Wednesday, March 22, 2017

Spring Break, Day 8 and Beyond -- thoughts and take-aways

The deboarding process was exactly as efficient as the onboarding process, and we were out and off to the airport with our luggage quickly and easily, and our flight home was uneventful, and our arrival back to our home was pleasant -- it was good to see our dog again, to lay down in our bed again, to use our washer and dryer again. It was a little disappointing that there weren't any towel animals, or turn-down service, and there wasn't a 24-hour room-service line, and we had to cook our own food rather than just wander into the dining room and grab food. So, trade-offs, really.

Jean and I had several conversations, especially in the last two days of the cruise, about whether or not we would be interested in going on JoCOcho (aka JoCoCruise VIII). Our experience was a generally positive one, and I certainly had a blast, but we both recognized that, as a couple prone to introversion, we spent a bunch of time turtling up together and not giving ourselves the chance to meet new friends. Especially at dinner; we had a tendency to grab a two-top and sit together, rather than joining a big group table and getting to know other people over dinner. If we were to do Ocho, our goal would be to do group tables every day it was possible. We also recognized that the cruise would have been more enjoyable had we had more friends with which to spend time, so another variable in our attending Ocho-on-the-Oosterdam is if we can convince any other people to also go on the cruise.

We also agreed that the price bump for a veranda cabin is significant, possibly significant enough to stop us from making the change, and that might be a deal-breaker. While the internal cabin was perfectly cromulent (and the Rotterdam deck, deck 7, was basically the Best Deck Ever), it would be nice to get some natural light in the morning, and having a place to just sit privately and watch the water and wake up and/or journal and/or read a book would be fantastic. That said, it's almost double the cost of an internal cabin. And while the internal cabin was fine, we're not sure we'd be willing to do it again. On the gripping hand, we spent an unexpected amount of time in our cabin, and if we were doing it again, we would probably try to spend less time there. Also, I'd probably bring my white-light clock.

Jonathan Coulton himself said that taking a cruise is a lot like living like a really rich person for a week: you're waited on hand and foot and nothing costs anything.  This is true, and it's amazing in several ways. It's also true that, in general, the people waiting on you hand-and-foot are mostly young mostly people of colour (in our case, almost exclusively Filipino youngsters), and if you're in any way socially conscious this leads to some really, really uncomfortable moments, like when you realize that while the workers are mostly PoCs, the managers and supervisors are almost all white, and a significant number of them are men.

That said, it was good to hear that as a group, the Sea Monkeys were considered some of the best passengers that our crew had served -- we responded to instructions, tipped well, treated people like human beings with names and lives, recognized we were privileged and tried not to take too much advantage of that, and in general acted like decent human beings -- but the fact is still that we were a bunch of mostly white, mostly wealthy Westerners being waited on by young people of colour. Also, having done a bit of research, cruise jobs in general are just terrible, shitty jobs: because they're mostly at sea, a lot of labour laws just don't apply, so the folk are working long hours for not-great pay, and the only thing that makes it survivable is that a worker doesn't have any time to spend the money made, so it ends up piling up pretty well (though, with all the Filipino folk, I imagine it was either being sent back to the family or being saved up for a chance to start a business).

I personally tried very hard to learn all of the names of the crew I interacted with, and tried very hard to be at least as polite to them as they were to us. Rather than just seeing them as faceless servitors, I worked hard to make sure I was seeing them as people, and treating them as someone who was doing a hard and often thankless job generally quite well. This ended up being extremely hard on day five when I was sitting next to the pool and was irked that a young man with a tray wasn't making it down to my end of the pool fast enough. And then metaphorically punching myself in the head for that particular thought, and then getting up and walking the twenty feet or so to the bar, because GODS FORBID I walk twenty feet to get my drinks...

Especially with BlizzCon happening in November (and the plan for a big chunk of our Raid Team to meet up during this one), it's a real question whether or not we can even save the bank we'd need for Ocho. But I change my mind every five minutes as to whether or not I want to go again. I mean, I definitely DO want to go again, but there are some definite caveats on how that can happen.

I had a fantastic time on JoCoCruise VII. And I am definitely glad I went.