The other side of Cruising

August 17th, 2015 by Ken

I just finished a seven-day cruise to Alaska on the Star Princess.  The ship carried 3100 passengers and 1400 crew members.

It was a great trip, full of fun, food and great scenery.   I would suggest that anyone who can afford it should cruise to Alaska.

For all of its excitement however, cruising has another side.

From my observations – – and my observations alone – 75 percent of the travelers on my ship were white and from all of the European countries, Canada and Australia, as well as from the United States.

Most were older and retired.  I guess you have to be retired to take a couple of weeks off.   Many had been cruising multiple times.

Some 15 percent of the passengers on my ship were from India and another 10 percent from China.

These are all guesses.

The crew members were from many of the disadvantaged countries of the world – – Pakistan, Haiti, Philippines, Romania, Poland, Serbia and dozens of other countries.  Many of them spoke very little English – – but all were friendly and helpful.

It is the business of cruising that interested me.

The fee payed to travel covers room and board.   Everything else costs – – particularly drinks.  All alcohol and soda is extra. If you want to dine in specialty restaurants there’s an additional cost.   No cash is allowed and everything is charged to a credit card on file with the cruise line.

Each ship has a shopping hostess who explains the shopping opportunities in each city the ship visits.  She hands out discount coupons and makes arrangements to have shoppers transported to the various stores.

What she doesn’t tell you is that those stores are owned by the cruise lines who lease them out to various merchants.

In Juneau, three blocks of the downtown area are owned by Princess which leases the buildings to merchants.   The stores open when tourist season starts and closes when it ends.   The merchants then move to the Caribbean where they open up business on the various islands whose buildings are also owned by the cruise lines.

For the most part, local residents receive very little benefit from the cruise lines.

Most of the tour groups are also owned by the different cruise lines.

I suspect that many people know this – – but I didn’t.

The knowledge I gained gave me a better understanding of the business of cruising.   it didn’t however detract from my enjoyment of the cruise.

I would advise anyone who can afford the time and money to take an Alaskan cruise.  You’ll come back with a better understanding of Alaska and the natural environment.


Posted in Business, The Real News

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