The dark side of cruises

People seem to like going on cruises since it is apparently a rapidly growing business, despite some recent horror stories of norovirus outbreaks on the boats. From what I can tell from the advertisements, these things are a floating combination of hotels and amusement parks. But in the latest episode of his show Patriot Act, Hasan Minhaj says that underneath all the gaiety and laughter, the business model of these companies is based on ruthless exploitation of labor, dumping of waste into the environment, and a massive amount of greenhouse gas emissions, combined with careful avoidance of any responsibility for anything that might go wrong on board, including sexual assault.

Given my slightly introverted nature, I think I would not find cruises enjoyable. Being constantly surrounded by large numbers of people who are determined to have a good time 24/7 and get the maximum benefit from the limited time on board would wear me out pretty quickly. I would likely retreat to my cabin for long periods of time, which would defeat the purpose of going on a cruise.


  1. rockwhisperer says

    Several years ago, my mom-in-law had a stroke on board an Alaskan cruise. The doctor on board misdiagnosed her, and she was sent back to her cabin with aspirin. At the ship’s regular stop the following day, she went to a clinic (there was no hospital) and the staff there practically had a collective fit. At that point, there was no particularly helpful medical intervention, so they simply sent my in-laws home to California.

    Mom lost motor control, not enough to inhibit gross mobility but definitely enough to disrupt fine mobility like hand motions. Her doctors at home were convinced that the ship’s doctor willfully misdiagnosed her to avoid having to change the ship’s itinerary or have her airlifted to a hospital at the cost of a cruise line, but of course none of them would go on record saying that. They work for a very large clinic/hospital system, and who knows what trouble they could get into?

    I used to dream of going on cruises. Now not at all, not ever.

  2. Trickster Goddess says

    I live a few blocks away from a cruise ship port so I frequently see the ships up close. They are huge, rising more than 15 storeys above the waterline and often carry more 6000 passengers each. It’s basically a floating small city. Inside there are casinos, movie theatres, shopping malls, bowling alleys and all sorts of diversions. All the kinds of things you can do back home, except you are doing them on a boat. In windowless rooms. Which seems to be antithetical to the main reason for signing up for a scenic cruise.

  3. Holms says

    The idea of a cruise is that you are at a holiday resort that also travels to places. I’ve been on one, and it was pleasant enough though not really my thing.

  4. Mano Singham says


    What a terrible story and I am so sorry for your mother-in-law. It is also consistent with the problems Minhaj pointed out, that the cruise lines sacrifice passenger safety for profits, to the extent that the swimming pools have no lifeguards, even though children are all around.

    [p.s. I corrected the ‘never’ to ‘ever’.]

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