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Old May 7th, 2009, 10:58 AM
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Default Where are the main stream cruise lines really headed?

Over the past few months it seems the cruise industry in order to stay afloat has instituted a number of "cost Cutting" "Revenue generating" ideas that really leave me wondering whether or not we will at the end of the day be able to distinguish main stream cruise lines from one another ... other than uniforms and logo of course..

Along with the introduction of the MEGA ships, comes the introduction and public education of how to most efficiently move masses of people from point a to point b while maintaining that "we treat you special".

I realize that removing chocolates from pillows and charging $$ for "the best steak" might be great for the P&L bottom line for a quarter or two.. but it is not in my opinion the way to build that all important repeat customer base in which companies require for sustained success.

If the main stream cruise lines continue in this direction I personally feel Prices of cruises will continue to go down..as they will do anything to fill the ships figuring on recouping the lost revenue $ from guests once on board..

Imagine if you will a day where you book your cruises ala cart .. you pay for linen and pillows..you pay for all you can eat buffet or dining room privileges ..you can pay a surcharge and eat at both but not at specialty dining that will cost extra ( they might even develop the concept of pay toilets ...(just out side of the bars and lounges of course).. It may not be that far down the road..

I can almost guarantee you it will happen unless the cruising public stands up and together says this is unacceptable! I feel the cruise lines are banking on the fact most will say ..... "Hey I don't care.... it's a cruise!"

Just something I have been thinking about..

Would love to get your take..

Joey
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Old May 7th, 2009, 11:04 AM
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Default Re: Where are the main stream cruise lines really headed?

Quote:
Originally Posted by joeyanddavid
Imagine if you will a day where you book your cruises ala cart .. you pay for linen and pillows..you pay for all you can eat buffet or dining room privileges ..you can pay a surcharge and eat at both but not at specialty dining that will cost extra ( they might even develop the concept of pay toilets ...(just out side of the bars and lounges of course).. It may not be that far down the road..
Check out easyCruise. They are already providing the ship as transportation type cruise. Meals are extra.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 05:53 AM
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You're absolutely correct. The cruise industry, like most travel (and all other industies for that matter) are going the way of the least common denominator, the fast buck. Look at the hotel industry. At first, in the dawning of hotels in America, they were swank stylish places that only the uber rich could afford. Over the years they became more prevalent and much, much cheaper. Now we see a sort of hierarchy of hotels. Some really cheap and coorespondingly lousy hotels, some really expensive and very lavish hotels and lots in between.

I believe the cruise industry is going through the same evolution. In general, the industry is trying to cater to more and more people. Prices are dropping as are services. However, there are many that still want the glory days of lavish cruises. I think we will see the same hotel hierarchy in the cruise industry. Very distinct lines, or maybe ships. Some will cater to the "menu" type cruise where you pick and choose what you will and will not have and pay for each accordingly. Others that are more like the original cruises, all inclusive and very swank but expensive. Then a lot in between, most things included some costing extra and moderately priced. Just my take on things.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 08:40 AM
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I don't remember if this line was from CNBC's Cruises Inc. or from one of the supplementary clip on their website. But related to the that program was the statement that more people go to Branson Missouri every year than go on cruises. I've not been to Branson, but I don't picture it as a place full of posh hotels. At least those I know have gone to Branson are not looking to drop many $s. In order to expand their market the cruise lines will have to reach down market.

Most hotel companies own a number of brands, each focusing on a particular niche. You can already see some of that with the lines owned by CCL and RCCL.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 08:53 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by thasic
I believe the cruise industry is going through the same evolution. In general, the industry is trying to cater to more and more people. Prices are dropping as are services.
You are so correct. I agree with all of your post, but in particular the quote above. Over here in Europe, a Carnival Company called P&O introduced a Cheap and Cheerful concept called Ocean Village.

It was very noticable at each port when The OV was docked. The standard of passnegers left a lot to be desired.
Rough, drunk and very loud. Shame really.
Cruise ships like this, are somehow ruining the image of an otherwise great vacation experience.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 09:15 AM
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[quote="Lynn Knickers"]
Quote:
Originally Posted by thasic


It was very noticable at each port when The OV was docked. The standard of passnegers left a lot to be desired.
Rough, drunk and very loud. Shame really.
Cruise ships like this, are somehow ruining the image of an otherwise great vacation experience.
Lynn it is a shame..
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:30 AM
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Not only is the demographics of the average cruise passenger changing but the average corporate cruiseline employee is, too. Both are younger and have a different view of what a cruise should be. Hence the mega ships with their carousels and ice rinks.

The past few years have been a boom for cruiselines. Those were heady days. Loyalty programs were generous and passengers were enthusiatic. But the recession and their bottom line has caused cruiselines to rethink how they proceed. Just like the banking industry and mortgage corporations, the cruise lines will change because they have to.

I think there will always be luxury cruises for those who want them and can afford them. But I think the mainstream lines will become even more mainstream as they compete for the same customers. And since loyalty incentives have been drastically reduced by most cruiselines, these customers will shop around for the best bargain.

But I am not one who thinks change is bad. For me, these changes mean I will have to thoroughly research any cruise before I book to make sure it fits my needs and expectations.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:38 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildRover
For me, these changes mean I will have to thoroughly research any cruise before I book to make sure it fits my needs and expectations.
Don't you do that already?
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Old May 8th, 2009, 11:58 AM
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No, believe it or not, I am so new to cruising that I am open to any cruiseline as long as it's going where I want to go. My first cruise was booked as I was looking for airfare to FLA and I stumbled upon a good deal! I booked first --- asked questions later! At the time, most cruiselines were basically the same = food is included; other stuff is extra. The items that set cruiselines apart are really only things that experienced cruisers are aware of. I just wanted to go on a cruise. But possible future changes like the ones you mentioned, may force me to research further so I know what I am getting into.
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Old May 8th, 2009, 12:02 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildRover
No, believe it or not, I am so new to cruising that I am open to any cruiseline as long as it's going where I want to go. My first cruise was booked as I was looking for airfare to FLA and I stumbled upon a good deal! I booked first --- asked questions later! At the time, most cruiselines were basically the same = food is included; other stuff is extra. The items that set cruiselines apart are really only things that experienced cruisers are aware of. I just wanted to go on a cruise. But possible future changes like the ones you mentioned, may force me to research further so I know what I am getting into.
Wow!!! Good for you! You are so much more braver than i was..
You would have thought I was ready to invest the family fortune in the stock market with all the research i did on my first cruise..
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Old May 8th, 2009, 01:12 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WildRover
I think there will always be luxury cruises for those who want them and can afford them. But I think the mainstream lines will become even more mainstream as they compete for the same customers. And since loyalty incentives have been drastically reduced by most cruiselines, these customers will shop around for the best bargain.
I have wondered about the really high end suites like those on the NCL Jewel class ships. If I could afford 25K for a cruise would I spend it on a main stream vessel?
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Old May 9th, 2009, 12:01 PM
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No, you wouldn't -- or at least shouldn't. Booking an ultra high dollar suite on a low end ship like NCL would be like building a $5M house in the bad part of your town.

Unfortunately, the mass market lines have been getting less desirable to me for almost ten years now. A few years back, they reached the point where I'd rather stay home, if that were my only option. For a while, back then, I could find some cruises on RSSC and Silverseas that were affordable to me. Then came the present "economic problems", so now I am a land lubber!
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Old May 9th, 2009, 12:08 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by babe ruth
No, you wouldn't -- or at least shouldn't. Booking an ultra high dollar suite on a low end ship like NCL would be like building a $5M house in the bad part of your town.
Excellent point!

Quote:
Unfortunately, the mass market lines have been getting less desirable to me for almost ten years now.
we are very very close to this point...
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Old May 10th, 2009, 04:36 PM
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Thank you for understanding my point of view. These awful Lager Louts as they are referred to over here, are so so downmarket. most are in their late twenties, overweight and are drunk with small kids running behind them. I feel so sorry for society when these kids grow up and will be so un-educated. This type of cruise vacation should stop, I dont know how the cruise lines make money from these type of big drunk people. *S*T*O*P* just answered my own question. Its sales of alcohol !!

I am a member of an organisation over here trying to make people as I have described, be responsible adults. Its hard trying to re-educate people. I know some people were brought up by bad parents, but it must stop. Now.
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Old May 10th, 2009, 05:54 PM
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Questions from the States. Is P&O using its older ships for this "Ocean Village" concept? And do cruises under this concept tend to be shorter ones? If the answers are both "yes", I believe that this concept has been in use by lines serving mainly the US market for some time, though it hasn't been "named" by any line.

Also, there really are significant differences among mass market ships -- even within the same line -- in terms of physical condition, quality of food and service, and crowding. The example of NCL comes to mind. While NCL is perhaps the most "ala carte, nickle and diming" of major mass market lines. But fares are low, and some of their newer ships are pretty nice. People who know what they are getting into have fun on them. But NCL's "Dream" is a sad old thing that was actually cut in two at one point, with a section of only cabins added in the middle. As a result, the "Dream" has perhaps the most crowded passenger to space ratio of any major line ship. And the added section in the middle resulted in a very confusing floor plan for this ship. And again, the "Dream" is quite old and was shabby when I was aboard her 10 years ago -- and I am told that things have gone downhill from there. So research before booking is important.
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Old May 11th, 2009, 05:55 PM
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I tend to a greater or lesser degree, to agree with those comments previously posted, especially Lynn's. I have only been on two (soon to be three) cruises on the same ship on the same itinerary and at the same time of year. While of course that is unbelievably narrow, it has nevertheless afforded me the ability to compare "apples to apples" and "oranges to oranges" in almost every aspect.

To help bolster my comments, I have for years been addicted to ocean liners and North Atlantic travel for which anyone who has read the articles I have written and were posted on this site will vouch.

To be perfectly honest, I saw slight changes between my first cruise in 2006 and my second in 2008 (the biggest negative being a much less friendly attitude in the inhabitants of the islands visited, especially Sint Maarten.

The biggest "on board" things were the new menus which narrowed selection to a lot more of what I would call "everyday" dishes. Nevertheless the food was still very good. As do many, I spend less time now critiquing food, simply because it is so much an individual preference. I know of "well heeled" folks who have complained about the overall cuisine in a Michelin rated five star restaurant. Are those people wrong? Are they idiots? I haven't a clue and would never be so presumptuous as to hazard a guess.

With cruising as it is with all other money making endeavors, it all boils down to "business." If one starts finding unacceptable, the changes in their favorite cruise line, they're going to go elsewhere. Will that make them happy? Maybe, then maybe not. If cruise lines start "nickel and diming" their passengers even more than they already are, will that drive them away? Who knows?

What I do know is this. If a company goes so far as to alienate their return passengers, they're going to eventually lose money. If that happens, they're going to shut down. It's just that simple.

I personally am sure that the industry will always be evolving, trying to satisfy the sensibilities of it's current clientele group while trying to attract those of yet another.

One can see that already occurring within lines themselves, usually by relegating the smaller, older vessels to those categories who do not normally spend as much as do the majority of their usual passengers.

It is quite possible, that some cruiselines will spin off what I'd call "sub lines" to satisfy a niche group, especially if their overall bookings begin to fail for reasons such as those described by Lynn all of which will, of course, give a whole new meaning to the term "Booze Cruise." And believe me, the Cruise Lines will know.

In closing I'll just say, it'll be interesting to watch.

Todd
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Old May 12th, 2009, 02:15 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ToddDH
In closing I'll just say, it'll be interesting to watch.

Todd
For me, I wish we could have smaller ships, less amount of pax on board. If this meant paying additional money, perhaps I would pay. I do understand that cruising has probally decreased in price since 15 years ago, but although the theory of additional restaurants, additional menu choices should mean the pax benifit, the reality is that what used to be "Standard" is now an additional income for the cruise line.
Will I continue cruising...of course, but that doesnt mean that I can compare.
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Old May 12th, 2009, 11:39 PM
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Lynn Knickers, I think you misunderstood my post. I believe the direction of the cruise industry is not really bad. I prefer some stratification in the types of cruises available. The "riff raff" and "rabble" (I prefer to call them people of lesser means or the bulk of society that gets most of the work done and actually make money for the wealthy) deserve to spend their hard earned money too. It is only logical that the cruise industry service them. What I want to see are ships that are dedicated to each differnt social and economic level. Personally, I have no desire to vacation with the brutish hoards or the rich snobs. I'm a middle of the road guy. I like a fun, eventful cruise but not a drunken orgy. I like Disney and RCCL. They fit my tastes. Perhaps others like a more serene setting. Obviously many like the "party" atmosphere. More power to them. Let's have lots of choices. The more people that can afford to cruise the better for everyone.
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Old May 24th, 2009, 03:57 PM
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To answer your header question

They are heading for burst, they have a mixed up market that people may try, but too diverse in bulk for the others they may meet or experience.

The cheap "get onboard" advertising gets them on first time, but once onboard they then see the reality of cost and may not return. It may seem "cheap", it may be "bulk" but my guess is it will not have the repeated "following" it once had in the past, a following that led them to build all the "superships".

As their core gets older,,,,its a bubble ready to burst
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Old May 24th, 2009, 06:47 PM
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Dayvid,

People have been complaining about the things you have mentioned (and not without possibly good reason, mind you) since long before I took my first cruise in 2006. Yet the industry has nevertheless exploded just in those three or four years.

Will it get tighter now because of the economy. Undoubtedly. But it still seems to be one of the most popular vacations in the country, even in these trying times.

Nevertheless it could at some point go bust. That will only occur, however, when the vacationing public considers it no longer of value. thus far at least, there are no signs showing that even beginning to occur.

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Old May 26th, 2009, 01:05 PM
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People HAVE been complaining about extra charges for things that used to be standard for longer than since 2006. The complaints have been appearing for at least ten years. And the reason the complaints keep coming is that just as soon as the passengers get used to one round of "extras", here comes another! Things like this can be "pushed" only so far, and then the breaking point is reached. David predicts the breaking point is not far off. I confess that I don't know when the breaking point will happen, but if trends continue, that point will be reached.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 02:31 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DayvidB
It may seem "cheap", it may be "bulk" but my guess is it will not have the repeated "following" it once had in the past, a following that led them to build all the "superships".
That is why Sam's Club and Costco are struggling so much. (Oh wait they are not.)

Quote:
As their core gets older,,,,its a bubble ready to burst
This is true. Probably accounts for the growth in supposedly adults only Serenity decks and the like. Hopefully as I age I can afford to swim up market a little as I am sure my tolerance for crowds will decrease.
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Old May 26th, 2009, 04:16 PM
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You missed it, sorry for not explaining it right
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Old May 26th, 2009, 05:48 PM
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babe ruth,

You may well be right and maybe that would be a good thing. I don't know. But what I shall say is, "Don't hold your breath."

A few years ago a 7oz can of name brand Tuna was 59 cents. Now it's well over a dollar and guess what, that 7 oz can is now 5.5 ounces. Yet people keep buying it.

A few years ago a half gallon of name brand ice cream was three dollars or so. It still is in a lot of places. Problem is the container went from a half gallon to 56 ounces and now are converting to 48 ounces.

A few years ago a steak dinner in a pretty good restaurant was $12.00. Today it's over twenty and the steak's smaller (not to mention a lof of your more popular chains such as Applebees serve USDA Good grade beef (which I refer to as USDA Roadkill) as opposed to USDA Choice.

And if one wants to compare apples to apples, a drink in a New York nightclub with good entertainment is going to run you more if not sometimes much more (and have far less booze in it) than on a cruise ship.........and that's after you paid the $10 to $15 gate fee upon entering.

I'm sure the bubble will burst. The only thing is it will be from the overall economic morass into which we're spiraling ever deeper far sooner than as a result of increased beverage fees on cruise ships.

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Old May 26th, 2009, 06:09 PM
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I want to thank all the posters for a great discussion...
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Old May 26th, 2009, 07:21 PM
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Green__rd:

Wait a second. Sams and Costco are REALLY cheap, and they don't hit you with a bunch of extra charges and fees to do thing like use the restroom or talk with a salesperson. Nope, the marked price is what you pay, with no surprises. These stores are excellent business models for other businesses, including cruise lines. Problem is, cruise lines are NOT following this business model. Instead, cruise lines are following the business models of some other retailers and some car dealers who try to "tack on" extra charges for everything. And almost all of the retailers and dealers like this have failed -- at least in my area.
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Old May 27th, 2009, 04:50 AM
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I think some people prefer the added charges so the actual cruise is more affordable. There are 'all inclusive' vacation destinations that are literaly all inclusive, booze, entertainment, room the works. For me this is not a great deal. I don't drink that much alcohol so I would be paying a hefty fee for others to do so. I prefer to pay as I go with the booze. How many people would pay an extra $1000 for a cruise that included all excursions? What if you were only interested in 1 in 10 of the offered excursions, maybe spending a port day or two on board? Not a good deal then, right? Sure the drinks and speciallty ice cream and restaurant cost extra. So? There was no Ben and Jerrys before. No Johnny Rockets. You can choose to not partake of these added costs. As long as the crusie line still offers the free soft serve machine and a hamburger joint near the pool, who cares? My fear is they will make the extras the only. That would really stifle the good times.
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Old May 27th, 2009, 03:05 PM
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This is why not all cruise lines need to be all-inclusive. There is a market for an "ala carte" cruise -- so long as the extras are not priced sky high as they are now. The President of a cruise line that was about to go all inclusive a few years back told me that the cost per diem per guest of including alcoholic beverages was $10 per diem per guest -- that's all.
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Old May 27th, 2009, 03:39 PM
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Its a long time since I quoted a full post, but babe, you said what I was going to say

"Wait a second. Sams and Costco are REALLY cheap, and they don't hit you with a bunch of extra charges and fees to do thing like use the restroom or talk with a salesperson. Nope, the marked price is what you pay, with no surprises. These stores are excellent business models for other businesses, including cruise lines. Problem is, cruise lines are NOT following this business model. Instead, cruise lines are following the business models of some other retailers and some car dealers who try to "tack on" extra charges for everything. And almost all of the retailers and dealers like this have failed -- at least in my area".

Those are not good examples of a comparison to the cruise industry as when you buy their membership, pay your fee and walk through the door, then what you get is what you expect,,,,no surprises.

Thasic as I say on my other thread, a reality check here. In the vast majority of "bulk cruise lines" if all you spend is the price to be there in that cabin price for 7 or 10 days then the line on you has lost money being on there.

The extras and the people that BUY them are making up the difference from your cabin price, to the cost of you "actually" being on board.

THAT is where their profit is, it is not from just being there as a person sleeping in the cabin and eating X times a day in their restaurants. That LUXURY is their loss leader, simple the others make their profit
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Old May 27th, 2009, 04:03 PM
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Just read this one from Lynne

"Thank you for understanding my point of view. These awful Lager Louts as they are referred to over here, are so so downmarket. most are in their late twenties, overweight and are drunk with small kids running behind them. I feel so sorry for society when these kids grow up and will be so un-educated. This type of cruise vacation should stop, I dont know how the cruise lines make money from these type of big drunk people. *S*T*O*P* just answered my own question. Its sales of alcohol !!

I am a member of an organisation over here trying to make people as I have described, be responsible adults. Its hard trying to re-educate people. I know some people were brought up by bad parents, but it must stop. Now.

Sorry Lynne but you are not real for lots of reasons, but your stance makes me laugh in how you are positioning yourself. You nearly got it right, but not quite in your wind up thoughts,,,mmmm you got close though.

Its a really good character, the picture, the stance you have created and I will give you that. But you have been found out, good try.

For those that dont understand my thoughts, we have a made up character here including how they think. We used to call them trolls, I dont know what we call them now.

You don't believe me, think its a personal attack, mmmm. Click on the name beside the "wholesome" picture and read said persons posts, it is too good to be true. How they present an opinion on "dodgy" subjects like children or class, people that they know others will then react too.

Good try Lynne or whataver your name is
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