Updated: Sep 24, 2020
Get. Outside. Of. Your. Comfort. Zone.
My first cruise
I didn’t grow up taking family vacations. The one and only family vacation that my parents ever took us on was a trip to Disney world. 20+ years ago. Vacation in my family was well – going to visit family. It was decided to go on a cruise for Christmas 2020. While my brother and I are very welled travel, a cruise never seemed like something that we’d particularly enjoy. So, we broke completely out of our norm of independent travel and stepped curiously (skeptically) into this culture of mass consumer travel. Instead of hostels, figuring out local transportation, eating street food, – it was a lush windowless stateroom, endless buffets, and preplanned and organized events. Ugh. It was interesting to hear about ‘travel’ from those who see it through what I considered to be highly sterilized and commercialized experience. I was even more shocked to learn that for some people a cruise is their only form of travel.
My biggest takeaway from this experience was the design and structure of the cruise:
The structure of cruise offered the ‘best of all’ worlds, accessibility, affordability, balance, safe, and controlled. One could say its “All inclusive.” On one hand I loved how the structure of a cruise allows for multiple generations within families to be able to participate. I was impressed with- getting off at the ports of call, there were people with carts/minibuses to take those with physical challenges on to shore. I mean- it's really challenging to plan a family vacation where all your needs can be met – something for everyone, no matter the age, and can accommodate the requirements of different physical and mental abilities.
However, I was equally disturbed-
I felt like I was in a bubble of the all things USA going from place to place - perpetuating its highly commercialized culture of consumption. The constant selling to you stuff, every announcement, every day. Bottomless food and drinks. Drink packages that cost as much as the cruise itself.
Not to mention that you learn very little about your destination – if anything. Sure, there are some excursions you could take which may provide some insight, but the one I took provided very little, if any. I was looking forward to going to Belize as I’d never been, turns out the island “Voted The Best Destination” is owned by the cruise line (something not disclosed). We docked there on Christmas day, where about 100 locals in uniforms catered to us by selling us excursions on the island, food at very American prices (and standards). It literally closed down at 5pm, and we went back on the boat, and they went ‘home’. It was like going to a theme park for a few hours.
For me the cruise not only created a very insular community which only perpetuates a narrow view of the world. But made me think:
· Could it be that the same structures/systems that make this an “all inclusive” and “accessible” experience are the very same that limit our mobility, ability to engage, exchange ideas, truly connect – I.e. Lead?
· How are the structures and systems we engage in on a daily basis - oppress, disenfranchise people, economically, politically, legally, socially?