Irish Lad Niall Doherty gives us all a lesson in grit and determination!

Do you ever wonder about grit? You know, just plain dig-in-the-dirt, set-a-goal-and-don’t-give-up grit? One where you make up your mind what exactly you are going to do, and then do it?

Now, who wouldn’t give this handsome Irish Lad a ride?

Well, I do. I wonder about that sometimes and I wonder what lengths a person will go to go get to a goal, once they have set it.

Lately, I have had to wonder a bit less, because I’ve had a fantastic lesson in exactly that: grit.

Let me introduce you to world traveler Niall Doherty. Now, Niall is one of those young men that grew up in Ireland, and was raised fairly conventionally, as far as I can tell. And I think maybe he was comfortable in his life – too comfortable. So, he decided to shake things up a bit. Much to (I imagine) the chagrin of his loving parents, Niall set out to travel the world, like many young men, but instead of just going where his nose led, he set a goal. And what a goal!

Niall’s goal is to, very simply, travel around the world without setting foot in an airplane. He has the route more-or-less planned, but it’s not set in stone. What IS set in stone is the “without setting foot in an airplane” part.

Flying has become such an embedded part of most of our lives, it’s hard to think of doing any significant amount of travel without flying. But Niall has thought about it – in depth! And since he has set out on his journey, back in September 2011, he has had many wonderful – and challenging – experiences. For example, recently Niall found himself in Iran without access to an ATM machine, and very little money in his pocket. He was forced to find and depend upon total strangers for forty-eight hours, with only enough cash for food or a hostel, but not both. In Niall’s words:

I left the hectic bustle of the bazaar and found a quiet side street. With no choice but to once again put my fate in the hands of a stranger, I took a deep breath and dialed the number Behzad had given me. You can pick up the story here on his blog

More recently, Niall has had a particularly trying challenge: trying to get from India to Thailand. It seems to be impossible without flying. There’s the overland trek, which I think he was willing to do, but having to travel by foot through a high pass which is closed this time of year due to weather, plus various visa challenges, almost became his undoing. He also tried to get passage on container ships, even as a worker, but to no avail. Sailboat? Nope, not allowed. Really, how easy it would be to just buy a plane ticket and be done with it? Or, so most of the rest of the world thought. Nobody would have been mad at him. After all, he was really in a tight situation! He would be excused!

Niall didn’t think so, though, because the ONE person – himself – who could excuse him wasn’t handing out excuses that day. This is where the story gets **really**  interesting.

Niall’s ability to “think outside the box,” (what an old, tired, saying for such an innovative concept) conjoined beautifully with his Facebook followers’ interest in his success, his promise to award a gift to a lucky winner, and (particularly important) Costa Cruise Lines’ need to generate some positive PR after the terrible crash and sinking of its Costa Concordia cruise ship back in January.

Specifically, Niall made the following offer to his (several hundred) Facebook fans:

Help me get to Thailand and be in with a chance to WIN a $200 Amazon voucher. Takes two minutes! Scroll to the bottom of this post for details –>

And a flurry of Facebook postings did commence. After some 450 Facebook messages, Tweets and direct emails to Costa, Niall reports success! On November 11, he will now be traveling to Southeast Asia on the beautiful Costa neoRomantica, and as Niall posted on his facebook page: Looking forward to my trip to Thailand about Costa Cruises.

And Niall’s story will continue, without having set foot in an airplane.

Now, does anyone think, after all this drama, that Niall won’t accomplish his goal? I feel quite certain that – no matter the challenge, Niall is going to eventually return to his Irish home without having set foot in an airplane…and then who knows?  Maybe he’ll set another goal – maybe even this time to fly around the world without walking more than 100 yards in any one location…no one in their right mind would think that he couldn’t do it.

By the way, this is only one of the many challenges Niall has faced in achieving his goal.  I urge you to visit Niall’s blog to see his story so far.  It’s full of inspiration without being t least bit “preachy.”

Go, Niall!  We will be watching!



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Cruise Ship Dangers In the News

Recent cruise news seems to mostly hinge on cruise ship dangers.  Truth be told, cruising can be very dangerous, especially when passengers allow themselves to relax their normal care for their own safety.  That’s not to say that cruise passengers are necessarily at fault when they get hurt – or worse, but sometimes it doesn’t matter who is at fault. It’s best to take every reasonable precaution, even when on vacation, and if at all possible, stave off accidents, illnesses and serious injuries.

It is, after all, vacation!  Have fun, but have safe fun!

Here are some recent news stories that discuss cruise ship dangers and the cruise lines’ liability for passengers, both on the ship and when on a shore excursion.

Vacation Danger: Is Cruise Ship Liable for Perils on Shore Excursions? – ABC News

ABC NewsVacation Danger: Is Cruise Ship Liable for Perils on Shore Excursions?ABC News  Carnival Corporation was whether personnel on the Carnival cruise ship “Victory” owed a duty to advise passengers

Cruise Ship Companies Have a Legal Duty to Warn Passengers of Dangers at … – Legal Examiner

Cruise Ship Companies Have a Legal Duty to Warn Passengers of Dangers at …Legal Examiner  The maritime law imposes a duty on a cruise ship company to warn about dangers they know or should have known of. The cruise line company has previously been he …


Carnival Cruise Could be Found Liable in Shooting Death of Quinceañera … – Hispanically Speaking News

Hispanically Speaking NewsCarnival Cruise Could be Found Liable in Shooting Death of Quinceañera …Hispanically Speaking News… Florida dismissed the family’s liability suit but last week in appeal the 11th Circuit Court approved the case so that i …


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Terrorists on Cruise Ships?

I can already tell this is a blogpost I am not looking forward to writing. It’s been bouncing around in my brain ever since I read about the topic months ago on Jim Walker’s Cruise Law News blog. Mr. Walker is a Miami-based lawyer who specializes in suing the cruise lines on behalf of mistreated passengers, and his posts about terrorism, terrorists, and <sigh> terrorists on cruise ships fill me with concern.  Let me say first, though, that I wouldn’t even be writing this or referring to Mr. Walker if I didn’t find that his blog absolutely exudes credibility.  Sometimes, like in this case, I wish I could consider it “sensational,” and therefore, not worthy of note.  Alas, I can’t.terrorists on cruise ships

Already, the cruise lines are concerned that bad things can happen to passengers when they visit ports that are boiling with unrest. For example, stops in Egypt have been canceled by Royal Caribbean Celebrity, and Azamara. All three brands are owned by parent company Royal Caribbean. Princess Cruises will, however, continue stopping in Egypt unless something changes. Cunard’s Queen Elizabeth has canceled its Egyptian stops, as has Holland America, and Oceania is considering – but has not yet decided – to do the same.

Not counting the current unrest, it’s been known for some time (several months at least) that terrorists have been planning, or at least were planning, to board and hijack a cruise ship (particularly one with a high American passenger count), make demands of the U.S. Government to release terrorist prisoners, all the while dressing up American passengers in orange Guantanamo-style jumpsuits and executing them on a predetermined schedule, on videotape. The executions (certain to be visually unpleasant) will be broadcast shortly thereafter. The reports I have seen discuss these plans in the past tense, as though they were considered and discarded. Do you really believe that? Do terrorists typically become discouraged over a slight setback – or even a huge setback? No, I don’t think so.

One small bright note is the news that, at least for merchant ships, piracy attacks have dropped significantly.  reports that since June 26, there has been no pirate activity in the hotspots where this is most often found – the Gulf of Aden, the Gulf of Arabia, or the Somali basin. The reduction in attacks has been attributed to proactive helicopter gunship attacks, more visible use of arms aboard merchant ships, naval patrols by nearby countries, and, of course, the bad weather of monsoon season.

Despite this, as many as 191 crew from up to 14 merchant vessels and fishing boats are still being held.

One might wonder if the increased likelihood of an attack of terrorists on a cruise ship could also be attributed to the reduction in the ability of pirates to attack merchant ships. I don’t think so, because, while there may be some correlation between the two, Somali pirates (for example) that target freighters typically have a much different agenda than Jihadi terrorists looking for Americans to terrorize and kill. Somali pirates seem to want money, goods, or other assets, while Jihadi terrorists are focused on maximum pain, inconvenience and embarrassment to Americans, or indeed, anyone who does not share their goals.

These apparent terrorist plans could really ruin a vacation, couldn’t they? I can’t help but  wonder, though, is: why isn’t more being made of this? Are people really so focused on their fun times that they can’t bother to worry a bit – or at least concern themselves somewhat – about a situation like this developing on the cruise ship they are currently enjoying? I know it’s not a great idea to run around like Chicken Little yelling “the sky is falling,” but really, are the cruise lines serious about this? Have they taken – and are they continuing to take – reasonable precautions against allowing terrorists on cruise ships? I am not referring to canceling their plans to stop at ports with unrest. I am referring to making sure that terrorists have absolutely no way to gain entrance to a cruise ship, and in the worst case, if they do, that their mayhem can go no further than that.

I’ll have to admit that security seemed a bit tighter on my last cruise, just three weeks ago. My husband was questioned about his Leatherman tool, which he forgot and left in his carry-on (he had intended to leave it in our parked vehicle). He was admonished not to bring any sort of tool larger than that in the future, but was allowed to pass.

Online forums have a bit of chatter going on about this concern as well. Some have even opined that this situation would be too hard for a small group of terrorists to control, if they were wanting to follow through on their original plans (hijack, orange garb and execution). However, if explosives could be loaded onboard amongst all the luggage and supplies, that would be a more serious scenario.

Meanwhile, organizations that watch terrorists apparently have not changed their minds that this type of attack is certainly possible, if not immediately imminent. There are too many open spaces, too many easy ways for a terrorist to get aboard – and commandeer – a cruise ship, to be at ease about the situation just now. I do hope that the cruise lines really mean it when they say “your safety is our number one concern.” This is a good time to prove it!

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