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Sealetter Editorial
SeaLetter Editorial

Stuff Happens

by Sharon Jackson

I get a lot of email which starts with something like "Someone told me I should write to you about the terrible disaster I just had on a cruise." Rarely have these folks encountered what I would call a disaster. They always manage to throw in the words "cruise from hell" to describe things like picking up a virus on board which made them ill for 2 days, no seat assignments or inconvenient connections on their cruise line-arranged flights, the cruise director embarrassed them when they volunteered to come up on stage during one of the passenger-story type events, a bartender was rude to them, the room steward left a banana peel on the rug in their cabin, etc. etc. etc. You get my drift.

Yes, sometimes I get a letter from someone who has a legitimate problem and needs some help to solve it. I do my best to advise these folks and to direct them to the right people who can help.

And yes, there certainly are disasters, or near-disasters, but the reporting of such events seems to me to get blown out of all proportion. New cruise ships are delayed and rumors abound. Did you hear the rumor I heard (from one of those supposedly reliable "cruise industry sources") that the Disney Magic was going to be delayed again beyond July because she had a cracked hull? That was obviously nonsense as she was delivered last month and is now sailing with Mickey and Minnie and a whole gaggle of happy kids.

A fire breaks out on the Ecstasy right before our eyes and facts give way to sensationalism. I watched as a female reporter on CNN stated that "there was speculation" that the Captain was trying to reach International Waters before reporting the fire so that the NTSB (US National Transportation and Safety Board) would not have jurisdiction and the right to investigate the fire. The source of the "speculation" was never identified. Hey, if I had been the source of that statement, I wouldn't want to be identified either!

The coast guard or the CDC prevents a ship from sailing on schedule, and the laughter of happy cruise vacationers turns into cries of "Sue, Baby, Sue!" Forget the fact that the CDC determined that the recent viral outbreak on the Regal Princess in Alaska was probably caused by a passenger-carried virus, if 175 out of 1500+ passengers got sick, it MUST have been the "food and water." I guess the other 1300+ passengers on board didn't eat or drink anything all week long.

I bring this topic up now because of two of our cruise reviews this month. Delos Johnson was onboard the Ecstasy during that near-disastrous fire outbreak. His report on the experience is objective and well-balanced. It is not without criticism of the crew and staff - when deserved, he dishes it out. But he also lets the press know how their helicopters interfered with the announcements, and could have caused a much larger disaster. And you just have to empathize with Mary Ann Monts' great feeling of disappointment when you read her account of her Enchanted Capri "Cruise to Nowhere" which literally cruised nowhere indeed.

Yet, neither Delos or Mary Ann is rushing out to instigate or join a class action law suit. Neither of them is posting and complaining and whining about how ill-treated they were by the big, bad and RICH cruise corporations. They appear to be dealing with their disappointments by gazing often at those "free cruise certificates" and planning their NEXT cruise.

What ever happened to "go with the flow" or "relax, and take it as it comes." Cruise cancellations and massive illnesses on board are not an everyday occurrence, and lightning rarely strikes twice in the same place. We can't control everything and expect perfection every day of our lives. Those passengers who were sorely disappointed, and many extremely inconvenienced, back in May when the Grand Princess inaugural was delayed realized they weren't that bad off when they heard what happened in June to the passengers on the Enchanted Capri Inaugural. And those Enchanted Capri inaugural passengers realized they weren't that bad off when they heard what happened in early July to all those folks who got sick on the Regal Princess. And those Regal Princess passengers realized they weren't that bad off when they heard what happened on July 20th to those Ecstasy passengers.

Oh, and in case you haven't heard yet, the Sea Princess is going to be late and her first four cruises have been cancelled. Booked passengers are receiving a full refund of everything paid to date and a discount on a future 1998 or 1999 Caribbean cruise.

What can I say? I don't think I'll book an inaugural cruise for the next few years. How about you?


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