I spent last week on a floating buffet. I had never been on a cruise before, and I was pleasantly surprised. The service was amazing, though I’m not sure having someone make the beds twice a day isn’t overkill. The food, in general, was quite good. Even the buffet had great fare, though at the buffet one had to be selective because there’s a lot of crappy food there too.
While I enjoyed the cruise, the ex-GF and I agreed it isn’t really our thing. We’re more the type to walk around and explore a city, using a hotel as a home base to store stuff. Having your hotel move to different locations is very nice, but you don’t tend to stay in the same place for very long.
A few observations/random thoughts:
1. Even if the crew did not have uniforms on, it was fairly easy to differentiate them from the passengers. My guess is that the average crewmember weighs about a forty percent of what the average passenger weighs, even leaving out the retirees on the ship.
2. Each crewmember had a tag with his/her name and country of origin.
3. No more than a handful of the crew (of thousands) come from the U.S.
4. From what I could tell, almost all of the cleaning staff was from southeast Asia. I can only think of one exception.
5. The wait-staff was mostly divided among southeast Asians and eastern Europeans. The latter tended to be younger (early to mid-twenties) and less professional. (A number of the southeast Asians told us they had degrees in hotel management and the like.) However, the maitre d’s and hostesses and the like tended to be eastern Europeans. The blonder the hair, the more front and center the station.
6. I don’t think I ran into any African staff. That isn’t to say there wasn’t staff of African ancestry – just not from countries on the African continent.
7. If one doesn’t drink and doesn’t feel a need to buy jewelry in the duty free shops, a cruise is actually less expensive than other forms of vacation.
8. The ex-GF played at least a couple of hours of poker every day – they didn’t have a dealer, but did have a table that dealt electronic cards automatically. The ex-GF came out barely ahead, but we ran some numbers and based on the house rake, the boat was taking in about a grand a day. Not too shabby.
9. The boat passed pretty close to Cuba. Remind me again – why does the U.S. government restrict its citizens from visiting the island? And do the folks who are the biggest promoters of that policy get to visit the place themselves, perhaps being exempt from the ban due to family reasons? What little faith the average Cuban might have in the regime would disappear if they could see the amount of waste these floating buffets can afford to generate on a daily basis.