Friday, April 18, 2008

Cruise Staff

I feel bad for the staff members who work on cruise boats. For those of you who have traveled on a cruise before, you know the staff I'm talking about. I mean the men and women from a different country other than the US who work seven days a week, ungodly hours, and who put in tons of effort into each shift.

These crew members must think that we Americans are so greedy and indulgent. I mean, that's what a cruise is, isn't it? Pure indulgence and instant gratification. It's that one week that a person can relax, be waited on, eat as much as he/she wants, and do whatever he/she wants when he/she wants to. We stuff our faces (even at the midnight buffet after wolfing down a 4 course meal), drink ridiculous amounts of booze at every hour, lay out until we're red and brown tan, spend insane amounts of money on artwork, massages, jewelery, booze, etc., or push each over in line as we wait for food, drink, entertainment, or boarding.

I mean, just think of the outsiders' perspective: They're working on these cruise boats because it's better money than they can make back home. They overwork and get big checks (for them) that they can send home to better the lives of their loved ones, despite the long separation that they cannot have. And every day they watch family reunions, honeymoons, anniversaries, etc. They're surrounded by togetherness and happiness when they must feel so lonely. We eat large meals, throw out a lot of it. They must think we are so pompous and indulgent. You know, I can't even imagine what they think because I am trying to put myself in their shoes. I have no idea how it feels to be in their shoes. I have never lived in a third world country. I am an American. I am one of the people on the cruise boat that is being catered to left and right. But I do have sympathy for these poor staffers.

And we come in by the loads every week. We all must be the same to them. We stroll in with our lousy vacation t-shirts (you know, those ones dads wear with that ugly Hawaiian print) and American bills wadded up in our hands. We're ready for a vacation every week of the year, and we'll throw our money at anything just to relax and break away from the stressful work life that consists America. But they don't know that life either. It's probably a better life than they know, but the cultures clash so much. It's just so strange to see them juxtaposed together. Simply strange.

And they'll work their butts off just for that tip that we're supposed to give them at the end of the cruise. But not all people leave tips--and not all people leave generous tips. That must be such a downer when they put in their effort (not knowing how much they'll be tipped) and they end up with a lousy couple of dollars. Each cruise line is different, but I know that some of them work harder for their money than they should.

That's my two cents.

Has anyone ever cruised? Has anyone swapped stories with one of their staffers on the boat that really effected them?

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