Now that the ship's passengers are cleaned and fed and better able to look back upon their awful journey as a supreme travel tale of woe, perhaps it's time to reassess the mess that was the voyage of the Carnival Triumph.
What I'm picking up is a long-bottled up resentment of the industry. Although much of the "I'll never take a cruise" outcry comes from those who never or rarely board a ship, tales of dissatisfaction and discomfort are being posted and tweeted throughout social media outlets.
A few of the main themes:
-Crews are underpaid and overworked, resulting in potential health and safety problems.
-There's a going-through-the-motions attitude about drills and safety.
-For profit's sake, too many people are encouraged to drink too much, and are being crowded into ships that more and more resemble multi-storied floating malls with hotels attached, with glimpses of the sea only from certain decks and tiny balconies.
I won't deny the above and the need to address those issues with more than lip-service.
And the recent debacles of the Costa Concordia on its deadly side along the Tuscan Coast, and the recent engine fires, norovirus outbreaks, and images of raw sewage and onion sandwiches are not inclined to make anyone feel like embarking up a gangplank.
That said, I truly feel that this is just the kind of story that the media descends upon like a lion on a warthog, tearing it up until the last shred of raw meat is consumed, and until the next big meal. The story is newsworthy, but needs a bit of balance in the bigger picture.
Cruising, like all forms of transportation, has both good and bad elements. Like airlines, cruise lines are regulated to some degree and vary in some degree. Some lines are more comfortable and have better safety records than others. But as stressful as a situation may be, and as many tales of woe that we may tell, the reality is that both the airline and the cruise industries boast excellent safety records, and provide comfort and enjoyment to millions of passengers who return year after year.
In cruising, as in flying, we do give over control for the most part. But we retain some control, as well. We can choose exemplary cruise lines (and pay more). We can wash our hands carefully and control our drinking. We can stay off high heels on slippery stairs in rough seas. We can purchase insurance that offers helicopter rescue in case of medical emergency.
I've taken over 50 cruises, with no major incidents. I've crossed the roughest waters in the world along the Drake Passage, and maneuvered through ice in Antarctica on a ship holding 500 people. So far so good. Yes, I do realize the risks, and I'm willing to take them. But cruising is an amazing, cost-effective opportunity to see the world, and if the itinerary is right, I'd board again in a minute.
And one byproduct of the Triumph's sad tale is that for anyone willing to cruise in the next few months, the bargains are going to be fabulous.
Especially on one particular cruise line.