Have Declining Prices Led to Declining Civility Onboard?
Written by: Kuki
Though there have been a few hiccups along the way, since Sept. 11/01 the price of cruises have quite consistently floated near historic lows; the latest drops beginning this past year as the world economies battled recession.
Along with the declining prices we’ve seen more complaints about the decline in quality of food on many ships, and the decline in the levels of service, and the increase in “nickel & diming” onboard. Have we also seen a decline in the quality of the cruise passengers?
While all of use enjoy the benefits of less expensive cruise vacations, are we also becoming leery of the lower standards that come with it, including the lower standards of behaviour that some believe have come with it?
Some argue that there’s been indicators of this building in the cruise industry for several years. When such things as evening dress codes continued to be relaxed over the past 24 months or so, they state that those policies have also led to a less stringent code of behaviour and civility for the passengers.
These types of statements aren’t necessarily new; over the years we’ve seen many people voice complaints about some sailings from San Juan, Puerto Rico, where it’s been quite common for locals to be offered extremely low pricing on cruises which weren’t selling well. I think some of the conflicts in those situations may have been caused by the differences in culture and social mores. And that could indeed be the same cause of friction we’re seeing in other cruise areas.
As the world of cruising has opened up for people who previously could not afford to cruise before, perhaps their social norms are different enough from other cruisers to be seen as conflicting with the standards of more affluent long time cruisers.
No doubt there will be those who read this blog, and think of the discussion in terms in class.
But, I think that may be the very short sighted view of the topic.
I believe it’s more a case of people being less accepting of the diversity that lower cruise pricing has brought to the passenger base of cruise ships.
For many years Carnival Cruise Line gained the reputation of being a “floating frat party”. The reputation, whether deserved or not, had many people claiming that Carnival cruises were only suited for those who wanted a non stop Spring Break Party atmosphere. For years Carnival has battled the negative views which came implied in that reputation. They put new policies in place, including restricting the minimum age for passengers booking without being accompanied by parents or guardians (which was later followed by most other cruise lines). Yet, even today there is the occasion breath of that long dead reputation.
In the past 2-3 years, on several Royal Caribbean ships, they experienced problems with groups of teenagers getting out of control, vandalizing the ship, and such ridiculous things as throwing deck furniture overboard. In reaction they put curfews in place to curb such activities.
Though not common place, there’s certainly been anecdotal evidence supporting the view of the decline of civility onboard. Perhaps this is because today’s media is more interested in the reporting of these incidents.. that existed but were never reported before. Or perhaps it’s because the growth of the “information highway” has put the cruise industry, and every incident which occurs, under a microscope.
Of late there’s also been reporting that due to declining prices there are more people who’ve cruised on the mass market lines attempting to “move up” and give the luxury cruise lines a try. Perhaps an attempt to return to the more traditional cruise experience they remember.
One of the big attractions to me about cruising is that I’ve always felt a comfortable acceptance by passengers of the diversity of other passengers onboard. I’ve always felt the community or society created on a cruise ship was the most accepting I could experience anywhere. And frankly, I personally believe that is still the case.
What are your thoughts? Do you believe this acceptance of diversity onboard has disappeared, and the civility and compromise necessary to create a meshed society onboard has diminished? Is it getting worse? Are tensions onboard mounting?
Is any/all of this a result of lower prices and economic problems, or is this entire topic simply blowing isolated incidents out of proportion?
If you think the problem does exist, is it a reflection of the problem of society in general becoming less accepting of diversity? What a shame that would be after all the gains we’ve made!
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Posted: October 13th, 2009 under Kuki.