|10 Ways to Beat Post-Cruise Depression|
If the sudden absence of pillow chocolates, umbrella drinks and endless horizons leaves you hollow, you might have Post-Cruise Funk (PCF), an affliction that's affected nearly 100 percent of cruisers, according to a well-cited study I just invented.
But know this: The situation can be remedied.
We've compiled 10 tips and strategies, many sourced from Cruise Critic members in recovery, to get you through the painful sea-to-land reacclimation period. Enjoy a dose of the collected advice, and be sure to add to the group therapy session in the comments.
Prescription: The Photo Detox
If a picture is worth 1,000 words, a few of those words must be therapeutic. "I found if I take lots of fun photos while on the cruise, I can stave off some of the depression by reviewing and organizing them into a book," writes member Tudy. She and her husband periodically host "cruise evenings," during which they peruse photos, share stories and laugh. Check out our tips for taking better onboard photos.
There is no shortage of Web and mobile apps, like Shutterfly or Cruise Critic sister site TripAdvisor's TripWow, to preserve a cruise experience.
Side Effects: Narcolepsy, if too many photos coupled with tedious narration are shown to friends
Prescription: Write a Review
As with photos, reframing the at-sea narrative -- remember that woman with the Royal Caribbean tattoo? -- can be like reliving the experience. When you reminisce by way of review, you're doing thousands of readers a service through your insights, tips and tricks. Heal yourself by writing a cruise review.
Side Effects: Narcissism sparked from the respect and adulation you receive from thousands of Cruise Critic readers in search of the right ship
Prescription: Focus on Diet
If you're pining over the loss of cruise food -- the availability, the variety, the fanfare -- there are antidotes. Drool over epicurean content in Cruise Critic's cruise food section , recreate at-sea meals with readers' favorite recipes, or chew on some useful member advice in the Cruise Foodies forum. For example, member MissMap keeps all the nighttime pillow chocolates from her cruise and deposits them in a desk drawer at work: "So if I'm having a stressful day at work," she writes, "I savor one and take a moment to remember the latest great cruise vacation." Or borrow cruising's culinary nomenclature, like member Econom405, who admits to referring to the first post-cruise family dinner she cooks as the "chef's regional specialty."
Side Effects: Minor weight gain, modest weight gain, excessive weight gain or this
Prescription: Get the Cruise Cocktail Recipe Booklet
For many passengers, that first slurp of sailaway daiquiri marks the official start to a cruise. If you drink to remember, there might be nothing easier than recreating your favorite cruise cocktail at home.
Side Effects: The cruise hangover can be replaced with an actual hangover. Do not operate heavy machinery after using the cruise cocktail recipe booklet.
Prescription: Always Be Booked
Chronic PCF sufferers argue there is but one cure to the vicious cycle: the pre-emptive booking. The recommended approach is to plop down on your next cruise while onboard. Many lines offer attractive perks -- discounts, reduced deposits, onboard credit -- for doing so. The fine print is key here. If you're serious about this treatment, peruse our in-depth piece on booking onboard.
Don't think you have the cash? Member Gek offers her tactic on the Cruise Critic forums: "Find a cruise at least 12 months away that looks really good. Forget about cost or circumstances -- just book it. Research it, plan it, and up until the day when cancellation penalties kick in, assume the cost or your circumstances will change. If they do not, just cancel and repeat the process. The deposit also becomes a ready source of cash that you can access any time you want. Consider the fun of planning a cruise as the return on your investment."
Side Effects: Debt, land-sea dysmorphia
Prescription: Join a Roll Call
Until sandals touch lido deck, talking about a cruise is what makes it real. Shameless ship's horn tooting aside, there is no better place to chat with fellow passengers about upcoming itineraries than a Cruise Critic Roll Call. You can swap tips, set up pre-cruise or onboard events or book a group tour if you think your virtual relationships can make the transition to the real world. Meet your fellow passengers here.
Side Effects: Blood pressure spike if pre-cruise conversation veers into the political, religious or cultural
Prescription: Vicarious Immersion Therapy
No looming embarkation to boost morale? There are thousands of Cruise Critic members enduring the same pain. Their recourse: the virtual cruise experience. Check out the "live from..." logs endlessly spawned on the Cruise Critic message boards. Here's but oneprime example, which has been read by thousands of PCF sufferers. Cruise Critic editors also regularly report from wherever cruise ships travel, posting photo-heavy vignettes on the Lido Deck Blog and hosting weekly live chats.
Side Effects: Too much cruise voyeurism can lead to a permanent break from reality and, potentially, loss of family, job or Hawaiian shirt.
Prescription: Become an (Unpaid) Travel Agent
Take enough cruises, and you'll start to discover the secrets the cruise lines don't tell you. Use your developing expertise to help a friend or family member plan his next cruise. While helping new cruisers is rewarding in and of itself, you just might find a bathrobe, luggage tag and chocolate melting cake mix gift wrapped with your name on it.
Side Effects: Offending friends by demanding a commission
Prescription: Towels as Tonic
There's no denying it: Most cruisers prefer the company of towel animals to their significant others. Ogle this menagerie of towel creatures, or get your hands linty by learning the time-honored craft.
Side Effects: Callouses, towel shortages, wet floors, grins that last more than four hours, no friends anymore
Prescription: Turn Your Home Into a Cruise Ship
The next best thing to being there: Install a porthole in your bedroom, and paint the glass with a seascape, like reader Richard S. Alternatively, Member Dodget1964 brings home the breakfast room service menus and hangs them on the bedroom door. "I keep thinking the room service attendant will show up," she writes. Better still, pass on your love of cruising to your child by filling his nursery with cruise ship accouterments.
For a more tongue-in-cheek approach, see our incisive report oncruising from home in 10 easy steps.
Side Effects: Home resale value reduction