I recently returned from a multi-generational family vacation on a huge cruise ship. It was an interesting experience on many levels. I'm not going to lie and say I hated it. How can you object to a week in a place where you don't have to cook, clean, or entertain kids set in the backdrop of the Western Carribean?
It's been a crazy year and I enjoyed the respite from my normal juggling routine.
However. . . and it's a big however. . . the playing out of the world's class structure on this floating city disturbed me. For over 3,000 passengers (the majority American), there were well over 1,000 employees on the ship. They were split into two groups: those who were seen--the entertainment, the waitstaff, the officers, and those who were essentially unseen--the housekeeping and janitorial staff. For the most part, the 'upstairs' staff were of the 'first world' and the 'downstairs' staff of the 'third world'.
I found it distressing that many of the staff were professionals in their home countries and could make more money as assistant waiters on a cruise ship. There is something terribly sad in the world when being subservient to obnoxious first world tourists is the most lucrative employement one can obtain.
The other thing that bothered me was the amount of waste and consumption aboard the boat. There was a vast amount of food available 24 hours a day and the behavior of some of my fellow guests was gluttenous to the extreme. The amount of food thrown away at each mealtime boggled the mind.