CRUISES

A. General

Cruising began in 1800’s with the delivery of mail across the oceans.  The Britannia steamed from Liverpool to Halifax in ten days.  The first class passengers were treated in luxury while the immigrants took up the lower levels. 

United Kingdom initially dominated the ship building Industry with the first one being built in 1837 named the PS Great Western.  It was 252 feet long and held 128 passengers.  The SS Great Eastern was an iron steamship built in 1858.  It held 762 passengers.  The RMS Lusitania was built in 1907 with a length of 787 feet and holding 2198 passengers.  It sank during WWI from a torpedo.  Built in 1912 the RMS Titanic held 2435 passengers.  It sank on her maiden voyage when it hit an iceberg.  The RMS Queen Mary was built in 1936 and held 2139 passengers. 

Modern cruise ships included the MS Sovereign of the Seas.  This ship built in Norway in 1987 held 2850 passengers and was 880 feet in length.  The Voyager of the Seas was built in 1999 and held a whopping 3138 passengers.   The Navigator of the Seas surpassed this in 2003 with 4000 passengers.  The Oasis of the Seas built in 2009 had 6,780 passengers and a length of 1180 feet.  As a comparison, the USS Enterprise aircraft carrier was 58 feet shorter at 1122 feet. 

In the 1950’s cruising became social events with first class dinning, drinking, and dancing.  Princess Cruises began in 1965, Norwegian Cruise Line in 1966, Royal Caribbean in 1968, etc.  The TV series “Love Boat” in 1977 brought in the era of cruising for the average person. 

In 2016 the total ocean cruise passengers were from the United States at 11.5% of the total passenger market.   The next most cruise passengers captured 2.1 to 1.3 percent of the market from China, Germany, United Kingdom, and Australia.  The number one reason for taking a cruise was “To Relax and Get away from it all.”  The Caribbean captured 35% of the destination market with the Mediterranean claiming 15%.  South America claimed the last spot, but growing fast.  Cruise passengers were 17.8 million in 2009 and grew to 27.2 million in 2018. 

Jones Act.  Every country has their own laws governing cruise lines and bringing property into those countries.  In the United States, the Passenger Vessel Services Act (PVSA enacted 1886) prohibited any foreign vessel from transporting passengers between ports in the United States.  The Jones Act (enacted 1920) in the United States requires goods shipped between US ports must be transported on ships built, owned, and operated by United States citizens.  On the face of these laws, it would cripple most of the cruise industry practices.  Numerous exceptions make the law difficult to understand and implement.  It cannot drop off passengers at different US ports but does not apply to the beginning port and ending port, i.e. a cruise between Miami and Los Angeles is allowed.

Duty Taxes.   The US Custom Duty Tax laws are even more difficult to understand.   There is typically a flat duty to articles purchased outside the US and brought into the US at the end of the cruise.  But this is also subject to various countries, i.e. Cuba, etc.    There is an import duty or tax on jewelry brought into the US but there may be no such tax on bringing in the gemstones as separate items.  It is best to find out what the law is for the applicable product and for the applicable country.

B. Names with Embedded Links to Various Cruise Lines

There are many cruise lines that are in existence.  They cover most of the World that has an ocean port.  The travel agent provides the best advice based on personal experiences.  Most cruise lines have casino gambling, live music, Broadway musical productions, exquisite diners, and fun, fun, fun. 

The following in alphabetical order are the larger cruise lines and a link to their websites.

C. Names with Embedded Links to Services that Rate Cruises

Most Travel Agents provide the best critics and opinions for each cruise line.  If you are interested in surveys and opinions for the best cruise for the price, or one that has the most family activities, or one that has the best dinning, or the best entertainment, or best for dancing, the following websites and links are provided.  There are many reviews and ratings that are not identified below but can be discovered by a simple internet search.

D. Names with embedded Links to Services that Book Cruises

Most Travel Agents can book the cruise as well as arrange all of the transportation and connecting flights to make your trip easy and enjoyable.  All cruise lines have a link on their website to book a cruise and look at all of the features of the ship and activities.   This is a must read once you have decided to go on a cruise.

E. On-Shore Personalized Tours

This is a touchy subject.  In the early days of cruising, the cruise cost was much higher than today.  As such, most of the tours that were arranged by the cruise line were of nominal costs.  Unfortunately, in order to attract a larger number of people, they dropped the cruise prices significantly.  In order to cover this price drop they began to charge more for the amenities.  This included the shore excursions.   The shore excursions are about double the cost of the same tour when booked independent from the cruise line.  Many shore excursions are not provided by the ship, such as Segway Tours, etc. 

Guided Tours provide a unique and wonderful experience for those who have not been to that location before.  There are many companies that provide for personal tours, such as Trip Advisor.   Personal tours provide a rich experience that cannot be duplicated by a person talking at the front of a crowded bus. 

For example, a tour of the USS Hornet museum in Alameda California conducted by a World War II aviator that served on the Hornet during combat is priceless.  Personalized tours at various ports-of-call are gems that should not be ignored in favor of price.

F. Sea-Sickness

If you are prone to sea-sickness, then you must do something to combat it.  Being sea-sick on a cruise ship is like serving beer in the stadium hallway at the 7th game of the World Series and your son is up to bat in the 9th inning in a tied game with two outs and the bases loaded.  That analogy should give you a better understanding of the problem.

There are things that you can do.  Pick a room near the middle of the ship on the lowest floor of your cabin class.  Get a room with balcony so that you can see the horizon.  When attending a show in the theater (always located in the front of the Ship) sit in the back center.  Avoid the side balconies.  During rough seas, avoid the front or back of the ship as much as possible.  Some say move your head in the direction and same speed as the swaying ship.  Avoid looking at tiny screens like cell phones and computers.  Fresh air may help. 

There are prescription and over-the-counter medications that can be taken.  Try them out before you go on the trip.  Some medications may make your mouth dry.  There are various pressure bracelets that some say work.  There are ginger type herbs that work for many people.  They sell these herbs in candy form.  Carbonated Ginger Ale helps.