The Costa Concordia, Carnival, and why I will always hate cruises
Posted by E on January 19, 2012
Two days ago I came back from my first-ever – and only – cruise on a Carnival cruiseship, a sister ship in fact to the now-infamous Costa Concordia. Looking at news photos of the staterooms and general surroundings of the now belly-up cruise liner, I was uncomfortably reminded of the identical view on my own trip — obviously Carnival contracts out their architectural plans and ship furnishings to the same gaudy, Las Vegas-wannabe people.
And let me tell you — in terms of unique experiences, few can beat that of being adrift in the open ocean and hearing your captain come on the airways with the sad news that a sister ship has sunk and we should have a moment of silence. I’d already turned on CNN from our stateroom and observed the horrific images we all have seen by now — of a maritime disaster that was caused by the indefensable actions of a small number of people who brought the ship close to land (and strayed from the course of navigation by more than 5 miles) because they frivolously wanted to wave to family members residing on a small lagoon island.
But I’m not surprised to hear survivors tell of the utter chaos, and the every-man-for-himself mentality that broke out near the lifeboats. Anybody who’s ever been on a cruiseship this large, as I unfortunately had the experience of embarking, knows that the other half of the whole eat-and-drink-till-you-puke-funship-experience is being herded like cattle onto lines….and more lines.
When you debark on a shore excursion. When you return on board. When you wait for tenders. When you wait to embark and disembark again. All you see are elbows and assholes cutting ahead in line. Assholes who cough and sneeze all over the place without consideration of infecting their fellow passengers with all sorts of nasty viruses. In fact, the thing I have come to deduct from this one and ONLY cruise experience I will ever have, is that cruise ships are made up of huge lines crammed with inconsiderate people, and form one huge cesspool of bacterial infection. In more than ten years of travelling all over the world, I’ve never become this sick on vacation. Until now.
If you don’t know it already, cruise lines create those charming little villages that form their ports and the fake beaches that line neatly a hundred meters from where the ship is docked, and work out deals with the corporations who own the luxury goods lines that saturate the shops which dot every single bloody corner of their fake “islands” – stores like Diamond International, or Effy, or a shitload of other tanzanite and crappy interchangeable ugly jewelry lines that do their darndest – even by hounding you on ship by slipping envelopes through your stateroom door inviting you to “special buying opportunities” – to part you from your money.
Everything is always about the bottom line — Carnival’s policy, as I heard it on board, is to never sail until the ship is full. 3500 guests plus another, I don’t know, 1500 staff? It’s a disaster waiting to happen. Yeah, of course the likelyhood of Titanic-proportion disasters is exceedingly low, and lower than even air crash disaspers, but when it happens, you can count on the fact that it WILL be every man and woman for themselves. Without exceptions. And you’d better be prepared to fight – and have luck on your side.
I cannot imagine what would have happened on our own ship if something were to go wrong. Among the sweaty fratboys, bikini-clad drunken bimbos, the austere-looking Germans towering over everyone else with their ethnically-cleansed Aryan genes, the cranky geriatric patients who feel entitled to push ahead solely on account of their advanced age, and yeah, even the white trash bitch who almost ran me over with her wheelchair who felt similarly entitled to cut ahead of a one-hour-long line, who would survive? Certainly not civility, and certainly not the humanity in people.