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Old January 27th, 2008, 04:16 PM
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Default Arthur Frommer's latest Article

Two weeks ago Arthur faulted the cruise lines for "nickel & diming" us. This week he calls us boorish and non-intelligent. Anyway, let his words speak for themselves and DO NOT MISS THE LAST PARAGRAPH!

Cruise ship gimmicks are 'deeply disturbing'
Budget Travel by Arthur Frommer

Nearly a dozen new cruise ships, some designed to carry from 3,000 to 4,000 passengers apiece, will be debuting this year. They will add more than 20,000 new berths a week, more than a million such berths a year. And they will be less like ships than like frantic amusement parks with bells clanging, lights flashing and crowds rushing from one spectacle to another.

On a recent broadcast of my Sunday Travel Show (you can hear it at www.wor710.com), a guest expert described all the new gimmicks we can expect. "They will be like nothing you have ever seen before," she announced, and with enthusiasm in her voice, she ticked off the advances:

The Queen Victoria and the Celebrity Solstice, in particular, will have "circus-training programs," "bungee jumping" and "clown acts." These will be added, presumably, to the rock-climbing walls, boxing rings, bowling alleys and vertiginous Jacuzzis jutting out from the top deck and hanging perilously over the sea (the latter have become standard on some ships, but not necessarily on the Queen Victoria or Solstice).

On a new ship of Costa Cruises, expect every conceivable game, sport and competition. What's more, Costa will introduce new, extra-charge "spa cabins" so close to fitness rooms that those staying in them can walk to the showers in their bathrobes. People booking the new spa digs will have exclusive access to that spa and to their own spa restaurant.

On some of the new ships, the democratic, one-class policies of cruising will be totally jettisoned. There will be a "ship within the ship" — an area enjoyed solely by passengers paying higher fares, a number of restaurants to which they alone will be admitted, lounges set aside for the elite.

On a new ship of Norwegian Cruise Lines, elite passengers will have special suites, special sun-deck areas to use and special swimming pools for them alone.

In all this exposition, there was not a single note of criticism, simply hearty enthusiasm about the direction in which cruises were headed.
I find these developments deeply disturbing and reflecting a lower level of culture, education and maturity in our nation.

A cruise should be sufficient in itself. It is an opportunity to venture out onto a new and unfamiliar area of the world — the vast oceans. It is sufficiently different and sufficiently provocative of eternal questions, that it need not be "aided" by bungee jumping, amateur boxing, glass-blowing exhibitions, rock-climbing and wave-surfing.

A cruise should be an occasion for conversation and reading, for long afternoons in a chaise lounge gazing at the sea and enjoying it. Those were the classic pleasures of cruising that once satisfied a large number of people, who emerged from the cruise with their equilibrium restored and with memories and new friendships.

In place of this, the cruise ships are becoming amusement parks geared to a child's mentality, raucous and hyperactive, the equivalent at sea of what gyms at home and on land normally provide. Why go to sea to become part of a crowd, to engage in bungee-jumping, rock-climbing, wave-surfing and glass-blowing? Or to listen to lectures on better makeup and gardening?

It was hoped the people who ascended to the top ranks of the cruise-ship industry would be well-educated, well-read, thoughtful people. Turns out, they are commonplace, dime-a-dozen, mindless oafs.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 05:26 AM
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Paul, I tend to agree with the article. If you are going just for the ship, not even getting off at any ports, you might as well go to an all inclusive resort and save money. I like sea days, don't get me wrong, it is just that there has to be someplace that we are heading towards that we want to see.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 10:58 AM
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The weird thing is his first guest was Rick Sasso, and he couldn't have been more enthusiastic. I am still listening to see who the female guest is.
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Old January 28th, 2008, 11:27 PM
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Paul, I can't seem to be able to find the broadcast you mention. Based on my recent experiences with Mr. Sasso and MSC, I would be inclined to agree with Mr. Frommer's last paragraph as well.

However, I understand how upsetting it is to cruising purists, to see how capitalism has infiltrated this industry and it is now pandering to every segment of society and abandoning it's roots in some ways. They are indeed trying to have something to appeal to everyone. If one is trying to preserve the historic traditions of a bygone era, this is indeed very negative.

It is now about the all mighty dollar and enticing as many people as possible to start and keep them cruising.

Honestly if the cruise industry had not evolved to appeal to my particular demographic, I know without a doubt, that I would not be cruising. I am a married, self employed mother of two small kids, and I never take vacations without them. Yes we are enticed by the children's programs, the bungy jumping thing, the waterslides, the spraygrounds, I also like the jucuzzi's that hang perilously over the sea and of course being able to see exotic locations. I considered booking one of the spa cabin's mentioned. Even though there are lots of mega ships out there and more being built all the time, there are still a few that are moderately sized to te degree that you are not always finding yourself being part of a crowd.

The truth is the cruise lines are succeeding at making money and turning a profit, for better or worse. The truth is they will charge what the market will bear and will provide the ammenities/features that will attract the most passengers.
There are a few lines that will cater to the purists, but they will pay a hefty price tag for their peaceful tranquility.
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Old February 5th, 2008, 05:43 PM
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He's not talking about us -- the cruising public, he's talking about the industry execs who come up with the "amusement park" ideas to attract the chronically bored -- those to whom the ship and the sea are not interesting enough. IMHO, he has a point.
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Old February 6th, 2008, 04:39 PM
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I know the industry is trying to get to the point where the vessel is the reason of the destination but I say that some of these amusements have gone "overboard" (pun intended). I want a quiet time at sea and some resort like distractions such as the shows. Not the other stuff.
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Old February 7th, 2008, 08:46 PM
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mehawk,

Quote:
Originally Posted by You
I know the industry is trying to get to the point where the vessel is the reason of the destination but I say that some of these amusements have gone "overboard" (pun intended). I want a quiet time at sea and some resort like distractions such as the shows. Not the other stuff.
No, the problem is that they have not gone overboard (yet). Rather, they are still on board.

But Celebrity Cruises learned -- or at least should have learned -- the hard way that playing passengers for suckers can backfire with its Cirque du Soleil "Bar at the Edge of the Earth" debacle and a few other experiements like the "Notes" music libraries on the ships of the Millennium class that failed to generate profit. If we, the passengers, ensure that the nonsense fails to make back its cost, the nonsense WILL go away as surely as these examples did.

Norm.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 12:16 AM
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Default Tend to Agree W/Arthur

I agree with much in the article....ships are more like mardi gras or amusement parks and thus, not as relaxing as I'd like. Some of the attractions are good to engage families/people of all ages, but it's gotten to be too much.

If I want to go bowling, ice skating, rock climbing or golfing....I do those things at home on dry land.

Good discussion w/this topic.
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Old April 19th, 2008, 10:41 AM
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Default Re: Tend to Agree W/Arthur

Quote:
Originally Posted by My2cents
I agree with much in the article....ships are more like mardi gras or amusement parks and thus, not as relaxing as I'd like. Some of the attractions are good to engage families/people of all ages, but it's gotten to be too much.

If I want to go bowling, ice skating, rock climbing or golfing....I do those things at home on dry land.

Good discussion w/this topic.
Well said!
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Old April 20th, 2008, 01:06 PM
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IMHO, there should be a distinct difference between cruising and going to Disney World. If you are so shallow that you require 24/7 entertainment and can find the mere ship and the sea boring, then perhaps another form of vacation is more your cup of tea.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 12:39 PM
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A RCL commerial just came on and it stressed the excurions, not the ship. The only thing it showed on board is the rock wall......interesting.

I like to have a few activities on board for sea days. My first cruise I shot skeet (that will never happen again), entered a backgammon tournament and that sort of stuff. Mostly I relaxed and enjoyed a few shows. That was the cruise that hooked me on cruising.

I think if my first cruise was all the circus stuff I might not have seen the difference between it and a land vacation.....but who knows.
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 01:26 PM
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I agree with part of his viewpoint. The current building of the circus ships is now the norm and not the "event".

My cruise fear is that the semi-traditional ships such as those of HAL, Oceana, Azamara and Celebrity will become nothing more than hulks at The Breakers.

I do hope that they continue to provide new itineraries and ports that explore areas other than the Caribbean.

In regard to "classless cruising". I believe that is becoming more common and will continue. There has always been a pseudo class system in modern cruising but the current trend will take it multiple steps beyond where it is now.

Take care,
Mike
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Old April 23rd, 2008, 04:04 PM
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If it were not for cruising, I might never have seen the Hermitage or the Winter Palace in St. Petersburg; St Paul's, Westminster Abbey and the Tower in London; Walls of ice in Antarctica, and Cape Horn; Evita's grave or Rio; two fabulous art museums and Anne Frank's house in Amsterdam; Hong Kong, the great Wall, Shanghai, Nagasaki, and Tokyo; the wonders of Alaska, Milford Sound, the Sydney Opera House, the fabled Islands of the South Pacific or a hundred wonderful museums and natural wonders around the world. My life would be infinitely poorer as a result!

That being said, a Caribbean cruise every now and then is pleasant and relaxing. There is room for both, and there is a need for both kinds of ships.
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Polynesia, Carib. '86
Cr. Odyssey, Scandinavia, '91, 30 Day S Pac. 2002
Crystal Harm, Aust., N.Z., '94
Royal Odyssey, AK,'96
Old Cr. Pr. Canal, '97
RCCL, Carib, 1998
Volendam, Car, 2000
Ryndam, 35 day S. Am., Antarctica, '03
Is. Pr., Canal, 2004
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Old April 28th, 2008, 06:53 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marc
Paul, I tend to agree with the article. If you are going just for the ship, not even getting off at any ports, you might as well go to an all inclusive resort and save money. I like sea days, don't get me wrong, it is just that there has to be someplace that we are heading towards that we want to see.
WOW Marc. I don't know what all inclusive resort you've been going to,,,,or maybe it's the type of cruises you book, but I can book a cruise and save at least half of what I'd spend on an all inclusive resort,,,not to mention the money it'd take to fly me there.
I tend to agree with most of the article, and that's probably why I prefer the smaller, older ships over the new megaships with all the crap that RCI is currently putting on its new ships. I'll continue to sail ships, and continue to stay aboard in most ports. That's what makes me happy.

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