The unexpected: part of traveling, even on cruise ships

If we travel by air, we hope our flight will be on time, our luggage makes it with us without damage and that no one sits next to us in that vacant seat. Once at our destination, we hope for good weather, friendly people along the way and the opportunity to make great memories that will last a lifetime. That’s pretty much universal regardless of what we’re doing. Still, the unexpected does happen and there are two ways to look at it when plans go awry. We can be disappointed and allow deviations from our plans to ruin our travels or we can accept those deviations, regroup and move along, often ending up with a richer, more fulfilling experience than we ever dreamed of, let alone planned on.

Be it Backpacking, Hiking, Camping, Climbing, Scuba Divng, Skiing, Surfing or Biking, we hope for the best. Smart travelers prepare for the worst too and usually end up with an experience somewhere between good and great if we did our homework. We know things can go wrong and do what we can to avoid situations where that might happen. All-inclusive vacation packages or cruise vacations promise to take a lot of the guesswork out of the equation but sometimes the unexpected happens with those as well.

Earlier this week, Carnival Pride was docked at Port Canaveral earlier when an 85-knot guest of wind blew the ship out of position and caused some minor damage. The result was a late departure from Port Canaveral and a modified itinerary that skipped good-port Nassau, leaving not-so-good-port Freeport, Bahamas as an overnight visit.

This was not the cruise that passengers paid for, true. But travelers, and cruise passengers in particular, often forget that the very nature of travel brings upon us the unexpected from time to time. That is part of the deal as well. It’s not spelled out in any contract or brochure but the unexpected happens. Sometimes, even with the best of preparation, the unexpected happens and there is nothing we can do to prevent it. We can, however, roll with those unexpected changes and make the best of it. Often, it is the unexpected that elicit some of the best travel experiences that we will be talking about long after the end of that vacation.

Andy Hayes (@Andrewghayes) is the managing editor of and recommends:

  • Always Take the High Road. Being a total jerk doesn’t do anybody any favors, and usually works against you. Remember, it isn’t usually the employee you’re dealing with who caused the issue (and even if it was, still…). Be firm and friendly.
  • Get on the Phone. If you’re stuck in long queues (esp at the airport), get on the phone as sometimes a phone agent can be easier to reach and can get you a manager to authorize off-policy changes. It is better to deal with someone in person though, so use the phone option as a backup.
  • Accept what you can’t change. When the weather or mistakes or whatever means that you just aren’t going to get home on time, or you’re going to miss out on something special, try to find the inner peace to accept it. Yeah, it sucks, but if you let that negative energy fester it can spoil your entire vacation.
That’s good advice that can be applied to just about any travel situation. Often, the difference between “I had a lousy time” and “That was awesome!” have to do with how we look at the unexpected. We can choose to be mad about changes that come our way or we can choose to take those changes in stride, determined to get the most out of every situation we are in, regardless of what that might be.

While cruise lines publish itineraries far in advance of sailing, like a hiking trip, variables along the way can change what actually happens. A gust of wind made a real impact on the cruise experience of passengers on that Carnival ship earlier this week.

A similar gust of wind might have altered the plans of someone on a camping trip, blowing their tent down. If you have ever camped much, you know that happens. You take precautions by pitching that tent in the right direction, using long enough stakes set deep and at an angle to keep them in the ground. But every once in a while you might come back from a hike and find that tent blown down. It happens. You get over it. You move along. It is certainly nothing that will ruin your day or the entire trip.

Cruise passengers need to have that same attitude about itineraries, on-board programs, off-the-ship activities and the like. The unexpected is part of traveling, a part not to be feared but just dealt with when it happens. If possible, turn it in to a good thing, a shared experience with others. It’s often just how we look at it.

Flickr photo by Sparkles Tuey

Cruises from Baltimore sailing year-round

Royal Caribbean, the cruise line that brought us the largest cruise ships in the world is sailing from Baltimore sailing year-round.

Offering a series of five and nine-night sailings, 2,252 passenger Enchantment of the Seas replaced 1,950-passenger Grandeur of the Seas. Initial five-night sailings to Bermuda will featured an overnight stay at Kings Wharf. Nine-night sailings to the Eastern Caribbean will call in San Juan, Puerto Rico; Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas; Samana, Dominican Republic and Labadee, Haiti; the line’s private beach destination.

Sailing year-round from Baltimore since 2009, Carnival Cruise Line’s Carnival Pride offers a seven-night itinerary to Florida and the Bahamas with stops at Port Canaveral, Florida then Nassau and Freeport in the Bahamas with three days at sea.

That’s more good news for the Port of Baltimore who recently set a new cruise passenger record for the port for the second year in a row. The future looks bright too with an anticipated 112 sailings scheduled in 2011, up from 91 in 2010.

Flickr photo by timmenzies