ST. PETERSBURG CHAMBER PHILHARMONIC: Cruises Are So Uncool They Are Cool
St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic issued the following announcement on July 3.
It’s the final day of this seven-night cruise and I am sitting in my moderately messy balcony stateroom aboard the Celebrity Summit finishing the last bites of a room service cheeseburger, bags as yet unpacked for tomorrow morning’s disembarkation, the vast undulating North Atlantic just over my starboard shoulder.
I am trying to summon up my arguments in support of the mass-market luxury cruise, and against the snarky subgenre of travel writing about mass-market luxury cruises, a snarkiness best exemplified by David Foster Wallace’s classic 1997 essay “A Supposedly Fun Thing I’ll Never Do Again,” piece that is hilarious and insightful and brilliant. And also wrong.
It’s wrong because he tills every square inch of the surreal journalistic soil available to him during his own seven-day Caribbean cruise aboard the now decommissioned Celebrity Zenith (which he redubs the Nadir), but after 98 exhaustive pages of skeet shooting, conga dancing, fruit eating and existential despair falling, he fails to unearth what I believe is the flowering root of the widespread appeal of cruises: their unapologetic, gleaming banality.
Onboard, all music is easy listening. All food is easy eating. The décor is easy and soft hued in the style of a recently renovated Ramada. The nightly entertainment, too, is easy and bright and mindless. Everything about the weeklong Caribbean cruise is meant to buff life’s unpleasant edges into sea glass. If it sounds like I am making fun, I am not. I love it. I love all of it.This is my fifth Caribbean cruise, sometimes with my family, sometimes without. My first was when the rock band Train invited me to be the comedian on their annual fan cruise. Their invitation came via email from my agent with an accompanying message: “You don’t want to do this, do you?”
I thought about it for a moment, and replied, “I think I do.”
The other three were similar: performing as part of a themed cruise. I always had a great time, but thought I would never take an off-the-rack cruise like this one, believing them to be too hokey for a cool guy like me to enjoy. I was wrong. As it happens, I had it exactly backward: all the stuff I thought would be hokey, the simple sincerity of the experience, was what I enjoyed the most.But cruising’s simple sincerity never sat well with Wallace and the generation of cruise writers who followed on his sea legs. Dan Saltzstein, an editor at The New York Times Travel section, wrote in a recent article about taking a Disney cruise with his wife and daughter. “I’ve been a travel editor for nearly a decade,” he said, “and yet this was my first cruise.” The reason he hadn’t yet participated in America’s most popular vacation choice? “It hadn’t seemed like my bag.” Your “bag?” My dude, it’s a Disney cruise, not Burning Man.Over the years, across countless articles and essays, writers have deployed battalions of irony to mock a tradition immune to mockery. They are using fire to fight applesauce.
Original source can be found here.
Source: St. Petersburg Chamber Philharmonic