Friday, March 28, 2014

Would I cruise again?

It may be unfair to judge cruises by my experience of a non-cruise; but I think being in port on a giant floating hotel/waste factory gave me at least some idea of cruise life. So would I cruise again?

When Sarah and I debriefed about the good and the bad of the Navigator of the Seas/Royal Caribbean, the first thing that came up was the boat itself and the people who worked there, which were all positive. The employees were all helpful. (And I'd love to talk to them about their stories--it's like a floating French Foreign Legion there, with people from all over. So what brought them here?) The boat was fine: easy to get lost in windowless halls, but enough space in the facilities, like the restaurants. There was even enough space in the hot tub, even though the teens seemed to congregate there. Ugh, teens.

Then there's the food, which was fine and plentiful. Honestly, there wasn't anything so great that I'd cross the street for it; and considering the buffet style, I can see how cruises get their reputation for excess. (I did hit the pineapple pretty hard, but I do that on land, too.) The fancy formal dinner was fine for me, and very easy to choose the lactose-free option, though I'm not sure it's worth loading up my suitcase with suits.

The activity list was a little screwed up by the change of plans and cool weather in Galveston. For instance, I never got to try the rock climbing wall, so I can keep the fantasy that I'd be very good at it. Still, I was a little disappointed to find so many paid events and so many seminars clearly designed to get people to pay. Even with those, there may be enough events to keep one busy, and I brought a lot of my own stuff to do anyway. (Though this raises the question: if I'm interested in watching Orphan Black, do I need to be on the ocean to do so?)

And some of the activities and some of the guests... well, look, I understand that the cruise ship isn't going to invite a Marc Maron to come talk about dark shit or an Andy Kaufman to come challenge our expectations of stand-up. But our comedian R. T. Steckel was just so 80s, joking about how Asians can't drive and doing an extended musical mix about the evolution of love. Some of what he did was funny and interesting, but so much more of it was hacky--and the audience didn't seem to care. (I'm not even talking about being offended, I'm talking about being bored. These were the same jokes I used to hear as a kid staying up late to watch stand-up on Friday night.) I know that 30 Rock vastly lost ratings to The Big Bang Theory, but I don't need to be reminded of that so starkly on my vacation.

Which brings me to what may be the worst part of the cruise, which is the other people. Oh, sure, there's enough space; and yes, it was nice to chat with some people about their dogs; and yes, I even like seeing families having fun together. But on the other side, I don't need to hear senior citizens talking about how terrible Obamacare is; or how the wetbacks take so long at the bank since they're illegal immigrants and sending money home (real conversation); or about how America is changing.

So would I cruise again? Sure, though I'd prepare myself for all the lines and be sure to avoid talking about politics. Or, heck, maybe I'd go around arguing with people all the time. That sounds pretty fun, now that I think of it.

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