Ship Happens…

We all pay for our cruises with hard-earned vacation dollars, and we look forward to, and expect "smooth sailing." And most of the time, that's what we get. However, there are times when the unexpected can jump out and bite us. How we deal with these moments can be the defining moments of our vacations. I'm here to offer some "Kuki" tips on how to react when "Ship Happens."

Situation 1: With the assistance of your travel agent, you booked a cruise line's air/sea package, figuring that by letting them handle all your travel arrangements, you'll be guaranteed a seamless vacation experience. But when your documents arrive seven days prior to departure, you find that you're booked on a flight leaving your home city at 6:30 a.m. with stops in Cleveland, Pittsburgh and Atlanta, and final arrival in the port city eight hours after you left home.


Knowing you could fly to Istanbul in less time, you call the airline to see if it can reroute you. Once you're told there is nothing they can do at this time, you remember to check whether you have seat assignments--only to find out that your family of five is seated all over the airplane. You hastily call your travel agent, who assures you he will do everything possible to remedy the situation, but you know this close to your travel date, it's unlikely anything will be done.

At this point, what can you do to make sure this doesn't undermine your vacation?

If you're me� You would take solace from the fact someone else will have to put up with your children for the eight hours of travel. Remind yourself of the money you've saved not having to buy the cards and electronic games you were prepared to buy to occupy the little darlings on the airplane. Thanks to the cruise line, this is all someone else's problem now!

To avoid the possibility of this situation arising with an air/cruise package, request AIR DEVIATION. For a fee, ranging from $35-$50/person, the cruise lines allow you to specify the flights you'd like instead of simply accepting what they want to give you. They'll research your selection and tell you whether there's an additional cost. In most cases, I've found there is no extra charge. If there is, you can decide whether to pay the fee or decline the change. If you decline, you are not charged the deviation fee. Your air arrangements are normally confirmed 30 days prior to sailing. Be certain you get that information when it becomes available, and call the airlines to prearrange seat selection.

Situation 2: You're sociable and enjoy meeting people, so you've requested seating at a large table in the dining room. You arrive for dinner the first evening onboard, and are delighted to find you've been seated at a lovely table for eight, right by a window. Your other six table-mates join you, and you discover they are a group from Chechnya traveling together, who speak no English.

So what can you do?

If you're me� You realize you can spend the entire week at dinner saying whatever you like about your table-mates, right to their faces! Consider the fun you can have as you smile and tell the gentlemen their wives look like they would make good plow horses, or ask the wives if they lost a bet and had to marry their husbands.

To avoid this situation entirely, simply see the Maitre D and request a change of tables. He will be happy to remedy the situation for you.

Situation 3: You're cruising the Western Caribbean, you're excited because you've always wanted to see Grand Cayman, and today is the day. As you eat breakfast, preparing to disembark, the Captain announces that due to winds it is not safe to tender passengers to the pier, so the ship will head out to sea for the day.

How can you make certain this does not adversely affect your vacation?

If you're me� You think better of swimming for shore, and order a tray full of umbrella drinks from the first waiter you see.

Unfortunately, there are times when this situation is unavoidable. Due to weather or sea conditions, captains sometimes have to make the decision to skip a scheduled port. Passengers have to realize the decision is made with their safety in mind, so do what I would do�order a tray full of umbrella drinks from the first waiter you see.

By now, you've probably got the notion of how to react when "Ship Happens." There are endless possibilities for things to go slightly wrong, but thankfully they rarely do. The important thing is to adapt to the situation: Find a bright side, and do not allow these little mishaps to spoil your vacation.

If the problems are severe in nature, find the correct person onboard who will do the utmost to find a solution. If the situation cannot be remedied, store the information in the back of your mind and have your travel agent address your issues with the cruise line on your behalf. Even in these situations, there's plenty of time to deal with it when you Get home. Don't make the mistake of letting it rob you of your vacation!

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