If the sudden absence of towel animals, 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 we 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.
1. 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, and learn how to enhance your mobile gallery with these five free photo-editing apps.
There are also a handful of web and mobile apps, like Shutterfly or Flickr, that make it easy to preserve your cruise experience.
Side Effects: Narcolepsy, if too many photos coupled with tedious narration are shown to friends
2. Prescription: Write a Review
As with photos, reframing the at-sea narrative 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. Don't forget to include photos from your vacation in your review to fully relive the experience.
Side Effects: Narcissism sparked from the respect and adulation you receive from thousands of Cruise Critic readers in search of the right ship
3. 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, re-create 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 or excessive weight gain
4. Prescription: Re-create Your Favorite Cruise Cocktails at Home
For many passengers, that first slurp of sail-away daiquiri marks the official start to a cruise. If you drink to remember, there might be nothing easier than re-creating your favorite cruise cocktail at home. Put those cocktail shakers to work, with recipes for some of our favorite Carnival cruise drinks -- or watch master mixologist and Holland America partner, Dale DeGroff, demonstrate how to make one of the line's most popular concoctions.
Side Effects: The cruise hangover can be replaced with an actual hangover; do not operate heavy machinery after blending these cruise cocktails at home
5. 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 a deposit on your next cruise while onboard. Many lines offer attractive perks -- discounts, reduced deposits, onboard credit -- for doing so. Learn more about the perks of purchasing a cruise onboard, as well as other ways to snag "free money" when you book, in our guide on how to get onboard credit.
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
6. Prescription: Join a Roll Call
Until sandals touch lido deck, talking about a cruise is what makes it real. For those who are able to fulfill the previous step, 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
7. 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. Cruise Critic editors also regularly report live from cruise ships, posting photo albums and videos to
(see more on our
Need a stronger dose? Many of our ship reviews include extensive photo albums that show you just about every nook and cranny onboard. Take a virtual tour of the world's largest cruise ship, for a quick fix.
Side Effects: Too much cruise voyeurism can lead to a permanent break from reality and, potentially, loss of family, job or Hawaiian shirt
8. 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 might find a bathrobe, luggage tag or chocolate melting cake mix gift wrapped with your name on it.
Side Effects: Offending friends by demanding a commission
9. 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 look out for a towel animal-folding class on your next cruise, so you can learn how to re-create your favorite fluffy critters at home.
Side Effects: Callouses, towel shortages, wet floors, grins that last more than four hours, loss of human friends
10. 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. For a more tongue-in-cheek approach, follow these 23 steps to creating a cruise in your own home.
Side Effects: Home resale value reduction