Taking a cruise holiday is proving to be the most in-demand travel sector for growth at the present time. This fact also presents an issue pertaining to the nature of the holidaymaker stepping aboard the cruise ships in the current economic climate of discounts and reduced prices.
CEO of Carnival Corporation was questioned on this point at the recent Travel Convention in Barcelona, Spain. Mr Arison was asked whether the cruise ships now catered for a different and perhaps less desirable kind of passenger, and if this was leading to unstable social climates at sea.
Mr Arison defended the behaviour of his passengers with reserved generality: “The reality is that a ship is a microcosm of any location” He said, unimpressively.
Certainly the concept of cruise holidays was marketed as low-cost by entrepreneur Stelios Haji-Ioannou and his water borne venture; EasyCruise. However EasyCruise presently only operate around Greece and Turkey and are no competition for the likes of Carnival Corporation who carried 8 million cruise passengers this year.
Can the perceived downgrading of the cruise experience be blamed entirely on Stelios? Surely that is unfair. First the travellers should go under the microscope, as it is after all our own choices and behaviours which shape the overall enjoyment of travelling.
It appears that the threshold of accessibility has occurred, with 3 million new customers trying a cruise holiday for the first time in 2009.
Can we expect the decks of cruise ships to morph in to troubled bar-room brawls with rebellious teenagers spraying graffiti in the captain's bridge?
Perhaps the heritage and perceived status of a cruise is what makes it desirable, not only for the middle and upper-classes, but in a previously aspirational way for lower classes. Some prefer not to mention the class system, but it very much exists, despite being cloaked under layers of equality and equal opportunity disguises.
It's not “class” in the sophisticated sense of the word which applies anymore though. No, far more influential and easy to come by is the layered class system of wealth. This way, the behaviour of guests aboard cruise ships can be selected by income level, rather than by how many surnames and letters follow a name. The rich will simply go on more expensive cruises. And here's the surprise, the range of behaviour is going to be more or less identical on cheap and expensive cruises. Why? Because people are the same. The fact one's income is higher than another, means nothing about social conduct.
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