Before I get into today’s post, don’t forget to enter my pop culture trivia contest, which I’ll keep open through the week, and it’s still not too late to place your order for an Avitable calendar. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll dry-heave, and the money you spend will also go to help some puppies find good homes here in Orlando.
From Thursday at around 1 PM to Monday around 8 AM, I was held captive passenger on the “Liberty of the Seas”, a Royal Caribbean cruise liner. I’ve been pondering and mulling and considering and deliberating the best way to recap my vacation, and finally I decided that, ultimately, a list of pros and cons would be in order.
PRO: No Internet for five days
Actually, this one is bullshit. The Internet is not some evil thing that sucks our brains out if we use it too much. It’s a tool – one that I use to keep in contact with my friends, one that I use for research, and sure, one that I use for ridiculous nonsense, too. People who think the Internet is a bad thing are probably just like those morons in the days when hammers were invented. “You rely on the hammer too much to put nails in wood. You should just use rocks like the rest of us.” It’s called progress, and I won’t apologize for using the Internet to the greatest extent possible.
CON: No Internet for five days
Yes, there was Internet available, for .65/minute at extremely slow, dial-up speeds. But even I have my limits on what I’ll spend. And in Cozumel, I could have used an Internet cafe for much cheaper, but I didn’t have my laptop and was not about to use a public computer in Mexico for a variety of germ- and keylogger- related reasons.
That’s not enough. If the ship can broadcast every football game, live, onto the big screens near the pool for all of those idiots people who can’t handle being away from their television for five days, why can’t they provide Internet at the exact same speed, for free? I call shenanigans. Motherfucking shenanigans!
PRO: Some expenses paid
Do you want four appetizers and four entrees for your dinner, just so you can sample them and discard the rest? Would you like to order room service for breakfast, eat a snack at 10, lunch at 12, have another snack at 2, eat first dinner at 4, second dinner at 8, another snack at 10, and room service at 11? It’s all free.
Whether you want to see a stand-up comedian, a 3D movie, a juggler, ice skating, or a musical, or if you want to play mini-golf, ride a surf simulator, or perform karaoke, it’s all included and available to you.
CON: Only some expenses paid
Anywhere that the cruise liner can squeeze extra money from you, they will. Do you want real orange juice instead of juice made from concentrate? Ka-ching. A soda or bottled water? Ka-ching. Ben & Jerry’s ice cream or a Johnny Rockets burger instead of the generic equivalent? Ka-fucking-ching.
You’ll pay $8-$13 per drink for booze. You can pay a $35.00 cover charge to go to a premium restaurant and enjoy an excellent filet mignon with mediocre sides and desserts, but you can only order one steak and unlimited sides and desserts. You can pay $4.95 as a cover charge to go into Johnny Rockets and eat unlimited food, except for milkshakes, which cost $4.50 each.
I went to the barber twice while I was there for a shave and a deep cleanse facial. Each time, it cost me $100. The massages and other spa treatments were inflated by at least 30% compared to good spas in locations other than Manhattan and Los Angeles.
I would have rather paid an extra $500 for my cruise and had it be actually all-inclusive then be constantly subjected to the petty nickel-and-diming that did nothing but remind me that my vacation was not about me – it was about Royal Caribbean being greedy as fuck.
PRO: Everyone on the crew is approachable
It’s nice to be greeted by everyone with a smile and a friendly attitude. I had a chance to speak with both the activities director and the cruise director, and they were engaging, personable, and actually remembered my name, which in retrospect might not be that difficult when you look like something that would happen if Kevin Smith and a gorilla had a baby.
I had the chance to talk to the comedian on board, Jeff Jena, and he was extremely friendly. Having been in comedy for as long as I’ve been alive, Jena had a lot of experience and insight into the industry, and he took it upon himself to show me around Cozumel, even introducing me to a restaurant off the beaten path (La Choza) that had fantastic, genuine Mexican food.
The barber who took care of me, Leigh, was also wonderful. She was 22, had an adorable Scottish accent, which sounded nothing like Groundskeeper Willie from The Simpsons, and did a fantastic job. We talked about comedy, she mocked me for my love of Ke$ha, and I convinced her to read my blog. I also told her that I’d write her a limerick, since she’s from the UK (and YES, I know that limericks are Irish and English, and not Scottish, but I’m an ignorant ugly American, remember?)
There once was a Scottish barber named Leigh,
Who, I must assume, sits down to pee,
She loves sarcasm, meat, and Malibu Rum,
She sings and laughs and has a nice bum,
But she laughed when I asked her to marry me.
CON: A lot of the crew are really fucking weird.
I’m sure it’s just a cultural issue since most of the crew are not from the US, but when your waiter, hailing from somewhere in North Africa/West Asia, looks at you with a giant creepy smile and says “Hello good evening my very best friends”, it’s a wee bit off-putting. Here is how a typical conversation went with Makram, our waiter:
“Hello good evening my very best friends.”
“And what can I be getting you tonight for your amazing mouth?”
“I’ll have the pumpkin soup-”
“And the spinach artichoke dip-”
“But can I have the-”
“Yes please. May you have an orgasm with your face when you enjoy the very foods I will be bringing to you.”
“Please go away now.”
The accents of the crew also made for some interesting conversations. We (me and my friends James and Carolina) were taking a tour of the spa on the first day, and meeting with each individual station. The trainer only got as far as saying, in a thick Australian accent, “We offer all sort of knee and . . . ” when James blurted out “You offer sodomy?” As it turns out, yes they do, and James still can’t walk right.
PRO: They make plenty of activities available on board.
From the moment you wake up until you fall asleep, there are at least 2-3 activities going on simultaneously across the ship. From movies showing in the screening room to gambling to dance lessons to trivia contests, there is always something going on somewhere. And, of course, there’s always the pools and the hot tubs.
CON: It feels like forced socialization.
At times, it felt like the vacation version of a senior citizen rest home. Time for shuffleboard! Time to watch a movie! Time for your Jello! Time to change your diaper! Time for bed!
I know that I don’t have to participate in any activity, but at times it felt confining and frustrating. If you’re on vacation in a city, you can get in a cab, rent a car, or just walk and go do anything – there is an entire realm of possibilities available. On a cruise, you have your pick of three or four generally mediocre activities.
Of course, you can always lay by one of the four thousand pools, go swimming, or hang out in one of the ten million hot tubs on board. I realized that I only like to lay by pools when (a) it’s my pool, which means that there aren’t 40-60 other people there, (b) I can play my music as loudly as I’d like, (c) I don’t have to wear a bathing suit. Out of the 92 hours I spent on board, less than 4 were spent by, in, or near the pools/hot tubs.
CON: The guests
I think that there are three types of people who go on cruises:
- People who go on cruises frequently because they like them – 20%
- People who go on cruises in addition to other, better vacations – 20%
- People who can’t afford a real vacation and go on a cruise because they think that’s how millionaires live – 60%
That third category? Makes me weep for humanity. They’re the type who will order every entree and every appetizer possible at every meal just because they can. These hapless denizens of the world will leave messes everywhere because somebody will clean it up. They’re obnoxious, loud, rude, and have zero consideration for anyone.
Then, of course, there was the woman who had clearly been on so many cruises and gotten so tan, both by spray and by sun, that she looked like an orange living version of Jabba the Hutt mixed with that woman from Total Recall who says “Two weeks.”.
PRO: You can visit a beautiful foreign country.
It was a great experience to walk off the ship and be in Cozumel, Mexico. Alone, I journeyed through the city for an hour or two as it misted warm rain on my quickly balding head. I was approached by the citizens of Cozumel (Cozumelians? Cozumelites? Cozumelbrooks?) offering everything from taxi rides and scooter rentals to cheap jewelry and OTC drugs like Prozac, Vicodin, or Viagra. I enjoyed a delicious meal at an authentic restaurant in the heart of Cozumel and I even drank the water. And it was fantastic.
CON: You could spend a week in that beautiful foreign country for the same cost.
For the $1800 that I spent, I could have flown to Mexico and spent five days on the coast. I might not have gotten free food, but I could have gotten good food for a reasonable price. Plus, I could have loaded up on all that Viagra.
I know that it sounds like I’m being unduly harsh on my week spent at sea, but that’s just the overly cynical part of me speaking. I spent five days away, read three books, napped, relaxed in my room or on my balcony, ate decent food, took Dramamine if the waves got too bad, and hung out with friends. There was plenty of good on my cruise, and there was also plenty to criticize, but that’s just who I am. I criticize everything on Earth. Well, except my exceptional lovemaking. That’s flawless.
I had fun, and I’m glad I went. I would even go on another cruise, with Royal Caribbean or another cruise line like Norwegian or Disney, under a few circumstances. I think having a larger group of friends would make the forced socialization aspect of it less oppressive, and I’d like to find a cruise where all-inclusive truly means all-inclusive.
My rating of the Royal Caribbean cruise to Cozumel aboard “Liberty of the Seas”:
Overall Grade: B