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The Anti-Cruise Campaign is a Stinker

Written by: Paul Motter

I recently saw U.K.-based late night talk show with a host named Graham Norton. The show’s format was different from U.S. talk shows; it featured a sequence of taped celebrity interviews from different nights, but all edited together to look like one continuous show.

I watched at least two-dozen segments with very big stars and I realized each story had a common theme; their private body parts. Whether it was Adele’s “wardrobe malfunction” where a gust of wind revealed she was not wearing panties to this example called: Farting In The Women’s Toilets. Every story prompted gales of laughter; as if anything about human bodily functions is unbearably funny. (You don’t have to go there, but if you do take note of all the other clips from his show and theme of bodily functions).

Things are not much different in the U.S.

I am sure everyone reading this has heard about the “poop cruise” Why am I sure? David Letterman made hay with a “Top Ten List of Cruise Chip Names” – almost two months after the event. Ready?

Never mind, it really wasn’t funny. Demeaning and abasing are more accurate terms.

On the same show the sadly washed-up Martin Short remade the Carnival theme song. Here is his “version“.

I won’t go into all the inaccuracies, but I will point out that today’s comedians only have careers because (1) satire is exempt from slander laws and (2) tawdry “jokes” about bodily functions that should only appeal to juvenile minds still qualify as state-of-the-art comedy in today’s media, most likely because it is dominated by Facebook, YouTube and reality shows.

Media pundits are still discussing how the singular 24-hours CNN spent covering “the poop cruise” achieved its highest ratings in years. That wonderful event just won’t go away with its perfect je ne sais qua of titillation and social humiliation to make it a media windfall.

Naturally, publicity-hound politicians also want to jump aboard the “poop cruise” bandwagon. Two U.S. Senators are now claiming to be so outraged – despite the fact that cruise was a statistically insignificant event – that they want a congressional investigation. May I reiterate this singular fact? No one died or was even injured during that cruise, and everyone got home safe and more than fully compensated from the cruise line. It was a ONE-TIME EVENT while over 18-million cruises were taken in 2012 alone.

Forget Benghazi or Fast & Furious – two other international events where American government workers and citizens not only died, they were murdered.

Does one “Poop Cruise” Really Mean We Need to “Fix” the Cruise Industry?

I am a U.S. Citizen who pays taxes and makes a living solely from the cruise industry, like 35,000 other American citizens. I cover the cruise industry as a journalist, and in that role I have spent years looking at all of the issues that many people, including congressmen, still don’t understand about the cruise business.

Here are my thoughts: Each decision and step taken by the people who built our U.S. cruise industry has been made within the legal framework of U.S. federal and international maritime law regarding passenger vessels as defined by our Congress and the treaties of the International Maritime Organization (IMO) — which the U.S. has signed and followed since the day we became a nation.

With beautiful ships offering exceptional service, Our American cruise industry means exceptionally high value vacations for everyday people – even good enough for the very highly respected Disney Corporation. There is nothing inherently illegal or immoral in their method of business. It is based upon thousands of years of sea-going tradition which is the foundation for modern international maritime law.

What Happens to Cruising “If…?”

Some people are calling for laws to require cruise lines to flag themselves in the United States. Why? Solely so they would be subject to more U.S. regulation and taxes. But that is not a solution, it’s a travesty. What would really happen if you forced all cruise lines to go to U.S. registry? The same thing that would happen if every nanny and lawn worker in the U.S. had to become a union paid U.S.-citizen. Does anyone really think we could make that transition without losing thousands and thousands of jobs?

Here is what one of CruiseMates staff members, who is a solid cruise enthusiast and who leans liberal, predicted:

I see more regulation of the cruise industry in the near future and … In five to ten years I see cruising to be a much more expensive holiday and there will be fewer choices in ships, cruise lines and atmosphere. Smaller, niche, cruise lines like Azamara, Oceania, Seabourn, Silversea and Regent will either be gone or focus on the non U.S. market. Asia looks better every day for the cruise lines. I do believe that the times are changing for the cruise lines and I don’t think they will like it.

I do not agree this is coming, I still believe our senators are smarter than that. But if they are not then that prediction would be the minimum damage. I believe it would be the end of the cruise industry, because very few people would be willing or able to pay the prices a cruise line would have to charge to run a U.S.-flagged cruise line.

NCL-America is the sole mainstream U.S.-flagged cruise line in the world, and it started with three ships in Hawaii, but they eventually learned there are only enough customers to support one ship at the rates U.S.-flagged ship must charge to cover expenses. A seven-day cruise on that ship starts at $1350 for an inside cabin – roughly three times the cost of a similar cruise on any non-U.S.-flagged cruise ship sailing seven days to the Caribbean. Look at what such legislation has done to our airline industry; bankruptcies everywhere, and the customer experience getting worse every day. The industry survives, but people will always need to fly – but no one needs to take a cruise.

Such fares, along with the resulting lower levels of service that would come from barring foreign workers, would decimate the cruise industry, and in this economic climate, with joblessness near 8% and one in five people receiving food stamps, do we really need to be destroying jobs in America just so a U.S. Senator can say he took action on the “poop cruise?”

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Comments

Comment from Kenneth Eden
Time April 12, 2013 at 6:50 am

the “poop cruise” is nothing new, in fact, for decades passengers on cruise ships – not in steerage at the turn of the 20th century – got the trots and the pukes, as did people at the same time on land, in schools, hospitals, stores, – et cetera – it was called the “grippe”, and it was a seasonal thing, much as the flu is seasonal – and, lets not forget the dumb ass that eats ashore, without any thought to getting sick, and thus, gets ralphing during the cruise, from what he/she ate ashore and blames the cruise line for the food poisoning, be it mild or severe -not all dining spots ashore are bad, but, lets face it, some in some places are, as is the drinking water, found in drinks, and that washes the greens in the local salad. These are facts of life.

As for the comedy aspect, laugh getters are always after the laugh with current events as the butt of their jokes.

Graham Norton is a staple for TV in our house, a BBC production, quite avant garde, and ribbald. He once asked why anyone would use a stool softener. If one has to ask, then good luck.

Paul I do agree with you on the US flagging and taxation, aside from the silliness of the poop. I aklso supoprt what you wrote regarding the senate getting involved and what would possibly happen regarding other US non entities adn aspects tht could ricochet from legislations.

As for any cruise professional or critic seeing the demise of the cruise industry, due to regulations, and the death of niche cruise lines, that will never happen.

Just look at who owns these major and niche cruise lines, major, MAJOR corps, with
billions of dollars invested in the product and new ships.

Not to name names, but there are new cruise lines with the latest in brand new state of the art ships being built and considered now.

If the cruise lines get the shaft from the US then they will sail from near by Caribbean ports- ports with easy access for Caribbean cruises.

When the liner was king, there was and were many US flagged ships and from US owned companies, and that lingered in to the mid and later 1960′s, give or take some years. But, BUT….

Many of the ships and passsnger companies back to the late 1800′s were foreign based and flagged – Cunard, Swedish America, French Line, Greek Line, Holland America, Norwegian, Polish Canadian, Spain, Portuguise – and the beat goes on – these lines brought immigrants to the US and Canada, on non US flagged ships.

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