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200th Entry: Cruising

Well, today is my 200th blog entry: Happy Anniversary to me! :)

Much of what I'm doing here is way of taking mental notes for myself... a way of remembering things that I find that I don't want to forget. It's also been a way to make note of the evolution of my thinking. The things I read, the things I see and the things I learn all shape who I become, how I behave and how I think. With that in mind I give you the subject of today's blog entry: Cruising.

I posted back in May about my phone call to Best Foods. I've been making a point to speak out against the things that bother me, and those few who've ever heard me rant about cruise ships know that I'm not a fan. Yes, I have been on a cruise ship. No, I wasn't paying to be there, I was being PAID to be there. Overall the experience wasn't terrible because of the lovely staff I met while I was there, but after seeing the crew quarters, I was rather appalled. "Jail Cell" comes to mind when I think about the room that I saw. Actually, "lurchingly nauseating, poorly ventilated, windowless, and badly lit" also come to mind. Two of our crew were being paid to work on the ship for a couple of shows (I was working for a rock band) so I got to see their quarters for the 5 days they were on the ship. They were being paid better than any of the regular crew so for them it was "tolerable", but ugh... the idea of PAYING to spend time in a jail cell is insane.

I don't see the appeal of the cruise ship: you're on this giant ship with not much to do other than eat and sit around in the sun. To some folks that might sound great, but the whole scene had me creeped out. You've got a bunch of underpaid folks, mostly under 25 from every country under the sun working for shit wages serving overprivileged, overfed, overweight, overly loud tourists with bad hair, bad skin, bad manners and bad attitudes (and their similarly shaped and mannered offspring). Sound fun yet? It gets better. They feed you about 6 giant all-you-can-eat meals a day, so you're constantly so full you just waddle around. I kept looking for the vomit buckets (like in that one Monty Python skit), but I couldn't spot them.

The crowd we played for was rather non-plussed (this was a corporate gig, and the crowds aren't usually "fans" per se, but this crowd was particularly unenthusiastic, no doubt due to the sickeningly large meal they had recently ingested). I wanted to scream at them "Get off your asses and dance/rock you fat f*cks!" but I wisely restrained myself. The band was more used to this kind of response during their corporate shows, but it continued to bother me the entire time I worked for them.

The highlight of the whole shipboard experience was in talking to the catering crew sent to service the backstage area. They were all from Turkey (a country I've never visited nor even met anyone from) and were convincing enough to make me pine for Turkish beach side towns I'd probably never see. They were friendly and funny and genuinely sincere guys: I don't know how they managed to keep from going insane in that job. They were all earning money and seeing the world (they little that they were able while working) and invited me to come visit them back in Turkey. No, not casual "Come to Turkey!" kind of comments, I mean names, phone numbers, names of relatives... real info. Somehow over the years I managed to lose that info and I regret that because I really would have liked to Turkey with a bro-deal.

So I suppose my own cruise line story has been a long winded intro to the ARTICLE that dredged all these memories up. Please read it and have anyone you know who's thinking about going on a cruise read it. The article brings up some safety issues that didn't even occur to me while I was on the ship. I'm not a single woman, but I would be a little concerned about going on cruise after reading the article. As well, the social and environmental impact that cruise ships have on the places they visit is largely unfelt by the tourists, but the denizens of the destinations must deal with the consequences.

The impact our vacation plans can have can be huge even though we might not see it. Perhaps consider a vacation closer to home? I know *I'm* not going on any cruises... at least not on a cruise ship.

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