It seems like a case of damned if they do, damned if they don’t. Here’s a news story about a cruise line that’s under fire because it ruined a family’s holiday when it refused to allow two sick children to board.
And yet the same web site — and many others — regularly runs stories (such as this and this) about large numbers of passengers whose holidays are ruined because they got norovirus (“gastro” in Australian headline-writing parlance) on cruise ships.
In both aircraft and cruise-ship manufacturing, there’s a debate: is bigger always better? In aviation, the largest commercial plane, the Airbus A380, is popular only with airlines, notably Emirates, that are staking the future on carrying a lot of people over long distances to and from big airports.
With cruise ships, there has been greater investment by those who believe bigger is better, although niche operators beg to differ.
There is one area where the hospitality industry has struggled (or is unwilling) to keep up and be competitive: the provision of internet services.
It is ridiculous in this day and age that some hotels, airlines and cruise ships offer near-extortionate prices for internet access (which, according to the United Nations, is a basic human right, no less).
One of my favourite activities onboard a cruise ship is the question-and-answer session with the captain and senior officers. Not every cruise line does it, but Royal Caribbean does on at least some of its ships, and it’s called Captain’s Corner.
On my cruise aboard Vision of the Seas, I learned — or was reminded of — quite a few “fun facts” about that particular ship and cruising in general in a session hosted by Captain Marek Slaby.
I broke one of my own rules. I decided this time that I would not spend money while at sea when I’m cruising.
The idea was to pay for everything in advance — and get the applicable discouts — then pretend to be having a free holiday (Hey, it works for me. I certainly got a good deal on the internet, paying about $5 a day less than I would had I bought it on board).
But I found one thing I couldn’t resist. Well, two actually.
Frequent cruise passengers will know the frustration of losing their plastic keycard, or leaving it in their cabin. Replacing it often involves a hassle, both for the customer and the crew member who has to sort out the problem.
So it’s no surprise that cruise companies are looking at different ways of giving customers access to their cabins, pay their bills and access their onboard offerings. Continue reading It’s all in the wrist
I’ve just booked another cruise — a seven-day trip up and down the Arabian Gulf from Dubai in February — and it’s given me the opportunity to revisit the booking process and offer some, hopefully useful, tips.
As I’ve written before, it’s often more expensive for solo travellers to take cruises because a single supplement — let’s not call it a “no-friends tax” — often applies.
I was sorry to read that more than 180 passengers on Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas were struck down by what the Australian media called a “stomach bug” on a recent cruise into Sydney.
I sincerely hope the inconvenience of being ill doesn’t put these people off taking further cruises. I feel their pain, because it happened to me during a cruise down the Suez Canal, but I can assure them that Royal Caribbean will look after them, and work hard to prevent a repeat.