Guess what? Chris Elliott wrote an article that didn’t totally hack me the heck off. Yesterday’s piece entitled “Maybe It’s Time to Lower Your Expectations at High Sea“ struck a nerve…but not an angry one…well, not much of an angry one. I consider myself an experienced cruiser. I’m not the most experienced, I’m just experienced (30 cruises), have some confidence in the lines I choose to frequent, and enjoy being at sea. All the other mostly self-inflicted drama that some unfortunate souls seem to complain to folks like Mr. Elliott about….well…. I’ll leave that to others.
To be honest, I have booked a few cruises during hurricane season, mostly towards the end of the season. The results, so far, have been positive. The worst thing that has happened to me is an extra day at sea, and a trip to Nassau instead of Cozumel. Then there was the time I had to skip Grand Cayman and head to Cozumel so I guess I’m even….or maybe just lucky. I’m not unsympathetic to those who have been disappointed closed pools, rocking ships, and cancelled ports due to storms, I’ve been disappointed by the same. I just never inflicted my disappointment on others, and I’ve never let one-off things like this detract from my ultimate cruising goal…..getting away in a manner that really isn’t possible by spending a week at the local Motel 6 pool.
Now…a few nits to pick. Let me be clear. I am a licensed pilot (as in airplanes), not a licensed mariner. I am informed when it comes to transportation modes, including sea transport. I’ve always been entertained by the assumption that because a ship is not flagged in the USA, said ship must be operated with “zero standards.” Maybe, maybe not. I am pretty darn confident that the cruise lines aren’t out to hurt me. As for paying their “third-world” crew substandard wages….. well, you’ve got me there, but my strong suspicion is that the definition of substandard depends on where you are from and the cost of goods there. I don’t judge, and I don’t hide on the last night of the cruise to avoid tipping either. And then those pesky “gotcha fees and extras” that everyone loves to talk about. It’s only a “gotcha” if you thought you were getting something for free (or more correctly, included in your fare), and didn’t hand over your onboard charge card to pay for it. It is possible to take a cruise and not spend one red cent above the fare, taxes, and gratuities. Really, it is, even if I don’t recommend it! I’ll also let the marketplace determine whether or not the current business model for cruise lines is sustainable. Most importantly, I will continue to cruise with the same expectations I’ve always had – a good time, a good value, and a level of peace I only find at sea. YMMV.