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Aaron N. Tubbs

Dragon chaser.

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So, having briefly recapped the cruise vacation, I figured I’d talk about cruising.

To this point, most of our trips have been to places via plane, and then we’ve driven around, or stayed in place. For years now we’ve been talking about trying a cruise, and we ended up doing the Alaska inside passage/Glacier Bay cruise on Norwegian Cruise Line.

Since it’s my first cruise, I have no sense for how cruises are usually, or how this compares.

The first part of cruising is the painful part of getting on the boat, which I already covered. Once we were on the boat, we wandered aimlessly, found our life jackets, and then got to our designated location for the safety drill:

I’m glad to have the safety drills, though I question their efficacy, since they only teach people where to gather, not how to rescue themselves. At least one planes you’re given instructions for self-rescue. There was a loud and drunk southerner at the thing yelling and saying inane things like “I’m sweating more than Alec Baldwin on take your daughter to work day! Yee-Haw!” He kept blowing his safety whistle too, which was also obnoxious. Turns out this was just the first indication of our illustrious companions.

I don’t think they should probably let people drink before the safety drills, at least out of courtesy for the passengers that don’t plan to spend the next week in a drunken haze.

So yeah, boat full of drunks, 24/7.

Saw lots of nature from the boat, though it was quite far away. That’s good, though, if I were nature I’d probably want to avoid a huge cruise ship full of philistines were I an animal.

Housekeeping was inconsistent and irregular. We only got a full turn-down once, despite leaving the cabin with the turn-down notice for hours at a time. On the upside, when we did get a turn-down, they made this thing:

So, the first real thing I have to bitch about is that cruising is not cheap. I think it’s marketed deceptively as this amazingly all-inclusive experience. You pay $X per person, and you’re all set. Gratuities are all included (except for exceptional service, for which tipping is suggested).

My ass.

What was included was our room, the buffet, a couple of other free (but reservation needed) restaurants, water, coffe, tea, and some watered-down piss juices.

You pay for soda, alcohol, special restaurants, shore excursions, any photos that are taken of you ($25 a pop for an 8×10). Anything sold on-ship is amusement park prices, doubled. A crappy 1GB compact flash card is $100 (that’ll get you 8GB on Amazon, a 1GB for $20). The exact variety on the ship (DANE-ELEC) can be found for $45 on Amazon. Everywhere you go there’s somebody selling hot cocoa, alcoholic drinks, or something else. They hide their little expense pads, making you think that maybe this is the one rare complimentary drink. But, no, that refreshing drink will be $9 plus autogratuity.

All of the food was horrid in everything we tried. I tried to try one of the 24×7 spots once, and couldn’t get the attention of anybody that worked there. Silly.

At a “fine dining” restaurant I selected the cheese plate for dessert after a lackluster meal. It was cheese cold cuts from lunch earlier. When the waiter came by later and noticed I wasn’t enjoying my slices of cheese from the sandwich bar, he asked if I’d like any milk or mustard to make it go better.

Yeah.

We tried a specialty restaurant with a cover charge, a sushi place. The sushi was lower quality than a supermarket. It was absurdly bad.

Soda was $1.75. Plus automatic gratuity of 15%. Whether it’s the bar or the mini bar. Automatic gratuities when you purchase wine in a restaurant.

All gratuities included my ass.

Everywhere we went, it was blatant commercialism. Lectures were all about gem buying and how to spend money in ports of call. We were pitched to go to the casino, attend a here’s-how-to-spend-money lecture, or play bingo.

A good chance at bingo cost $85. Gave up on that before we started.

It was hard at times to relax; it’s like the boat and cruise directors are trying to tell you you should be doing something at all times (read: spend money).

We tried a formal dress up (this was optional); that was fun. I think maybe having a cruise with required formal dress would have been better, as it might have eliminated some of the really stupid people.

So let’s talk about that a bit. I don’t know how better to explain it, it was a ship full of idiots. The boat was full of people that would say brilliant things like “Why is the boat full of Filipinos?” when we attended the (otherwise excellent) captain/engineer presentation on how the boat worked. The cafeteria was full of moronic behavior. Getting in and off the boat at ports was moronic. People with us on shore excursions were irritating and obnoxious.

Maybe I’m just getting more intolerant.

Well, I know I’m getting more intolerant.

But I still feel like we never run into this sort of mass ignorance and obnoxious behavior when we go to, say, Cayman. Or Belize. Or Provo. Or Paris. Maybe it’s the initial cost of entry. A cruise looks deceptively cheap, and it’s “easier” because you don’t have to do any work to arrange it. But, honestly, I don’t think it’s any harder.

At the end of the day, I don’t think I’m a cruise person. I don’t think that it’s that much cheaper, and unless you really like stuff on the boat, there’s a lot of time that you could be enjoying yourself doing something interesting. I’d rather read on a porch or beach watching the ocean than read on a tiny balcony, anyhow. I’m glad to have seen Alaska and Glacier Bay, but I think one can do better than this for the money.

That said, I think if one went with a large group of people that could share in more of the stuff on-board, and hang out and do other stuff, maybe it would be a lot more interesting.