Will The Great Recession dissolve our system of symbols and affluence and remake America into a classless society? Nah, not only would that be boring, but it’s impossible. A river with less water is still a river. Speaking of conspicuous consumption and water, here’s what Paul Fussel, snarky author of Class: A Guide Through the American Status System, says about cruise ships:
There were lots of problems on the recent Costa Cruise vacation that Krista and her friends took, including lukewarm hot tubs, closed buffets, and missing towels. But the biggest surprise was when their waiter was replaced on the second day with a newly promoted, untrained busboy who abandoned them nightly. Well, when he wasn’t taking their sugar or stealing their basket of bread.
Royal Caribbean is gutting the Crown & Anchor society that lavishes loyal cruisers with perks like discounts, priority boarding, and a concierge lounge stocked with complimentary cocktails. The free booze will now be available only to cruisers who have sailed more than 25 times with Royal Caribbean. Many loyal passengers who don’t spend their lives on Royal Caribbean ships are understandably pissed.
Royal Caribbean’s odd “steak fee” proved to be such a success that the bleed-’em-dry cruise line has decided to add yet another extraneous charge to their “all-inclusive” service: a late night room service fee! Gone are the days of waking up from a seasick-induced nightmare at 3 a.m. to the comforting thought of, “well at least I can order a cheeseburger.” Now, seasickness cures ordered between midnight and 5 a.m. cost $3.95.
Hank went on a cruise with his family to celebrate his grandmother’s 75th birthday. Because of a change in his work schedule, Hank had to leave early to return home to California. But when you’re a guest of Celebrity Cruises, YOU ARE A GUEST OF CELEBRITY CRUISES. There is no “return home” for you! Be quiet! Eat waffles!
When storms force your cruise to skip ports of call, don’t sit idly in your cabin watching the whitecaps break menacingly against the ship. Go find your fellow passengers and stage a mutiny! At least that is what passengers onboard the Sapphire Princess did when two typhoons kept the ship from planned port calls in Vietnam, Japan, and Taiwan.
At one point, with passengers assembled in the ship’s theater, she said, “the attorney jumped up and grabbed the microphone away from the assistant cruise director and said: ‘We’re taking over the stage! We have a petition!’”
Here’s a fun scam: buying art at auction on cruise ships. In one case, a woman paid $20,000 for what she thought were high-value Salvadore Dali, but when they got shipped to her, an independent appraiser told her they were worth maybe $700 each. The business is conducted on international waters, so there’s no consumer protection laws to throw you a lifesaver. Consumerama says they’re not even run under real auction rules, but are instead, “coordinated inebriated sales hysteria.”
There’s hope for humanity yet: the 78-year old pensioner who saved 10 years for a cruise, only to have Princess Cruises screw her out of her money after missed connections resulted in a missed embarkation? She will get to take that cruise. After her story hit the papers and the blogosphere, strangers stepped forward to fund her cruise ship dreams. This time, Almentia McKan will arrive a day in advance, fly non-stop, and purchase travel insurance. She probably won’t be sailing Princess Cruises either.
A 78-year old pensioner saved for a cruise for 10 years, but after she missed an airplane connection, she missed the cruise ship and Princess Cruises gets to keep her $2500 paid for the cruise. They’re also keeping the $559.80 the airlines refunded because she didn’t take the flight. (See how that works? You don’t get charged unless you actually use their service…) You gotta read the Washington Post column for the full run-down of all the different things that went wrong on this lil old lady’s trip.
If you find you’re on a cruise to, say, the Caribbean, and you decide to buy something expensive—like, say, an emerald ring—then be sure to pay with a credit card, take photos of the item and the person who sold it to you, and get a receipt. It may sound like overkill, but if the “emeralds” in the ring fall out and it turns your finger black once you’re back on the boat and have left Antigua, chances are it’s not a cursed pirate ring but a fake, and you’ll be glad you have some documentation when you start trying to make things right.
From The Portland Mercury:
A few months ago, a couple of friends and I took a 7-night cruise on Royal Caribbean. It ended up being a horrible cruise (in our opinion and many other cruisers). Since then, I have attempted to write to the CEO of Royal Caribbean (RCCL), a couple of higher up SVP’s, and finally the Better Business Bureau. To make a long story short… they only gave us $20 credit/person, which was to cover the lunch we had to buy since the ship was severely delayed. I don’t even consider that any type of compensation, since we would have received lunch on the ship had we boarded on time (and not had to buy lunch on land for the $20). RCCL made no other attempt at any compensation at all, even though I shelled out nearly $3000 for the cruise-fare alone. My (somewhat long) email to the executive staff @ RCCL…
I and my family recently took a cruise with Holland America Lines to Alaska on the ms Statendam. Two days into the cruise my brother’s stateroom was affected by an overflowing toilet one room down. The ship’s response? Put big fans in the room and not acknowledge it or apologize in any other way.