We've always been averse to cruise vacations. Climbing aboard a ship where you'll live in close quarters with thousands of strangers for a week or more? No thanks. But lately, cruising has gotten downright scary.
There was January's Costa Concordia disaster, in which the ship ran aground and sank, killing more than 30 passengers. And this week, on Costa's Allegra, a fire in the engine room left passengers adrift in the Indian Ocean without running water and air conditioning, poised to abandon ship.
One could infer that the problem is Costa, and not cruising as a whole. But we've been on a few cruises, and they are scary, scary scenes. Here's why.
Y'know what's a real drag when you're on vacation? Compulsively washing your hands over and over, thanks to the signs posted around every cruise ship warning you about norovirus. And that's the least of your worries if you happen to be on a ship with an outbreak. Symptoms include vomiting, diarrhea, and stomach cramps. Hope your cabin's bathroom has an ocean view!
The idea of a buffet serving upwards of 2,000 people is scary enough. But here's something you might not have considered: Where does all that food come from? If you're on one of the bigger cruise ships, you should know that the food you're eating has likely been stored on the ship for as long as you have. So when you're starting to feel a bit stale four or five days into your trip, there's a good reason why: You are what you eat.
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You don't have to pass a background check to board a cruise ship, folks. And once you're on that ship, you're stuck there, surrounded only by the deep, black, body-dumping paradise of the ocean. It only takes one serial killer to really mess up your getaway.
Here is a story about a cruise ship videographer we once met. Her name was Rasa, and she was from Lithuania. Her job was to film cruise passengers as they frolicked on the ship, so we figured she'd have some good stories. Have you seen a lot of funny things happen? we asked her. "I have seen things," she replied. Like what? She simply repeated, "I have seen things." Her eyes were like stones. Then we asked her what differences she noticed between Americans and Lithuanians. "In America, when a woman falls down the stairs, the men will try to catch them," she responded. "Otherwise, no." Is this really a person you want running your vacation?
Cruising is a cult. There is no denying it. People who call themselves "cruisers" dedicate their whole lives to the culture, reading up on the latest ships and their new and improved features, budgeting their incomes and vacation days to afford as many trips per year as possible, coordinating future excursions with other cult members they met on cruises past. And no matter what port they're visiting, many of them never leave the ship. Fact: Cruising is the Scientology of vacationing.