Tips for Enjoying Your Cruise Vacation in Spite of Mistakes and Mishaps

My recent cruise to New Zealand and Australia was fraught with troubles from lost luggage to missed airline connections.  My husband and I didn’t experience any problems besides cramped seats on a very long Air New Zealand flight, but hundreds of our fellow cruisers really suffered.

Traveling and troubles go together; they just do. The way to cope with travel troubles is to plan for mishaps, as best you can.

Here are 12 tips to help cruise ship travelers prepare so they can enjoy their expensive cruise, come what may:

  1. Expect mistakes and mishaps to happen.  Especially where thousands of people are concerned.  Be open to imperfections.  If 90% of your trip goes flawlessly, while 10% was chaotic, remember how privileged you were to even be on your vacation.But do try to anticipate problems, and have an offense ready.
  2. Complain when things go wrong, but do so constructively.  Don’t waste your energies berating the person at the desk; they are probably not in a position of power anyway. Clearly and calmly state your problem and then ask for the best person who may be able to assist you.Give people a chance to respond.  While it’s true genuinely good service can be tough to find these days, most people employed to assist you really do want to see your problems solved. 
  3. Be accurate.  Can you describe your lost luggage?  Be specific on where you need to go, and how soon you need to get there.  In long security lines, airline officials will often ferret out those passengers who may be in danger of missing their flight, and moving them to the front of the queue.
  4. Ask, ask and ask some more.  Confident persistence rather than strident aggressive behavior will usually net more desirable results.Approach your predicament with the expectation of a positive outcome.  There are varying degrees of “positive,” so be flexible.
  5. Be prepared.  Luggage goes missing all the time.  Especially on overseas flights.  Plan for such an occurrence by splitting your belongings between suitcases.  Husbands can pack some of their wives clothing; wives should do the same for their husbands.Take a change of clothing in your carry-on bag (especially if heading to a warmer climate than the one you are leaving), something to sleep in, clean underwear, a few security-approved toiletries (in a clear ZipLoc bag), medications, and anything you would need while awaiting a lost bag.
  6. Find out the facts.  Determine who is responsible for helping you.  The travel agency?  The airline?  The cruise line?  In some cases, like our recent experience with the Celebrity Mercury, someone who is not responsible for the mistake might assist you.  The ship’s concierge tracked missing luggage for days, while the ship provided new white Celebrity T-shirts, and laundering services for bereft passengers, even though the lost luggage was not the cruise line’s fault.
  7. Don’t take a chance on receiving wet luggage.  Sometimes luggage is left on the tarmac in the rain; the webbing of most soft-sided luggage is porous.  Take steps to ensure your clothing arrives dry.  Clothing items, especially fragile items, should be sealed in ZipLoc bags which come in a huge variety of sizes.
  8. Don’t purchase expensive luggage.  Airline baggage handlers are not perfect; neither are airline conveyor belts; suitcases generally take some kind of damage.  We once had a brand new set of luggage arrive two hours late on the baggage carousel looking as though the bags had been driven over by the plane – the tread marks were clearly evident.Buy cheaper yet sturdy bags, and be prepared to discard damaged pieces.
  9. Identify your luggage in several places, inside and out.  ID tags get lost when handles get ripped off.
  10. Take a quick digital image of each suitcase before checking your bags.  Use the camera you will be travelling with for easy access to picture identification should any of your bags go missing.
  11. Don’t blame the cruise ship company for inclement weather; that’s God’s department.  Port by-passes and shortened shore leaves are a common occurrence on cruise ship vacations.  Cruising is always a gamble.  “You pays your money, and you takes your chances.”
  12. Pack for 3 types of weather: Warm, cool and wet.  Alaska, in the summer, can be quite cold and wet, while northern Canada in the late spring and late fall can be blistering hot.

Remember, you are vacationing to relax; keep that as your ultimate goal.  Do what you can to prepare for potential troubles, and then like a ship on the ocean, just ride the waves, no matter how bumpy or large they may become.

Just think, you might get a really cool 100% white cotton T-shirt, emblazoned with the cruise line’s logo, out of the deal.  The poor folks on our cruise were easily identified as the ones whose luggage had gone astray, because of their bright white T-shirts.  Especially at the formal dinner.

Sheree Zielke

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3 Responses to “Tips for Enjoying Your Cruise Vacation in Spite of Mistakes and Mishaps”

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