Even before summer vacation season began in earnest, our Sea-Mail in-box was full to bursting from soon-to-be passengers already anxious about this deadly force: Kids on cruises.
Rick Giannini’s plea to Sea-Mail was a tad more moderate than most. “I understand that cruises are family vacations, and that there are going to be passengers on board that leave a lasting impression on you (drunk loud people at dinner, etc.), but I really would appreciate the cruise lines to enforce their rules and regulations for all passengers so that the trip is enjoyable for all onboard.”
It says a lot about the rapid transformation of cruise travel that its traditional demographic (essentially described in a somewhat revolting manner as the “nearly dead and newly wed”) now revolves around young travelers quite some distance from voting age. Certainly we’ve seen it onboard as cruise lines ramp up their family-friendly options with hard-to-resist features like cartoon characters from Disney’s Mickey to Royal Caribbean’s Shrek, deck space given over to activities such as surfing and water slides rather than aqua aerobics and hairy chest contests, and kids camps that rival, if not exceed, ship’s spa facilities in size.
In fact, the very existence of so-called “adults-only” areas, like Princess’ Sanctuary and Carnival’s Serenity, would have been unheard of a couple of decades ago when children-at-sea were a rarity and all spaces onboard were already assumed to be adult-only in orient.
But here’s the rub: It’s one thing for cruise lines to adapt to this powerful new travel constituency and quite another to pander to it by turning a blind eye to egregious behavior. Factor in the additional complication of parental responsibility. Sea-Mail correspondent Ilene Karp doesn’t mince words. “I stopped going to the pool because of the inconsiderate and ignorant parents who think their little princesses and princes can do no wrong.”
Would you agree, then, that the real problem is that there’s no clear definition on whose fault it really is when bratty kids run amok on a cruise ship? In a terse note to Sea-Mail, Unhappy Diner sums it up:
“We were at a late sitting for dinner (8:30 p.m.) in the main dining room and a family group of about 6 adults and one child about 18 months old in a high chair emitted loud screeching noises every few minutes every night. What should have been done and by whom?”
You tell us.
Have a blood-boiling pet peeve you want to see addressed via Sea-Mail? Send your question to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Get all the facts on cruising with kids, including a planning primer, on our Family Cruises page..
Read other Sea-Mail columns on the morality of saving tables in buffet, the death of cruise traditions and bad balcony behavior.
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