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Sunday, October 27, 2013

You Know Them by the Brown Patch They Wear

These are the newbies—all decked out with sea sickness stuff and white as winter’s first snow.
My husband and I exchange a knowing smile when we see them, but not so long ago, that was us too. My spouse boarded his first cruise with more sea sickness remedies than CVS, the brown scopolamine patch among them.
But he didn’t use a thing.
I don’t have any data to back this up—only what people have told me—but it seems that sea sickness is the top—or at least, among the top—reasons that people who travel don’t cruise. A big part of this is the misconception about the amount of movement they’ll feel on the ship. Maybe that’s because for most of us, our experience of being on the water has been in a small motorboat, sailboat, rowboat, kayak or canoe—where even the smallest wake looks like a tidal wave.
I’m not going to say you never feel movement on a cruise ship. But these ships are so large and
Rough seas?
solidly built that unless you’re in or near a storm, the most you’ll feel is a gentle dip from side to side, from time to time. And if you’re doing the cruise right, you’ll be so distracted you won’t even notice.
The cruise lines want you to try their ships and come back again and again, so they work hard to make sure their guests are comfortable. That means building ships with stabilizers, changing their course to find the calmest waters and traveling at slow speeds.
Fear of boredom is another often-mentioned reason for not trying a cruise. I get this mostly from men. How either gender can get bored with basketball, swimming, ping pong, movies, lectures, spa, gambling, games and contests, ice sculpting demos, art auctions, bingo, bridge, board games, computer classes, cooking demos, galley tours, dancing lessons, singing, comedy, magicians, karaoke…is just beyond me. Then on some of Royal Caribbean’s ships,
throw in surfing, rock climbing, ice skating, zip lining and miniature golf, ice shows and water shows. On some of Celebrity’s, glass-blowing demos and lawn croquet.  
If all else fails, there’s sitting on the balcony with your favorite person, a glass of wine or mug of coffee, a good book and watching the world go by, one wave at a time.
And this is just what’s on the ships.
At the ports, you’ll find activities ranging from bus tours for the sedentary to parasailing for the adventure-seeking.
One of the reasons I stayed away from cruises for so long was terror at the thought of being stuck in the middle of the ocean with thousands of strangers. That there would be crowds everywhere I went. It’s true that at times, you are well aware that there are a few other people besides yourself on board. Particularly during the muster (safety) drill, or when trying to find a place to park yourself around the pool when it’s sunny, in the theater at night (go early!) or cafeteria on a sea day.
Holland America's signature dessert
But, it’s amazing how often you can be standing on one of the decks and be completely alone. Or find a nook or cranny no one else has discovered.
I saved my favorite cruise misconception for last. I’ve had more than one person—inevitably, a female—tell me they won’t take a cruise because there’s too much food. It’s hard to know what to say to this one. Food is one of life’s supreme pleasures. You’re on vacation—enjoy it!