Preparing for your cruise experience

The sub-title of this post is "If you are expecting first-world experiences, you best research the ports of call on your cruise".

Recently, I read a cruise review where the person noted that "poverty is depressing". They seemed surprised by the fact that the countries they visited had a lot of poverty. Considering the cruise being reviewed was through Central America, I had to wonder why the person was surprised. But clearly, they had no concept of the countries to which they were traveling.

Poverty is distressing but it is real. Coming face to face with it when unprepared for it can take a bit of getting used to. Too many people from first world countries take what they have for granted and seem to have expectations that everyone enjoys the same modern conveniences of life. That is just not the case.

I was blessed to have visited South Africa a few years ago. The living conditions I saw in the townships of Khayelitsha and Langa were like nothing I'd ever seen but I took the opportunity to learn about these places and met some of the people living there. People who were happy and thankful for what they had achieved.

Riding through villages on our excursions through Costa Rica, Guatemala, and Panama I realized again that not everyone in this world enjoys the same quality of life and standard of living... and that those things are quite relative. While I may not be able to imagine living in the same conditions, I respect that it is how some people live... quite happily at that.‚ I don't project my own beliefs and perspectives onto others and judge my surroundings to be depressing. Getting to know a couple of the locals gives context to what I see around me.

‚I guess what I am getting around to is that while cruising is a fabulous way to travel, the ports we visit and the surrounding countryside are not necessarily living in the same first-world status from where we all come from. It is very important to do a bit of research into the area(s) into which you cruising before deciding on an itinerary. If second or third world surroundings is likely to be depressing to you, maybe it is better to pick another voyage.

9 Answers

Well said and quite true! Poverty should be depressing anywhere and every little bit that you do to promote the tourism they survive on is a good thing. I saw more beggars asking for a handout in Astoria and Alaska than I have ever seen on any island. Many that hand make things out of palm leaves or coconut shells are proud of their craft and the few bucks they get for it!

It is really important to also note that locations change over time and what was once safe, may not be today. Check out the current information not a review from a few years ago! Poverty and crime do not necessarily go hand in hand!

My first cruise stopped in Haiti, where we saw people living in squalor. Some of the passengers complained about going through that area. They needed to be uncomfortable and understand that the islands are not all fancy resorts and pristine beaches.

Agree with you!

The first time we went to Mexico we were shocked. Not by the abject poverty, but by the fact it was everywhere. The cruiselines, and the country, does nothing to hide it. Which is good because it's a real eye opener. Depressing, yes, but cause to be thankful for what we have.

That's one thing we like most about cruising: seeing other places as they are, not as just exotic destinations.

Even with the poverty, I sometimes wonder who is luckier. I can often get a sense of peace and contentment that I can remember from my childhood. We didn't have anything much, and neither did any of our friends and neighbors, but we enjoyed our families and neighbors a lot more.

Well said, Grandma Jo. As much as we enjoy the touristy pretty areas of the ports, we also appreciate seeing what life is really like outside of the tourist areas. We've seen people living a much simpler life without all of the things we take for granted, and they seem very happy. Children are innocent, play in the streets, and laughing. They may be poor, but they don't have the stress that a lot of "us" have due to wanting to have the latest technology, name brand clothes, huge homes and vacations galore. A simple life just might be a better life.

Totally agree in that we need to see the reality that they live in and are even happy with it. I am at the breaking point with technology in our household, we do not have satelite or cable tv, we use a roku with internet. Based on what DW has told me, our 4 cell phones now cost us $200 a month, that is $2400 a year, thats a cruise peeps! i know it is also more than some people in Jamaica make all year.

I was so glad that the boys were able to see how other parts of the world lived, Chan told us "Thank you for taking me on this cruise, I really appreciate it!" That made me smile.

This made me laugh because semi-jokingly we translate every big purchase into cruise dollars. We finished the attic in our home this year so my niece and her daughter would have a safe place to live. When we were looking at the price tag, we both reacted with "well that's half our cruise budget for the year!"

So true Brian. Cell phones are necessary for many of us but they sure can be costly depending on the plans we have. There was an article in the news not long ago pointing out that Canadians pay more for cell phone plans than any other country. There goes more of our cruise/vacation funds. Crying


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