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Keep Cruising and Keep Traveling - It is Safe

In the time that has followed since the tragic events of September 11, we have seen numerous changes happening to us all.

These changes began with shock, disbelief and anguish and so overwhelmed us, that they made all work related issues seem trivial and personal relationship seem especially dear. And believe me, this hits very close to home with a wife who works in the cruise industry in the United States.

Those of us in the travel business began to see numerous cancellations of long planned holidays and vacations, mostly from fear and misunderstanding of security, schedule changes even with the combined will and effort of the cruise industry attempting to keep passengers traveling and enjoying the process.

Should you take a vacation? Should you travel? I think we North Americans pride ourselves on our freedom to travel and enrich our lives by interacting with cultures from all over. To cocoon and avoid travel allows those who seek to destroy our freedoms the power to bring us to our knees.

I believe that America will not stop travelling, it is in our blood. The key is to increase your knowledge of travel related issues and to understand how the process has changed. What follows is a synopsis of the changes you can expect to see for the near and distant future.

What can I expect at the airport? There are stricter security measures on airport employees, merchants, airline employees, and vendors that service the airports?and also on travelers. Expect the line that you are standing in to take longer than before. Plan for longer time at the airport to park, check-in, and get to departing gate. You may also experience some inconveniences and delays - please be patient.

There will be thorough searches of all airports and airplanes before passengers are allowed to enter the aircraft. You will be required to limit carry on baggage and to possess government issued photo identification, and as always, I strongly urge you to obtain a passport as the most important piece of identification. You may also notice additional uniformed law enforcement officers and canine teams patrolling airports - all to guarantee your safety.

What changes will you see regarding your cruise experience? Embark and Disembark may take longer due to additional security measures. Strict enforcement of required identification and nationality/travel papers. Boarding will be denied without presenting proper documents. Your documents must be original - no copies will be allowed.

Here are the Top Ten Cruise Traveler Tips

1. Purchase trip/vacation interruption insurance. Check with your travel agent as to the coverage benefits and limitations.

2. Review your cruise documents in advance for important guidelines and travel tips. Again check with knowledgeable cruise agents to ensure you are well prepared.

3. Prior to leaving home, call the airline - or check their website for flight arrival and departure information

4. Be at the airport early - 2 hours or more unless local circumstances dictate allowing a longer time. Security screenings will take additional time.

5. Minimize carry-on luggage OR be prepared to have them searched and suspicious items confiscated (nail files, scissors/clippers etc.) Please make sure luggage is clearly tagged with the complete color bag-tags provided with your documents.

6. Make sure necessary medical items are with you rather than in checked luggage.

7. Make sure you have your passport and other identification on your person - not in checked baggage. 8. Lower the stress level of "getting to the ship on-time" by arranging a pre-cruise land package. Consider coming in a day early - especially when flying a long distance to the cruise.

9. Expect delays and longer lines than usual - and be pleasantly surprised if they are not that bad.

10. Be patient - once on board your cruise, you will have the fantastic time cruising is noted for.

To be very practical consider that if you look at the damage on September 11, the total number of deaths on the airlines is 288 including crew and militants. I will guarantee you that since September 11 more than 288 people have lost their lives on America's highways. It is estimated that greater than 34,000 will lose their lives traveling on the road and if you average that per day, 93 people daily will not make it to their destination via car. Flying is still the safest form of traveling.

This writer believes we have an obligation to continue the business of life, to live freely and to travel when and where we want within the constraints of common sense. To do other would suggest the terrorists have won.

Rest assured the cruise lines have made major changes in itineraries to place their ships in the safest and most enjoyable voyages possible. The Middle East itineraries may be eliminated for the duration but there are fantastic values on hundreds of other itineraries.

If you are concerned, sit down with a cruise expert and discuss your situation face to face to learn why cruising remains a safe, and enjoyable vacation and why now is the time to make your plans.

The good news today is that more people than are enjoying the hassle free way of cruising than ever before - securely!

Talk to your agent about price protection, deposits, penalties or lack of for cancellation and all the little details that will help assure a vacation like none other on earth. See you on board!

Sid Kaplan Cruise Vacations Guide

Sid Kaplan has extensive experience in the travel business. He owned and operated a large retail cruise only agency in Canada and his wife has 25 years experience working for major cruise lines. Their website is Cruise Vacations Guide which offers advice and tips to those looking to create memorable cruise vacations. Shore excursion and land tour information is also provided. Cruise, hotel, car rental and vacation adventure booking online.

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