Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Disney Cruise Discoveries #1-3

My wife and children and I recently returned from a four-night Disney Cruise, where we traveled from Florida to the Bahamas and back. Henceforth are a collection of semi-random discoveries inspired by the experience.

DISCOVERY #1:
Disney Cruises aren’t ideal for adults... but they are very very good for parents

Having arrived on board straight from a stretch of days in New Orleans on the annual Man-odyssey, the first night of scheduled events led me to believe the possibility of wild nights might continue aboard the Disney Magic.

In the "adults only" bar, an evening episode of “Match Your Mate” (copycat of The Newlywed Game) would be followed by a couple hours of music from a DJ and ample space for dancing. My wife, too exhausted from the drive down and recovering from a stomach bug, couldn’t make it, but I wanted to see what this cruise would offer us as a couple, so I went down solo, fully intending to be a casual observer rather than an active participant.

Once the three couples selected to participate in the game show had been removed from the audience, what remained was perhaps two dozen people and half a dozen staffers. The game show itself was quite enjoyable and worthy of a stiff drink. When the game concluded, the host invited everyone out to the floor to dance the night away with some great music, and the crowd promptly stood... and walked right out the door. Dang place emptied faster than Neyland Stadium after a loss to Vanderbilt. Alas, that game show was, easily, the highest-attended adults-only post-10 p.m. event of the whole cruise.

IT was clear the cruise wasn’t built for adults. But it was built for parents. It makes good parents happy, and it covers for bad parents.

First, you have to pay a premium for Wi-Fi, creating more than enough reason to abandon all social media for you and your kids. Right there, you’ve re-opened a door to human connection.

If you’re an attentive parent who craves active time with your child(ren), the options are plentiful. Dance parties and meet-and-greets with the mascots. Broadway-esque musical performances. Pools and arcades, basketball and leisure sports. You can spend as much quality time as you could possibly desire with your precious tots.

However, if you’re the kind of parent who doesn’t derive joy from kid time -- and let’s just admit these types exist and that most of us will never know which kind we are until it’s too late to do anything about it -- you are getting every penny’s worth from a Disney Cruise. You can drop your kid off with the hap hap happiest babysitters in the world after breakfast, and these wonderful young people will entertain your kid and others in their age group through lunch and even dinner. Your child can have legitimate day camp-like quality adult attentiveness and peer fun for more than 12 straight hours while you drink yourself into oblivion. This isn’t a joke or me mocking bad parents. I seriously can think of few better ways for parents who don’t like their kids but can afford to do nice things for them to spend time with their children. Sure, the best thing would be to become involved parents, but who are we kidding?

DISCOVERY #2:
Motion sickness and control issues are siblings

Psychologically and genetically, I can’t prove this, but anecdotally the people I know most prone to control issues -- especially regarding travel -- are the ones most prone to motion sickness. The people who get most nervous when others are driving, the people who have the biggest fear of flying, these are the people most likely to get sick on a ship. I’m perfectly at ease in the passenger seat of any car, in any cramped seat -- window or aisle -- anywhere on a plane. That I had no troubles with the motion of the ocean isn’t surprising. Meanwhile, my wife struggled mightily on the open water. She’s also fidgety as a car passenger and hates flying. My mother has such motion sickness issues she wouldn’t even consider going in the first place. This isn’t some hidden statement about my being surrounded by women with control issues; it’s merely the closest two anecdotes in my back pocket. I’ve got more though. I swear.

DISCOVERY #3:
That damn missing plane is our Albatross

For eight days, I was all but removed from the world. For five days, I had almost no connection to news from the outside world had limited access to the Internet. When we returned to dry land and Florida, eased into our car and started the engine, the very first thing to greet us on NPR was… the same f*#king GD overplayed story that occupied the airwaves before I disappeared. A single missing airplane. With absolutely nothing more known than when I dropped off the radar eight days prior.

We have geopolitical powder kegs simmering all over this wonderful world of ours, with potential implications we can’t even begin to predict or appreciate, but who cares about that nonsense so long as we can play our own live-action version of CSI and Sherlock vicariously through journalists?

As a culture, we will not lift ourselves from the endless intellectual slope down which we gradually roll until we can stop obsessing about what is, relatively speaking on a global scale, trivial. Missing planes. Murdered child beauty queens. Serial shark attacks. When these get more airtime than geopolitical actions easily comparable to the assassination of an archduke, we’re losing our cultural sanity.

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