In recent columns, we have talked about what to prepare before you take a trip and getting through the flying maze.

I think we need to spend a little time on travel alternatives.

Flying is not the only way to get somewhere. An alternative is traveling by sea.

Marvelous floating “palaces” exist for your travel consideration. Cruises to a variety of locations abound.

The pace is slower than flying, is usually more relaxing and can satisfy those who have a fear of flying.

By the way, don’t sell the “fear of flying” short. This is not just an excuse used by some to avoid the costs or potential dangers of flying, but can be a severely debilitating illness with real symptoms.

If you are prone to claustrophobia it is a concern, being locked up in a small space without any control on your part to make you feel safe.

Of course, the usual cabins on a ship are also small, but at least you can control your movement about the ship.

I see two main drawbacks to travel by sea.

One is seasickness, which most of us are susceptible to, some to more of a degree than others. But, the rolling of a ship, particularly in rough seas, can confine you to your stateroom and your wastebasket when it is bad.

The good news, of course, is that there are a variety of helpful medications, and it never hurts to get some medication to take with you, just in case. Best consult with your doctor before you choose which ones to try.

The second drawback is the food. In most instances, the food will be extraordinarily delicious. It is also available in vast quantities.

You can start off with breakfast, have a midmorning snack, lunch, tea in the afternoon, dinner, midnight buffet, fast foods anytime and finally room service.

I warn people that if they plan a cruise to also expect a weight gain of 3 pounds a day.

Unless, of course, you have a plan. There are varieties of ways you can minimize your weight gain.

Most vessels have some type of fitness center as part of the ship’s amenities. You can use them.

Also, there are usually some types of areas to walk and even run, in some cases, on a track, all around the ship.

Finally, of course, you could also eat less, but I am not sure you can count on being strong enough to achieve that goal.

After all, remember how delicious it is and that you are paying for it anyway, whether you eat or not.

Finally, remember that even though the safety record associated with sea travel is very good, these ships are machines and can experience a variety of mechanical problems that can delay travelers. And, as in air travel, lots of people in a confined space can result in the transmission of contagious diseases that could involve hundreds of shipmates.

My personal bias, which I mention here only to give “the other side of the story,” is during a cruise you are constrained by the requirements of having to follow the ship’s schedule. That means shore excursions may be limited in time and location.

These excursions will usually be limited to areas in and around the port your ship visits. There is the rest of the country to visit, but it may be impossible during your cruise. On the other hand, if you don’t want the excursions and just want to relax on the ship, you will be just fine.

Once again, bon voyage.

Dr. Michael M. Warren is Ashbel Smith professor of surgery at University of Texas Medical Branch Division of Urology. Write him at

(3) comments

Jim Casey

Cruise ships are in fact floating hotels and amusement parks. The only destinations from Galveston are Caribbean islands and some destinations on the east coast of Mexico—which is fine for a vacation.

No one is going to take a cruise ship to Europe or Asia.

The good doctor can't, by medical ethics, mention treatment to patients that he hasn't examined in person; but I will—Scopalimine patches as a treatment for motion sickness. They don't always work, but when they work, they do..

- Jim

Mary Branum

But people do take cruises to Europe and Asia. In fact we have taken 7 cruises from Galveston to Europe and Europe to Galveston.
The Navigator of the Seas left last year from Galveston to Barcelona to Dubai to Singapore and there were locals on the ship.
Never have been seasick - the stabilizers work great.
But I sailed long before the floating hotels on a tramp steamer - still never ill.
Not to say others won't become ill, bit they could feel the same in a car - just saying!

Jim Casey

Sorry, I didn't know that there were intercontinental passenger cruises. Nobody I know has taken one.

Still, if you need to be in Paris or Frankfurt tomorrow, it's going to be on a plane.

- Jim

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