Southwest Florida Yachts


Ships of Foolishness
By Barb Hansen
February 1, 2005

ruise ships are popular. I know because they keep getting bigger. And bigger. Next thing you know theyíll make one longer than three football fields, something big enough for 3,500 sardines. Oops. I meant passengers.

Oops again. I just learned they have already launched a cruise ship for more than 3,500 lemmings. Did I say that? Sorry. I meant consumers. Well, yes, itís true. It has 1,487 cabins and bunks for 3,710 really thin but not too long people.

Impressive specs, she has: consumers will take advantage of a million miles of buffet lines, 2-million -miles of interior passageways, 5-million slot machines, and 6-trillion drink umbrellas.

The entire ship goes to one little island and everyone gets off for a few hours and snorkels around the same fish. The next day they are allowed off the ship to go shopping for tourist trinkets and when they get back to the vessel they can slide their credit card through more machines and acquire still more trinkets.  

Different strokes for different folks and all that but is it really smart to be launching 4,000-passenger ships?  I worry a bit that every time one of these paeans to second-wave mass marketing sails theyíre going to make some cruisers turn away from boating all together. Now, thatís a shame.

Thatís not for me. I vote for the little ship that could, something with two or maybe three cabins instead of two or three thousand cabins. What a difference a boat makes. One has 21 restaurants. The other has one galley and a small fridge. One has chefs, captains and waiters. The other requires you to bring your own groceries and you have to do your own cooking. One plies the high seas. The other cruises smoothly along a placid coastal waterway framed by mangrove wilderness.

My vessel doesnít have an activities director; it doesnít have an ATM; it doesnít have an onboard hospital. In fact, it doesnít have a schedule unless you say so. If itís Tuesday, it wonít be Belgium but just tell the captain and you could be on Sanibel Island, Captiva Island, Cabbage Key, Useppa Island, or a beach youíll have all to yourself on Cayo Costa.

The little boat that could doesnít have line dance contests. Passengers donít cut into the buffet line to take the last shrimp.  On my cruise ship, dressing up for a meal means pulling a tee shirt over your swimsuit. After your delicious repast -- Hey, you bought the groceries -- prepared by loving hands in the private galley, you can have drinks on the aft deck.

There is no disco, no line dancing, no ballroom waltzes. But if you want to shake a leg you can climb the steps to the fly bridge and whoop and holler a bit. Just a bit, though. Or, you may prefer to just sit in silent pleasure as the Florida sun sinks behind those dramatic clouds on the horizon.

Put this information in your vacation planner. And the next time youíre thinking about a cruise, think small. Like two or three cabins small.

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