died. People have survived much worse, for much longer: in captivity, hijackings, pirates, surviving the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina in the Super Dome in New Orleans. All of the cruise ship passengers will be compensated for their Vacation From Hell.
It helps to know the realistic risks and what you might do to avoid or survive in a similar set of circumstances. Believe me, it’s something we have talked about, more than two times.
What could you do? What do we do?
Family Cruising: SAFETY PRECAUTIONS
- Reserve outside cabins above -- well above -- the water level.
- Take the first-day lifeboat drill and emergency instruction seriously, as a family.
- Know where you are supposed to go, in the event of an emergency, and know where everybody is onboard the ship and how to find each other. (Your particular “Muster Station” is indicated on your key card, which you carry with you at all times, even the kids.)
- Stay calm and do the best you can. Help others. Make a bad situation better.
- Never cruise on Carnival? (I have, but it was 25 years ago, on a very old ship -- never again, since.)
Easier said than done, maybe. But yes, we’ll cruise again. We are already making plans for December 2013. Our biggest concern is choosing between Royal Caribbean and Norwegian Cruise Lines...in our experience, we felt completely safe and prepared for emergencies (as much as you can be), on both of our family cruise adventures. We can hardly wait to cruise again.