Cruising: why taking a cruise isn't a holiday

Trip Start Jan 30, 2007
Trip End Dec 31, 2011

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Flag of United States  , Florida
Friday, September 12, 2008

I once went on a 4-5 day cruise. Three countries in four days.
It was on one of the largest cruise liners in the world. There were 4,000 passengers, 3,000 staff, and something like 10,000 eggs eaten.

As a way of traveling, it is leisurely. You don't have to pack your bags each night.

As for the fantasy about it being romantic, luxurious and exotic, well: it wasn't.

We went on a tour of the ship. It took forever. There were places and floors I never visited again.

At nighttime, after a few drinks, you should try to find your room. You walk down hallways, that all look the same. At night, after a few drinks, you realise the boat does move around a little, despite its stabilizers. And its size: about the size of Africa.

In those brochures they show people lounging around the pool. Sure, there were a few outside, but most - they were Chinese and Hong Kongers - choose instead to stay in the casinos, which opened once we left Hong Kong and remained packed til we crossed back into Hong Kong's maritime boundary. As for the swimming pool, due to a bumpy passage, and the movement of the boat, those that did brave the pool were tossed around for everyone else's entertainment.

The food on the ship was quite good, with a choice of different venues. There was a French restaurant. And maybe an Italian one too.

One night we had a meal with the ship's captain. He was Norwegian. The crew were from all poor nations on earth, but lots of Filipinos.

I came across this article - obviously a freebie junket for the writer - recently, which raves about the food.

But if you do a quick search for cruise ships, and this company in particular, you find that food poisoning is quite a common occurrence during cruises - not scurvy.

And if you don't get food poisoning, the food might not be all that great either.
Look at this comment from a passenger of Sea Princess:

Most disturbingly, the food was appalling - rarely served hot, rarely comprised of fresh ingredients, rarely flavorful. Whether we ate in the 24-hour buffet (I've had better meals in hospital cafeterias), the pizzeria, or the dining room, we were plagued time and again by limited choices, poor quality, and inadequate temperature (to the point of being concerned about food poisoning). At first I thought it was just me, being a hard-core foodie and vegetarian (and for the record, I have been pleased with the food on every other cruise I've sailed on, all of which were carnival Cruises). But then my new husband, who is typically indifferent to food, mentioned it, too. And then the other people we ate meals with. Clearly, it was not just my food snobbery that was to blame! The food was just crappy. We took advantage of every single opportunity to eat off the ship, and did so with relish.

Or this:


Having said that, we have to report a major apparent food poisoning incident. On Thursday the Captain came on the PA system to announce that "more than 60" people had reported illnesses to the ship's doctor, mostly on Sunday. Since this exceeded 2% of the passenger count, (there were about 1950 passengers on board), he was required to notify the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta. This agency flew people out to the ship to investigate. As part of their efforts to locate the cause they prepared a four page, extremely detailed questionnaire which everyone was requested to fill out. Among other things, it listed every item on the menus for Saturday afternoon and evening and similarly for Sunday. My journal notes helped to refresh my memory. We turned this in on Friday. At dinner Saturday evening we were joined by two ladies, one of whom had been among the victims. She believed it was a shrimp dish that was suspect, and she also thought that there were more than 60 affected, although we had heard nothing prior to the captain's announcement. In any event, we were given the website [] which will have the results of the investigation in a few weeks. Anyone can go to that site and bring up the CDC inspection reports on all cruise ships which dock at any time in the US.

There is even a virus which is found on many cruises:

# Reasons why noroviruses are associated with cruise ships

* Health officials track illness on cruise ships. Therefore, outbreaks are found and reported more quickly on a cruise ship than on land.
* Close living quarters may increase the amount of group contact.
* New passenger arrivals may bring the virus to other passengers and crew.

Which has all led to lots of lawyers advertising their services:

Food Poisoning - Cruise ships are known for their vast quantities of edibles. Unfortunately, in such an environment, food poisoning is common. If you were adversely affected by a severe bout of this type of salmonella, botulism, or other such poisoning, you've been the victim of a cruise ship accident.

Not forgetting:

Swimming Pool Incidents - Many cruise ship accidents take place around the swimming pool(s) located on the ship. Drowning occurs, people dive and get hurt, and slips and falls can easily happen as a result of the wet floor around the pool.

The message is clear:

Don't go on a cruise, without first consulting with your lawyer.
And if you do go on a cruise, take your own food.
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