How to Get Over Your Fear and Overcome Obstacles to Cruising

carnival cruise

Anxiety over cruising. It’s a real thing. Especially if you are prone to motion sickness or are a control freak. Both of these conditions afflict me.

A few years ago I went out with my husband and a few friends on a 19’ish foot boat in the Florida Keys, against my better judgement. Anything under, oh say, 800 feet and I get sea sick.  I’m fine in a smaller boat if it’s moving, but once it stops, someone is going to be chumming the water. So after about an hour of the boat being anchored, I started to feel like I do the morning after a long night of drinking. I tried every trick in the book…look at the horizon, keep something in your stomach, I even jumped in the water but the wave on wave action continued to take its toll on me and I couldn’t do anything, so I just cried. And then begged for a ride back to shore.

These are the reasons why I didn’t take a cruise until I was almost 24 years old…

What if I get seasick?

Sea-band

Go on a big boat.

Small boats = big motion. Large boats = little motion.

So I hadn’t taken a cruise since 1999 then in 2011 I had the opportunity to take a three nighter on the Disney DREAM.  It was complementary and I was going to be able to spend copious amounts of time with one of my girlfriends and our daughters. If ever there was a time to dip my feet back into international waters it was this!  The Disney DREAM is one of Disney’s larger vessels. At 1,115 feet long it measures the length of almost four football fields.  I’d say my odds of getting seasick just went way down so I packed up my sunscreen and flip flops and boarded my first cruise in 12 years.

Some background..I am a girl who get motion sicknes from the slightest things. Driving through mountains, riding in the backseat of a car, airplanes, floating docks, virtual reality, etc.

Of course I had been freaking out in the days leading up to the cruise. OMG! I’m going to be trapped on a boat! What if I’m seasick the entire time. My husband had been trying to coax me back onto a cruise ship for a few years so he was pissed I was going without him. Our previous conversations looked something like this:

Him: “Just take Dranamine”.
Me: “You mean Dramimine?”
Him: “Yeah, Dranamine.”
Me: “I’m not going to take drugs to do something that I don’t want to do in the first place.”

(I like to use little things like Sea Bands which are pictured above, hugs…not drugs…for your wrists that uses acupressure to control nausea)

So back to the Disney DREAM…We were sitting on the deck watching the “Sail Away” festivities in Port Canaveral and I had my back to the port when my daughter said, “Hey ma, We’re moving.” Say wha!? I turned around and saw that yes, we in fact had been moving, cruising right out of port, and I hadn’t even felt the boat move. Behold the beauty of the “Super Ship”!

Tip: Pick a cruise itinerary that has more days in port than sea-days. This way the ship is docked in a port somewhere and is not moving.

Your vacation relies too much on the weather.

carnival dream mahogany bay roatan cruise

Don’t all vacations? Sure cruises are better with calm seas and sunshine but that’s the beauty of being on a moving vessel. If the captain sees rough waters or a storm he can navigate around it. Cruise ships offer loads of indoor activities. Including Broadway style shows, movie screenings, gambling, kids and teen clubs, trivia, bars, karaoki, buffets, tastings, bingo, scavenger hunts, libraries, shopping, nightclubs, tours, spas and fitness centers. The Carnival Splendor even has a retractable roof over the pool that can be covered when inclement weather rolls around.

I’m a control freak and I’ll feel trapped.

Quantum of the Seas royal caribbean renderings

This was a BIG one for me. My flight or fight response is strong. It’s human nature. We are genetically wired this way. It’s how we’ve survived for hundreds of years. Oh there’s a lion over there. Time to run. When we sense danger, the natural reaction is to run away from it. If you’re really not enjoying your crusie you can book a flight home from your next port. Some fear for their safety when cruising. I polled friends on twitter and facebook and here are the fears they expressed:

  • I’m claustrophobic – Take a look at the Royal Caribbean Quantum of the Seas renderings above. Lots of large open and airy spaces.
  • I don’t want to met the Titanic’s fate – A reasonable fear. The titanic hit an iceberg. Take a Caribbean cruise.
  • I might get norovirus – ShipDetective reports that in 2013 there were nine CDC investigations into a serious outbreak of sickness. Serious meaning 2% or more of the passengers got sick. That’s nine out of hundreds. If you’ve never been on a cruise, or haven’t been on one lately, you’d be surprised at the sanitation that goes on onboard. Many ships have cruise staff handing out wet wipes at the entrance to every restaurant and Purell stations placed all over the vessel. You take your chances anytime you go somewhere where loads of other people have been. Hotel rooms, airplanes, you can’t let a fear of germs run your life. This is something I have had to get over. I’m the biggest germaphobe in the world. In fact, I came down with something on my last Disney cruise, which my daughter had had back at home, and I didn’t show symptoms of it til the second day of our cruise. You know what I did? I watched movies in my cabin and ordered free soup from room service.  I didn’t have that option all the summers that I spent sick on vacation in a cabin in West Virginia.
  • There aren’t enough things to do – See “Your vacation relies too much on the weather” above. I’ve gone on 7-night cruises where I didn’t even get to explore some areas of the ship because there was so much to do. Especially when you get off to explore different ports. And speaking of ports. Cruises are a great way to see the world on the cheap. Where else can you visit five different countries in a week for less than $100 a day?
  • Don’t wan to be disconnected from the mainland – Maybe you have some things going on back home that need your attention, or that you might need to attend to at a moments notice. If so, cruising may not be for you. However, if your fear is no cell phone or internet connectivity, there are solutions. Most ships have internet hubs with computers for passengers to use. They also offer guest wi-fi internet packages. Sure these services come at a cost, but if you need them, they are there. Also, many cell phone carriers offer international add-on packages that you can put on your phone for just the time you are cruising and then take off when you return home.  And there’s something to be said about disconnecting. Last month my husband, daughter and I went on the Carnival Dream for seven nights. We were all somewhat disconnected from technology and it was the best family vacation we had ever been on…ever.

I don’t have anyone to cruise with

norwegian epic studio room cruise

Solo traveler…meet the Norwegian Epic! Awarded “Best Cruise Line for Solo Travelers” by Porthole Magazine in 2012. Norwegian Epic is the ship of choice that was specifically designed and priced with the solo traveler in mind. They offer a studio room with a full size bed if you prefer to cruise alone.  Studio guests have private key card access to The Living Room, which is a shared private lounge that boasts a bar, seating two large TV screens.

Money

carnival kids sail free

I have 19 kids and counting. I can’t afford to take all those kids on a cruise ship. Many cruises offer “kids sail free” promotions. In fact, Carnival is running such a promotion right now. When two adults pay, up to three kids can stay in the room with them for free. Another tip to scoring a reduced rate on a cruise is to check resident rate specials. The last three Disney cruises I’ve taken have either been Florida Resident rate or Cast Member rate cruises. Many times, you need only have one resident in the stateroom, so find out what port you want to leave from and call up a friend who lives there.  These reduced rate cruises are offered closer to sailings so you have to be flexible. Cruises can also be booked and paid for in installments. If you cruise on off-peak seasons, you can find rack rates so low your jaw would hit the floor. You can also find great deals during the busy Summer months because families are looking to take longer cruises. This means that the two, three and four night cruises are usually discounted.

So there’s a few things to consider if you’ve been on the fence about ponying up money for a cruise vacation. As a foodie, cruising presents me with the opportunity to eat my face off. If you’re an adventure seeker this is an opportunity to see new places and do things you’ve never done before without committing to a long stay. If you end up really liking a port destination, you know you can then go home and book a longer stay for future travel. If you just need some R&R you can get that from cruising as well. Sure, cruising isn’t for everyone. Just don’t wind up with regret like I had about not revisiting cruising sooner.

2 Comments

  • Claire Dorby says:

    Thank you! I read this hours away from boarding my first cruise and after a sleepless night due to the exact anxieties I have described. Reading this has calmed me and I feel more positive about actually enjoying my holiday rather than dreading it!!

  • caryn gibson says:

    Good morning. My name is Caryn and I just read the post you made about taking a cruise and your fears of cruising. My daughter, Grace, sounds exactly like you and the anxiety and fears you experienced. She is also afraid of elevators, floating docks, boats rocking and used to be afraid of flying and movie theaters but that is better. She has major panic attacks if we even suggest she get on an elevator. We ended up booking a family cruise because she said she really wanted to try. But now it’s 8 days away and she is already in panic mode. Just trying the ear patch yesterday gave her anxiety and cried last night. She wants to try but is feeling she is not ready. Her worst fear is being trapped on the boat for two days before she can get off in Jamaica. Also she fears being able to feel the boat moving while trying to sleep. We are thinking of cancelling the trip. Any suggestions? From your experience, do you think she is too young to try with the anxiety she has? Thanks for your time, Caryn

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