My family and I went on a four-day cruise to Mexico this past spring. I loved visiting the Mayan ruins and I admit the food on the ship was pretty darn wonderful at times. But otherwise? I'm just not a cruiser. My in-laws love cruises. We have neighbors here who love cruises. My husband's close friend from high school feels it's the best money spent on a family vacation. Most of the time, I just felt like I was in a redneck bar on the waves--not that I have anything against rednecks, having grown up in southern Virginia and having been labeled a redneck a time or two (or twelve) in my life. Still, it wasn't my cup of herbal tea or near beer or whatever. I felt claustrophobic most of the time, and I think seeing a literal boatload of inebriated people in their swimsuits (and entirely too many of those were Speedos!) for the better part of the day is just, well, less than appealing.
Obviously, I'm not a commercial for Carnival.
So when the news broke this week that a Carnival ship was stranded off the coast of California, I felt a little for the passengers. A little. Not a lot. And then when the reports came in about the people having to eat Spam and Pop-Tarts . . . ? I have to say my sympathy pangs dropped off completely.
Look, I hate the stench of a backed-up toilet as much as the next person. So, yeah, that aspect of the cruise-gone-bad surely sucked. Then again, I grew up about half an hour from a paper mill. Ever smelled one of those? Even the thought of it can still make me sick to my stomach.
As for Spam and Pop-Tarts? Heck, some college kids live off those things. My brother, bless his earnest soul, ate hotdog buns with ketchup for dinner many a night when he was putting himself through college. He worked at a convenience store, and that was as nutritious a 10-cents meal as he could come up with. And I've eaten a tin or two of Spam in my day (see the above paragraph about my roots) not because my family loved the taste but because it was cheap. And Pop-Tarts? We couldn't afford them. When we did eat something approximating them, it was the cardboard store brand. Even then, who's complaining? Not me. It was still a treat. I also had my share of Velveeta and Miracle Whip and cube steak (I challenge you to find a cheaper cut of red meat)--none of which you'll ever find on a cruise ship.
Cruises are for privileged people, whether it's an economy cruise on Carnival or a first-class cruise on Crystal. I know that. Redneck or not, that bar I was on was on the ocean, for crying out loud. And someone else was making me my meals and cleaning my room and even babysitting my kids a few hours a day. I may not pay for all of that again, but it wasn't exactly the worst experience of my life. To utter any kind of complaint, really, is the equivalent of saying the seat-warmer in my make-believe leather-interior luxury car is a tad too warm on my equally make-believe well-toned, personal-trainer-trained gluteus maximus.
And had I ended up stranded for a couple of days, without air conditioning, and with only Spam and Pop-Tarts to eat? Well, I'm pretty sure it still wouldn't have been the worst experience of my life.
Look, we all have reasons to complain. And we all have reasons not to. I'm just saying perspective is a lot healthier than getting drunk off free alcohol and then complaining the beer wasn't cold.