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Cruise Columnist
Hey, You're Out of Touch

by Douglas Terhune

When someone says you are out of touch, I'd bet your first response would be somewhat defensive, wouldn't it? I mean, we all like to 'think' that we know what is going on in our own lives and within the lives of our loved ones - and perhaps even the world for that matter, right?

Last Saturday morning I called Carnival Cruise Lines reservation number to check the fares of a few sailing dates. The nice young lady from Carnival yawned and I asked her if she slept ok the night before. She said - "Oh my gosh, haven't you heard? They came in this morning and took Elian by storm." This news surprised me and regardless of how I felt about the Elian situation, I immediately felt "out of touch." Soon after we finished our conversation, I was off to the living room to watch the news.

Within the past year, I moved from Boston to the coastal city of Wilmington, North Carolina. While in Beantown, I amassed a group of close friends - but the distance precludes me from staying in touch as much as I'd like. When one of my Boston friends say, "Man Douglas, you are out of touch," I have to face the reality that I moved 1000 miles away and no longer can keep up with everyone like I use to.

As for work, my business travel has reduced itself to a manageable level over the years. I love to travel - as do so many readers of the SeaLetter, but there are drawbacks. Week long trips are tough to handle - and does it not always seem the case that when you return from being gone a week, someone pulls you aside and asks if you have heard about 'so and so' and 'such and such' happening last week? Immediately, you feel 'out of touch.'

In today's information age, we have phones, cell phones, email, call waiting, lap tops, phone mail, snail mail, video conferencing, caller ID, and now wireless email to keep us in touch. We are definitely the "in-touch" society.

So when I book my vacation, one would "think" I would want to stay in touch, right? WRONG!! In fact, that is the absolute last thing I want to do on vacation. For me, the idea of a vacation is leaving behind my worries and responsibilities. In fact, I cannot even think of a time where I called the states while on a cruise.

In your rooms on virtually all US based cruise ships, you have televisions installed now. This was certainly not the case when I began cruising in the 70s, but it is the norm now for sure. If I had my druthers, I'd really rather not even have one in my cabin. However, the television has evolved to provide you with more than local television in each port.

 

The main purpose of a television in my life is keeping me in touch. I religiously turn on Headline News at the end of a day to check the top stories and sports scores. But the cruise lines have been clever to add other features - such as music stations, pay per view movies, gambling, information on shore excursions, a lovely view of the bow of the ship, replays of the days events and some even provide you with a way to purchase your shore excursions. These are all good things I guess if you need them, but I still do not turn on my TV when I'm at sea for fear I may hear news of what happened stateside that day. I don't want to know - pure and simple.

The cabins now all have telephones too that do more than call other guest cabins and the room service people. They call home. And pretty easily too via satellite connections - but, at $10 per minute, is keeping in touch that important?

And, if you go to the Pursers Desk, each day most offer a print out of a small recap of US and International headlines, along with the previous days market report. I see and hear that stuff every day my feet are on terra firma, so why do I need to see it at sea?

My main goal on a ship is to rest, relax and enjoy the tropical paradise environment the ship and the Caribbean islands have to offer. I desperately 'want' to be out of touch. Don't tell me about the problems back home - I don't want to know. Don't tell me what the market did - I don't want to be bothered. Don't tell me how many games below 500 my team is - it will only ruin my lunch.

A cruise is a magical vacation - in fact, any vacation should be magical. Dealing with the daily stress and politics of our jobs, home lives and personal activities is nerve-racking, and that is why we save our pennies to get away. We want to get away AND be out of touch from all that mess and stress.

So next time you walk across the gangplank, make a commitment to be out of touch. Don't give in to calling back home or utilizing the entertainment unit in your room. Don't allow yourself to pick up the new headlines from the Pursers Desk or to purchase the international version of USA Today in St. Thomas. We have 50 weeks a year set aside for being in touch, isn't it time you learn how to be "out of touch?"

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Doug TerhuneDoug Terhune is quite the experienced "solo cruiser" and is a regular columnist and reviewer for the SeaLetter. His "Ship Tips" columns are very popular with our readers.

Doug's special interest is interviewing various officers on his cruises, including interviews with the Tropicale's head chef, the Inspiration's Chief Engineer, and the Grandeur of the Sea's Captain. To find all of Doug's SeaLetter columns and cruise reviews, use the SeaLetter Search Engine entering "Douglas Terhune" as your search phrase.

Doug can be reached at: Doug@sealetter.com.


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