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It’s a Safer Way to See the World

One of the major advantages to cruising is that it gives you a relatively safe way of seeing the world. Let’s face it – Americans aren’t exactly popular in some parts of the world.

Someone in my family recently chastised me for my tastes in vacations. I can’t remember their exact words, but it was something along the lines of:

“I just don’t know what’s wrong with you. Why would you want to spend your vacations in places like Russia or the Middle East? Why can’t you take nice vacations like your sister? She just took the kids to Disney World”.

Well, that statement brought a few different things to mind. The first thing that came to mind was that my sister should do what makes her happy. If she prefers to go to Disney World rather than visit a bunch of “dangerous third world countries” then I am behind her 100%. There is no denying that my sister and I have different tastes. Her dream vacation probably wouldn’t appeal to me anymore than a peek behind the Iron Curtin would appeal to her. Besides, my sister has her kids to think about. If Taz and I had kids I’m sure that we would probably rethink some of our travel destinations.

I’m sure that the person who made the comment about my travel preferences probably understands that my sister and I have different tastes. After all, my sister is the sane one, so of course her tastes are going to be different from mine. What many people in my family don’t seem to understand though, is that traveling by cruise ship tends to be safer than traveling by land.

If you have ever wanted to visit a country, but weren’t sure if it was a safe place to visit, then arriving by cruise ship is a great way to minimize the risks. One way that cruise ships help to keep you safe in potentially dangerous foreign countries is by getting you in and out in a relatively short period of time.

Normally, a ship will arrive in port in the morning, and by evening you are already sailing to your next destination. As such, you don’t have to worry about being in the city after dark. More importantly though, limiting the amount of time spent in a potentially dangerous place reduces the chances that anything will happen.

Another way in which cruise ships keep you safe is that when you travel by ship you are able to avoid some of the more dangerous locations. Terrorists tend to target airports, subways, and hotels. When you take a cruise, you can easily avoid these types of locations.

The cruise lines also set up a secure perimeter around the ship. Have you ever stayed in a hotel that required you to pass through several security check points before entering? Me either, but that is exactly what happens when you board a cruise ship.

Where ever you are visiting, the port area is usually secure. The local authorities don’t usually allow just anyone access to the docks. The cruise line also sets up a secure perimeter around the ship, and only cruise line employees and cruise passengers are allowed to pass through this check point. Once on board, passengers must usually pass through yet another security check point. This time the cruise line’s security staff not only checks the passenger’s IDs, but passengers must also pass through a metal detector. Any items that the passengers are carrying are sent through an X-ray machine.

More importantly though, if you book a shore excursion with the ship, then you will usually board a tour bus while within the secure area. At the end of your tour, the bus will take you back into the secure area. This goes a long way toward allowing you to safely visit a potentially dangerous place.

I realize that Taz and I have probably visited some places that most cruise ship passengers wouldn’t. After all, the Middle East probably isn’t most people’s idea of a great place for a vacation. However, even some of the places that you might assume to be safe really aren’t.

A perfect example of such a place is Colon, Panama. Panama Canal cruises are very popular, and you might never have given a second thought to whether or not Panama was a safe place to visit. As Taz and I drove through the streets of Colon however, we both kept talking about how glad we were that we had decided to visit by ship rather than trying to fly to Panama and get a hotel room.

Much of Colon is filled with urban slums, burned out buildings, and rampant poverty. The brightly colored paint and occasional topiary shrubs between traffic lanes do little to disguise the fact that Colon can be a pretty rough place.

Keep in mind that I’m not telling you that you shouldn’t visit Panama. The Panama Canal is an engineering wonder, and is definitely worth seeing, as are the surrounding rain forests. When I am saying is that the cruise lines do a good job of keeping passengers safe in a potentially dangerous city.

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