The Cruel War
by Linda Coffman
15, 2001 -- Before
I get to my current point, let me relate where I'm coming from. Many
of you are Baby Boomers. I am as well. We grew up with drills in
school to prepare us for nuclear attack. Those drills now seem
woefully inadequate and even comical. We huddled beneath our desks
and, with arms folded over our heads, we pressed our noses to the
floor as we awaited the all-clear signal.
September 11th began as normally as any other
Not only did I live with that, but on
the day President Kennedy was killed, my mother, brothers, and I said
goodbye to my father, not knowing if or when he would return. You
see, we lived in Germany and he was an employee of a government
contractor--one that designed, built, and maintained guided missiles
for NATO. We didn't hear from him for three days... days he spent on
"hill 479" overseeing missiles that were trained on our Cold
All of Europe was
"on alert." I never thought I'd live to see the day when
Americans would find themselves in that condition on US soil.
of us who remember the day Kennedy died can usually recite in detail
where we were, what we were doing, and how we felt. Tuesday, September
11th began as normally as any other. Just like that fateful day when a
young president was felled by a madman, it's a day we won't soon
My Tuesday morning
began with reading email, checking press wire stories, and browsing a
few of my favorite web sites. Before settling down to answering
personal email and composing business letters, I like to read what's
on other people's minds. What a surprise to open Cruise@ddicts
and see a note about Atlanta's Hartsfield Airport being closed. That's
MY airport. I quickly flipped on the television and tuned to CNN.
Instead of Atlanta, I was shocked to see the skyline of New York City
and smoke billowing from the upper floors of one of the World Trade
Center's towers. Incredibly, an airplane suddenly slammed into the
other tower. What the hell was going on?
my work seemed, concentrating on vacation travel when lives were
crumbling amid concrete and steel
It took more than a few cups of
coffee before I fully comprehended what was unfolding on the screen
By the time the towers collapsed, I was numb. I couldn't go about my
day. My work seemed trivial. How could I concentrate on vacation
travel when lives were crumbling amid concrete and steel?
lives are changed. Forever. Not just this week or the next. In the
aftermath of terror, air travel will never be the same and that may be
a change in the right direction. Security has been lax for far too
long. We'll grow used to longer lines to check in, stringent security
checks, and Sky Marshals protecting the cockpits. Leave your
Leatherman Tools and Swiss Army knives at home or pack them in your
take a while before the nation's airlines are up to speed. Even then,
some airlines may not survive the economic impact. Midway Airlines is
already gone, along with about 1,700 jobs.
everyone interested in maritime history knows, it was non-stop
transatlantic airliners that dealt a final blow to Atlantic ocean
liner service. However, those same airplanes made it possible for
Miami to become the world's largest cruise port--air travel made
cruises accessible to thousands of passengers.
small steps, one cruise line after another has issued
statements... In hindsight, these seem to be naive and
Immediately following this week's
terrorist attacks, many booked cruise passengers are confused and
angry at what they perceive as a lack of information and compassion on
the part of cruise lines. Just as one airline has already succumbed to
the tragedy, cruise lines are also susceptible to financial ruin.
Taking small steps, one cruise line after another has issued
statements. Initially, they related tightened security procedures and
unchanged sailing schedules. In hindsight, these seem to be naive and
short-sighted. But then, who could have predicted the full impact of
cruise line announcements have been more realistic. Alternate ports
are being used in the northeast until the Port of New York is reopened
to passenger vessels. With air travel in continued disarray, cruise
lines recognize that their passengers simply can't get to their
embarkation ports. Most are offering credit vouchers to cruise
passengers whose flight plans were unavoidably interrupted. Sensitive
to the needs and concerns of their guests, some cruise lines are also
temporarily altering their usual cancellation policies. That's not to
say that they will issue a complete cash refund to passengers who just
don't feel like traveling.
passengers who had the foresight to purchase travel insurance may, or
may not, be covered. One popular insurance company's policy regarding
Trip Cancellation and Interruption Protection reads that benefits are
provided in the event of "a terrorist incident in a foreign city if you
are scheduled to arrive in that city within 10 days following that
incident." However, it also states: "Losses resulting due to
the issuance of travel advisories, bulletins, or alerts; war or acts
thereof; civil disorder, riot or unrest; bomb scares or threats of
terrorist activity; or terrorist acts against any common carrier (e.g.
airline or cruise line) are not covered."
highly-regarded insurer covers policyholders in the case of
"Terrorism in a country which is part of your covered
trip..." but doesn't address the conditions we are currently
the end, I believe they will all do the right thing
Should you try to cancel your cruise
plans? It's entirely up to you; however, if
you can get to your embarkation port, my suggestion is to go. Get away
and try to take solace in the endless serenity of the sea. My plans
are to sail on two cruises in upcoming months and I have no intention
of canceling them. Incidentally, my insurance would not cover me if I
tried to cancel at this point either.
booked passengers feel that cruise lines are "screwing" them
by not allowing them to cancel with full refunds for sailings
that fall within the normal penalty period. With the confusion and
uncertainly we are facing, I urge everyone to give cruise lines the
opportunity to sort out the situation.
In the end, I believe they will
all do the right thing.
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