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Civility on a four-month cruise … it hasn’t been a geriatric Lord of the Flies but …😳

I read with interest the news articles about Life at Sea Cruises launching a three-year around-the-world tour. The adventurer in me said 'wow, that sounds like fun, and the prices are reasonable!' And then the realist in me said 'that's a recipe for mass carnage.'

Civility on the MSC Poesia has declined significantly over the more than three months we have been at sea - to the point that the captain appeared at the theatre two weeks ago to implore us, in the nicest and most diplomatic way, to please behave ourselves.

This post will not have photos to match the text - I am including just a few random shots of my trip to break up the grey space. I did not take pictures of the bad actors or the conflicts as they happened (that would be rude!).

And the story of the Poesia is not quite a geriatric Lord of the Flies (at least not yet).

But my friends and I have been shocked by the behaviour of some of our fellow travellers ... senior citizens all of them, acting very much like pre-schoolers.

People have (perhaps naturally) gravitated toward passengers who speak their own language. I, for instance, tend to hang with English speakers - Antonio being the only real exception because he is a social butterfly who hangs with everyone even if he does not understand a word they are saying.

This segregation has fostered negative stereotyping of the other nationalities. And I will admit that my friends and I are guilty of accusing the French and the Germans - the two largest national groups on the ship - of generally being overly loud and routinely impolite.

There is one German woman who regularly finds ways to jump queues. We have seen the same woman change from her wet bathing suit to dry clothes at the bar on the ship deck 😳.

But, of course, there are many more lovely Germans who would never dream of violating the social conventions and are kind and gracious and terrific travel companions. We just allow the behaviour of the one individual to color our opinions of the entire nationality.

And they do the same to us. Which has created much opportunity for hostility.

Like the time one of my beautiful and curvaceous friends disagreed with a French man about who was first in an excursion line as it narrowed from four people to two. And he told her the only reason she wanted to go first was because she is fat.

Or the time a French woman got on a bus to find a German couple in the front seat. The French woman insisted that she and her husband had reserved that space (you can't make those kind of reservations) and demanded that the German couple move. They naturally refused to do so, and the French woman would not allow anyone else onto the bus until she could sit in her desired spot. The rest of the people who were on the bus began chanting 'Get off!' over and over again. The standoff was resolved only when the tour guide gave up his own front-row seat to the French woman and stood in the aisle for the duration of the eight-hour trip.

Or the time when a French couple and a German couple in the seats behind me started shouting at each other over an issue I did not understand and the French man began threatening the German man with his cane while the German threatened back with his fists.

Or the Norwegian woman, ignoring pleas from crew members to take a seat, scrambled over disabled people in wheelchairs to be the first off a tender ship and onto an excursion bus.

Or the time they were collecting our passports at the end of an excursion day and I thought I was next in line because there was no one in front of me. But when I got to to desk, a German couple, who may have been standing off to the side, appeared out of nowhere and the man said 'oh, you just thought you would butt in ahead of us? I guess that is because you are American. I am not surprised.' When I apologized and explained that it was an error on my part and offered to let him and his wife go first, he refused and reiterated that my rudeness was not surprising given that I am American.

Call me rude if you want, but don't call me American! (Just kidding, my American cousins. 😊)

There have been numerous other instances of lack of decorum - and they are escalating in both frequency and intensity. We have heard that, in at least one instance, it came to blows ... but I did not see that with my own eyes

The crew has done the best they can to diffuse these situations. But, well, let's just say it's probably a good thing that the cruise is ending in three weeks.

And I question what would happen over the course of three years. 😄

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Eleanor Bates Dunn
Eleanor Bates Dunn
15 thg 4, 2023

I have usually sailed on Holland-America ships (11 voyages) mainly because they cater to an older crowd and only once did I experience the type of behaviour you describe and alcohol was a factor. Passengers on my HAL cruises were primarily North American with a smattering of Europeans I was not surprised that you encountered discord between German and French passengers. This is the way they are in Europe -- after all, in the last century, France was invaded twice by Germany so feelings run deep. I have had two rude experiences involving individuals from France. There was a couple on the same barge trip my Elderhostel group were enjoying on the Mississippi River. Why they chose to …

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