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Perceptions of Who You Will Cruise With – You Usually Will Be Surprised. (The Slipknot Experience)

Last year was a bit of disappointment for me. I went to a Jimmy Buffett concert expecting a great crowd of laid back partiers. Instead I saw a bunch of overweight and over-the-hill people that I could not conceive of ever having been “wasted away in Margaritaville”.

Then I went to a Bruce Springsteen concert and, if you saw Bruce during the Super Bowl halftime show, you know he puts on a heck of a show! Again, rather than a rockin’ crowd I found myself surrounded by old, rythm-challenged, folks who most definitely knew every word to “Sandy”, but never lived the romance and struggles they spoke of…or even understood them. I decided that I could no longer pay a small fortune to go to a rock concert and come away, in part, depressed…even if Bruce was going to put on another awesome show.

Saturday night I took my son and his friend to a Slipknot concert. (http://www.slipknot1.com/ ). You would think that this heavy metal, rather violent-looking, band would have had the rowdiest, troublemaking, fans in the world. Instead the crowd was enthusiastic and incredibly well-mannered; not just well-behaved. This with music that was the loudest I have ever heard, with words that were disturbing, and personas that – at least to this old guy – seemed to stress defeatism and violence. (Ironically, I think the message is actually the opposite…but I have to ponder that some more retropsectively looking at the words and persona of my youth’s music: Hendrix, Crosby Stills & Nash, etc..)

As an added “bonus” the concert was in Camden, New Jersey – one of the most blighted places in America. But what I found was actually a very nice venue that I would readily return to (albeit exists as an oasis and got outta there as quickly as I could).

So what does this have to do with cruising? Well, it has more to deal with people’s preconceived ideas of who will be on a Seabourn cruise or a Celebrity cruise or a Carnival cruise. I am not talking about what the cruise product is, but rather who the people are.

I receive phone calls and emails concerned about who is going to be on a Seabourn cruise. Are the formal? Cliquish? Impressed with themselves? While I would love to say that everyone is wonderful, the fact is that each and every cruise is different. But there is an overall reality which is far different than the perception. On Seabourn you will not know if the person next to you is wealthy or taking a once-in-a-lifetime cruise. People will laugh and actually wear shorts (though never at dinner).

I also read on certain message boards (especially Cruise Critic) how children should not be allowed or will be bored to tears on various luxury lines. This is not because the posters actually know the children will be bored, but rather their prejudice that children = disruptive behavior. This is especially rampant on the Regent Seven Seas boards; presumably because Regent has a children’s program (and, ironically, it is generally quite good). I know, with my children having been on well over 20 cruises, and my having taken well over 30, that the problems more times than not, lie with adults. I have seen far more inappropriate behavior on cruises with no children on board than with them. Adults who are rude, loud, fall down drunk, pushy…even putting bubble bath in whirlpools.

Now, while it is true that historically you will find a far different level of sophistication and/or manners on short Carnival or NCL cruise than on a longer luxury cruise, it remains true that I will never forget being forced out of the casino area on a Regent ship (as were many others) for virtually the entire cruise as a result of a drunk passenger. How could this be? My other Regent cruises had nothing of the sort.

Neither will I forget the flare and elegant service coupled with a gourmet dining experiences I received repeatedly in the Olympic Restaurant on the Celebrity Millennium…meals which I remember in far greater detail than any luxury line dinners.

So before you turn your nose up at a particular cruise line because of pre-judging, take a moment…and think of Slipknot.

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