Saturday, October 20, 2018

Communicating with Travel Companions

It's Cruise Ship Saturday! Today we're talking about communication with your travel companions.

Cruise line brochures give the impression that your vacation will be perfect. People laughing at the railing with blue skies and calm seas in the background. Families hugging each other. Waiters dropping off drinks by the pool. Nothing but glorious nights and fun-filled days. It'll be just like that for you, right?

Maybe. And then again maybe not.

Cruise ship behavior isn't much different that behavior found on any other vacation. Except that on a cruise ship people tend to get tired and frustrated and impatient, get tunnel vision, and forget their manners. Even on a cruise ship some people get mad over little things. Their angry dispositions affect children and spouses, other passengers, and the ship’s crew. We have seen it too many times to count.

If you are cruising with family members or friends, plan ahead. Make sure your travel companions know what you are expecting from them and what they should expect from you. If you want some alone time let them know. If you’re used to being the one who plans everyone’s days and feels responsible for entertaining them perhaps a cruise is the time for you to relax. Being the travel planner/booker/arranger/idea person in my family, a cruise is actually the best chance I get at having a vacation. My work is done ahead of time and the ship does the rest. No having to pack and unpack multiple times. (Once and done.) No needing to decide what movie the family is going to watch. (There are many choices throughout the voyage.) No worrying about getting dinner ready. (Food is everywhere.) No worrying about being stuck together in the same room on a rainy day. (There is an entire ship to roam.) No making beds. (Cabin stewards do that.) No trying to find a babysitter. (That’s why cruise ships have kids clubs.)

If cruising with kids, discuss expectations with them ahead of time as well. They will be participating in what are generally considered adult-type activities so prepare them for the dining room by practicing proper table manners. A cruise is the opportune time for them to practice how to behave when attending a show or performance. It’s a perfect time for them to learn about giving up seats to the elderly. Experienced cruise passengers will be much more tolerant when kids are well behaved. While kids don’t have to be perfect, people will judge them (and you) when they misbehave, especially if the behavior goes unaddressed. Just a heads up.

But remember, this is your vacation, too. Ships have staffed youth and teen centers with activities for different age groups. Use them and you might find your children enjoy going. Group and individual babysitting may also be available for a fee.

Despite how long the lines are, how your steak was under cooked, how your children aren’t listening, how the toilet won't flush, or how your husband won’t leave you alone, remember these important must-do’s for a great vacation:
  • Relax and go with the flow.
  • Be patient and flexible.
  • Look for the good in everyone.
  • Know there will be lines. Chat up the folks standing around you.
  • Be prepared for pools being closed and ports being missed.
  • Smile at other passengers. Smile at the crew cleaning your tables, the ones varnishing the rails, the ones handing out pool towels. Talk to the them about their lives. Ask them about their contract, about their family back home, and about how they spent their time in port.
  • Be open to new ideas. You will be cruising with people from different countries with different customs, languages, and backgrounds.
  • Know that everything won’t be perfect but you’ll still have a great vacation. Cruising is what you make of it. If you see the positive in everything it will be amazing. If you see the negative, you will find things wrong. Remember, a bad day on a cruise ship is better than a good day at work! 
Please don't be one of those passengers who throw a little tantrum because you're not happy. All the rest of us will remember how you treated your companions. I know you won't see us again, but you will for the next seven days.