Friday, July 17, 2009

It Will Be A "Miracle" If I Finish This Cruise Without...

1. … obesity problem.

I discussed this in an earlier blog. The target for the US cruise ship operators are the 40 – 60 year olds who wish to do nothing but eat all day. The day for a cruise ship holiday maker kicks off with a cooked breakfast made up on fried toast, eggs, bacon, pancakes and hash browns. This is of course all dependent on whether they were up til all hours of the morning eating at the 24 hour pizza bar. The next event of the day is lunch, where you have a choice of American, Mediterranean, Mexican, Chinese or Japanese meals. The meal of choice though seems to be the age-old favourite of hot dogs and fries. Lunch doesn’t just start and end with that, of course. Lunch always is finished off with dessert and people have the choice of puddings, jelly, custard, cakes and tarts. You also have an unlimited supply of soft serve ice cream, which you can go back to throughout the afternoon, just in case you are a little hungry between meals. Dinner is a feast, of course, and it involves three courses. That said, the dining staff do not hesitate to hand over extra entrees or desserts when a diner requests them. Another stop off at the 24 hour pizza bar and its fun for all the family!

2. …..a Tacky Staged Family Photo

Every night you have the opportunity to dress yourself up in formal attire, or themed costumes, so that you can take away a very memorable family photo to remember your time on the cruise. This may sound a little corny, but people queue up for the opportunity to gave lovingly into each other’s eyes with a rose in each hand. I spent ten minutes listening to one older lady who was filing a complaint against the photographer, who had failed to photo-shop her husband’s mole that sat on his nose. It seems that these photos are not only staged, but corrected “behind the scenes” to ensure that it becomes a true and accurate memory of your time on board!

3. …..a Discount Which Really Isn’t A Discount!

Cruise ship operators love to give their travelling folk a good bargain! My favourite was the “Embarking Special” for the internet, which gave you 30 extra minutes on the internet free if you sign up for the $100-for-250-minutes deal. Five days into the cruise and the “Embarking Special Offer” is still going strong. Another one of my favourite deals is the “Teeth Whitening Special”, where you can pay $199 for one person and a limited “very special couples price” of $398….! The fact of the matter is that everything on the cruise ship is expensive (except food – which is free) and there is money to be spent at every corner.

4. ……a Raging Gambling Addiction.

The casino runs 24 hours a day, or at least it seems as though it does. You use your “Sign and Sale Card” to play the poker machines – in other words, you sign now, pay later. Many happy sailing customers will have to walk off this boat and pay for all of the gambling that they have enjoyed…and haven’t kept track of.

5. ……an Attitude towards Cruise Ship Staff.

The one thing I love about this boat is that I am surrounded by “my people”. Most staff are from Indonesia, the Philippines or Thailand. As you all know, I have fallen in love with the South East Asian way of life now that I live in Singapore. People from Indonesia, the Philippines and Thailand have captured my heart and I have begun to learn (and see with my very own eyes) the struggles that they endure in their own home countries. Just today there is news of more bombings in Jakarta. The most negative part of this holiday is this and I have been very surprised at how sensitive I have been about the issue. I have been disturbed by the way passengers on this boat have treated these wonderful, very hard working people. I have listened to the way the passengers speak to them – they demand assistance from them and then disregard them. They leave rubbish, food, plates, anything assuming that it is okay, because it will all be cleared away by the cruise staff. I have been incredibly uncomfortable with being served by South East Asians in this environment. I do not like being waited on by them. In South East Asia, we are all at home, working our own jobs as equals, doing what we need to in order to get by. Here, I feel as though these people are being treated as lower class citizens and I do not like it. These are “my” people. These people are my friends and many in Singapore have become like my family. It angers me. It is wrong. It is something I will always have trouble coming to terms. This is who I am and I do not apologise for it. I have spent extra time speaking with individual staff members, asking them questions about their home, making sure I say “thank you” in their respective languages. It may not be much, but I am sure it means something to them when all they receive from others are orders and commands.

Yes, this has been somewhat of a negative post about this cruise, but I wanted people to know that cruises are not all about crystal clear waters, sun tanning and golden beaches. I am glad that I have experienced it because it has opened my eyes up just that little bit more. After all, this is the reason why I travel. It is not to be waited on at my beck and call, to laze around the sun and eat until I am sick. Rather, it is about seeing the world without rose tinted glasses, understanding that things are not always as perfect as the brochure seems and then, in my own little way, piece by piece, trying to make a difference.



  1. Hey Kate, Now you understand why I have always loved Asia and the people. I like to see that what you were taught as a child (to be nice and polite) has made you the beautiful person you are. Enjoy every moment.

  2. I suspect you will be pretty happy to get back to Singapore my Love. Its all experience for you. Its just too bad it has to be like this with the crew, but people forget that we are all equals regardless of where we come from. Its called IGNORANCE.

  3. As a cruise staff, this is mostly some of the problems. As cruising and working at the same time is like being a vacation, you cant help but enjoy it while working. tons of pictures were made and lots of food were eaten