Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cruises and the H1N1 situation

I prefer to follow the President's use of H1N1 in talking about the current situation instead of swine flu. Just the name "swine" alone is causing more panic, IMHO. The travel alerts are out, people are beginning to get very concerned and added to everything else going on, we ask ourselves "why travel anywhere right now?"

These are my thoughts why planning a cruise is a smart thing to do. First, when stress mounts, finding a way to relax is a good thing. We all work hard, worry about bills, jobs, health concerns, kids, and numerous other "negative" things that cause us stress. When we have something to look forward to that represents fun, pleasure, relaxation and just a plain get-away from the daily stress in our lives, we feel better. We all love to plan and look forward to a vacation.

There are many wonderful land based places one can go for a vacation and reap the benefit of looking forward to fun, pleasure and relaxation. But there are also cruise vacations. Forgetting the value of a cruise over land (IMHO), with the H1N1 situation, it is really a cruise is a very sensible thing to consider.

If you were planning to go to a hotel in MX for example, you are probably changing your plans and scrambling to find an alternative vacation. You have now added stress to your life. If you plan a cruise, they work on the alternative plan for you. We see this in hurricane season every year - ships can change itinerary to stay out of harm's way when necessary. A hotel or resort can not be moved. Where it is is where it stays. Where will H1N1 spread to next? Your guess is as good as mine and if planning your vacation there, will you have to worry about what happens in the future?

The cruise lines monitor all situations very closely and can change itineraries to keep the customer (and the crew) out of harms way as much as possible. Ships with itineraries to MX now have changed ports of call and can bypass stops in any port in MX but the passengers still have all the benefits of the cruise. If something happens, they can still alternate the itinerary again. They can make changes after you are on the ship if necessary. What happens if you were at a land resort and something happens there?

Since cruise lines are diligent in reporting outbreaks of anything (norovirus every year for example) and don't want their passengers to have problems nor do they want any bad publicity so they already take precautions in cleaning public areas continuously to try to prevent the spread of any desease. They also take precautions in just allowing people to board the ships, especially in times like this. Will people lie to prevent them being denied boarding? You bet they will! Do hotels even try to screen quests at check-in? I've never heard of them doing that.

Combine the safety and precautions of a cruise ship to prevent spread of illness, the flexibility that cruise ships have in where to travel to so they can protect their customers and avoid areas of potential problems, with the value currently offered as prices are still at very low per diems, and this is a great time to plan your summer vacation. Or fall, winter, or even next year's.

And realize that using an agent, and especially a cruise specialist who will keep abreast of situations for you (need I say especially us and our team?), is again the smart thing to do. You don't pay more than booking direct with a cruise line - and probably save money, you get "real world" advice on selecting the right cruise for you, you have an advocate to protect your vacation and interests, and you might even find a new friend.

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