The subject of cruise holidays seems to be a bit like marmite- you either love them or you hate them. Everyone seems to have an opinion on cruises, and many people aren’t afraid to let their thoughts be heard. The latest Huffington Post article by Adrian Brijbassi entitled ‘Why You Should Never Go On a Cruise‘ is no exception.
The title immediately had my hackles up. I recently wrote about how I hate being told the proposed ‘right’ way to travel, and this article tells me what I shouldn’t be doing before I’ve even read the first sentence. However, I read it in it’s entirety and by the end I couldn’t agree with a single point the author had made. By far the most baffling point made in the article is Brijbassi saying that a cruise to the Galapagos is one of the few reasons he is glad cruises exist, which seems to be contradicting the whole point of his article.
One of the things that people seem to constantly fixate upon is the issue of safety, and this article did just that. Sure, there have been issues, problems and tragic accidents such as the Costa Concordia shipwreck in 2012 where 32 people sadly lost their lives. But there’s risk in everything, and statistically cruises are 8 times safer than simply crossing the street in New York City, but nobody warns you of that when you tell them you’re visiting the city. Cruising is statistically safer than getting in your car and driving to work, and it’s also far safer than flying. People simply must take notice of these facts and stop clinging to the unfounded notion that cruises are unsafe.
Brijbassi’s article compares cruise holidays with stays in luxury hotels, using the examples of the Ritz-Carlton and Kempinsj, saying they have ‘rarely, if ever, faced questions over safety and crime’. That’s all very well and good if all you plan to do is sit in your hotel room or relax in the spa for the duration of your visit, but if you venture outside of it you unquestionably put yourself at risk whether you realise it or not. By jumping into a taxi to visit a nearby attraction, by crossing the road to the museum and so on you increase the chances of something untoward happening and thus, using the issue of safety as a reason not to cruise is futile once you bring other factors such as these into consideration.
The idea that cruise holidays offer nothing more than a ‘contrived and shellacked slant on luxury and excess’ is one which I also don’t necessarily agree with. I wonder how they offer more of a slant on luxury and excess than a week in a Ritz-Carlton in X or Y city? I believe that different people get different things out of travel experiences, and I would certainly get more of an ‘authentic’ travel experience in 12 hours in Barcelona visiting the Sagrada Famillia, eating tapas and strolling through the Barri Gotic than someone who stays in the Ritz-Carlton (or another similarly luxurious hotel) who spends all their time lounging by the rooftop swimming pool.
My point is that not all travel experiences are created equal. Staying in a luxury hotel and being chauffeur driven around a destination whenever you venture outside it’s 5 star confines certainly does not make for a more authentic experience than soaking up as much culture in a destination in the time you have ashore before retiring to your cruise ship for dinner and to be transported to your next port of call the following day. I’m not for a minute saying that this is what all luxury hotel guests do, but just because you’re on land doesn’t automatically make your experience better or more real. Similarly, is a cruise holiday any less authentic than booking a package holiday to Egypt for example, and spending all your time holed up in a resort drinking cocktails? I certainly don’t think so, but there never seem to be as strong opinions on this type of trip as there are on cruises.
Sure, on a ten day cruise visiting 8 different ports of call and spending an average of 12 hours in each, you certainly won’t do much more than scratch beneath the surface of a destination. You might not find the elusive ‘authenticity’ that seems to have become the latest buzzword in travel, but who says you have to? On the 13 cruises I’ve sailed on so far I’ve gotten a flavour of certain places I’ve visited and subsequently booked trips to return and spend more time there. I’ve also visited some places and realised 12 hours there was enough for me. The beauty of a cruise is that it allows you a snapshot of a place and you can decide for yourself whether you want to return and explore it further at a later date.
Of course there are negative points about cruising, but there are negatives to every travel experience. There are people who get on board and never leave the ship, only moving between the sun loungers and the bars and restaurants. There are people who don’t give a damn about experiencing other cultures and trying new things but you find these people everywhere. It’s easy to stereotype cruise holidays and their passengers but isn’t it time we stopped talking about how people should and shouldn’t travel and let people make their own decisions based on the style of travel that suits them. I certainly think so.
Brijbassi finishes his article by stating ’My advice when someone asks about going on a multi-day cruise aboard a mega-liner is always the same: Don’t go. Find a better, more authentic and ultimately more rewarding travel adventure elsewhere.’ Well, my advice is go for it. Give it a try and if you still don’t like it then so be it, but don’t dismiss something so vehemently before you’ve even tried it.
Safety statistics are taken from www.cruisesource.us