“Blues Cruise”

You may have heard of the recent trend of what might be called ‘intellectual cruises’ which are pretty much your standard cruises for those who like that sort of thing and can afford it except that instead of (or in addition to) the usual entertainments provided, one gets to hobnob with writers and political operatives, by having a different one at your table at mealtimes or attending seminars and panel discussions or just mingling with them at social events.

Those with left-wing politics can go on a cruise sponsored by The Nation magazine while those with right-wing politics have one sponsored by the National Review. Joe Hagan attended the latter and wrote about his experience for the magazine New York.

The Caribbean cruise began on November 11 and it had clearly been anticipated as a rollicking celebration of Mitt Romney’s victory over the Communist usurper, so the mood was somber and filled with bitter recriminations as to how things could have gone so badly wrong, who was to blame for what was seen as an electoral fiasco, and paranoid fantasies about the disaster they felt was imminent.

This was a phenomenon that was common on the cruise—the conservative pundits and columnists from the National Review attempting to gently disinter their followers from unhelpful conservative propaganda. For people who believe in the truth of works like Dreams From My Real Father, a conspiracy-­theory documentary that argues that Obama’s real father was a communist propagandist who turned Obama into a socialist Manchurian Candidate, this could be difficult work.

Hagan provides some nice vignettes about the people who joined the cruise.

The crowd was noticeably older, a retirement crowd in ­vacation-wardrobe colors, with flashes of the idiosyncratic: a one-eyed man in retro Yves Saint Laurent glasses and a sixtysomething blonde in gold-lamé pants. Ralph Reed, resplendent in a blazer and billowing pleated pants, held court among his fans. “I did my job!” I overheard him say.

A few took the opportunity to grouse to me about their liberal children, who seemed to bring them genuine disappointment and confusion.

I met a man near the railing who was there as a caregiver for a 70-year-old National Review cruiser from Palm Desert, California. He was gay and seemingly liberal and had come on the cruise only to push his boss around in a wheelchair. As he smoked a cigarette, he recounted a conversation the two had about the ship’s largely Indonesian and Filipino staff.

BOSS: You notice none of the workers are white.

CAREGIVER: Except the managers upstairs.

BOSS: Well, that’s the way it should be.

Indeed, that sense of fear was everywhere on the ship, fear of an impending debt crisis that would crush all fortunes, fear that the Anglo majority was now marginal for the first time in their adult lives, fear that the country the cruisers once knew had fully given way to something more … diverse, foreign, incomprehensible.

It is an amusing piece about the anxieties of the one-percenters, especially if you enjoy schadenfreude.


  1. Rodney Nelson says

    Some of those conservatives should have been on the last cruise I made. This was on a commercial fishing boat. Rhode Island fishers feel rather disdainful towards the rich and would have no trouble telling people who can afford pleasure cruises exactly where to go and what to do when they got there.

  2. says

    Those with left-wing politics can go on a cruise sponsored by The Nation magazine

    I got an email from them about that. Almost posted about it. How…problematic.


    My first thought reading this was that Tea Party Poseidon Adventure would make great comedy fodder.

  3. otrame says

    I read it the other day. I thought it was a nice piece. I kind of felt sorry for the run-of-the-mill rich guys all confused and worried, while they paid lots of money to be on board the cruise with the very people who had been lying to them for so long (thus causing the confusion).

  4. says

    Sorry! Wrong thread…

    A few took the opportunity to grouse to me about their liberal children, who seemed to bring them genuine disappointment and confusion.

    How awful.

    My father, a Republican involved in local politics, supported me and was interested in what I had to say as a union activist and as an anarchist.

    I want to follow his (and Kropotkin’s) example and be open to perspectives from younger generations.

    For the intrepid there was the outing to a waterfall ($79.95), or lunch on an old Colonial plantation (“A Taste of Jamaica,” $99.95). A lot of people went for the plantation, which cruisers later described as rundown and serving bad food. “Jamaica is a dump!” complained Veronique Rodman, a spokeswoman for the American Enterprise Institute.

    Ah. Well. Plantations just aren’t plantations anymore. (Well, they are, but the tours aren’t as fun.)


    As Thomas downed the rest of his drink, Duane said the only way out of the current quagmire is a “revolution,” citing the famous Thomas Jefferson line about watering the tree of liberty with blood from “time to time.”

    What kind of revolution did he have in mind?

    Duane’s eyes crinkled into a big smile. “You ever heard of guns?”

    His wife sat up: “How do you like the veal?”

    “It’s awful,” Duane growled, poking at it. “I can’t hardly chew it.”

    No words.

  5. says

    Tea Party Poseidon Adventure

    I think that it could be workable. A ship full of Ayn Rand fans and libertarians suffers a disaster and the survivors have to work together to escape. Instead, they argue.

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