When the Ship Hits the Fan
By Risë Birnbaum
Some of my best vacations have been on cruise ships with family and friends. There’s something nice about hanging up my clothes just once in that small closet, never packing or unpacking again and then waking up to a new port every day (as well as the 27 lounges, piano players, bingo, art auctions, poker tourneys, free ice cream, the casino and dancing under the stars in a sleeveless cocktail dress on New Year’s Eve).
I can get up early, sleep in, go on excursions, hit the spa, work out…whatever I feel like doing. On one cruise I left the boat for half day and then trekked back to the ship after lunch on the island to find a warm chaise on the pool deck to watch a movie on a giant screen with an umbrella drink in my hand.
One thing I’ve never done on any of the 11 cruises I’ve been on — is get sick.
So, I had to steady myself when I read today that, according to Bernadette Burden (who now has one) of the CDC, more than 600 people have been hit with tummy troubles on a 10 day Royal Caribbean cruise ship. That’s a shipload of Pepto.
There is now a wave of ships with thousands of passengers and crew with gastro-problems. It’s hard to imagine those long hallways, Tom Thumb-like cabins (even suites are on the “small” side) and polished decks covered in anything except carpet and polyurethane.
I’m one of these people who just imagines what a ship with 600+ sick passengers must be like and I almost get sick. Pirates might be a better fate.
So what does a rocky cruise industry do to help smooth things out when the ship hits the fan? Naturally there are going to be refunds and discounts and incentives.
But, they’re definitely going to have to think BIG and out of the box on this one. I almost think that once the smell vanishes from this latest H2O nightmare, the cruise industry might think of producing a short video on you tube with an A level celeb hyping a “come along cruise.” Or, maybe some big Grammy award winners headline a series of cruises, not to mention free cruises for the audience on the Ellen Show, and any other show that’ll do it for the near future.
I’m still OK with booking a cruise, but have to check if my Amex card allows me to be choppered to shore. I might move up to a black American Express card just for that option. And think about the miles I’d rack up that I could use for the next cruise.