In 1997, like many girls my age, I had never been on a cruise, and I was completely obsessed with Leonardo DiCaprio. Fifteen years later, after my seventh cruise and fifth trip to the theater to see “Titanic,” I’m struck by how much has changed.
Back then, I wanted to scream at Rose to scoot the heck over and make some room for my future husband on that piece of driftwood. This time, I found myself turning my hostility toward the gold “collector’s edition” 3D glasses that had given me a throbbing headache for three hours. But, most of all, instead of wondering what it would be like to set sail, I couldn’t help but focus on how far cruising has come since 1912.
Let’s start with the fact that Jack was able to hop onboard a mere five minutes before sailaway with tickets he won in a poker game immediately prior. Long gone are the days when bookings were transferable. Plus, I’m pretty sure he didn’t fill out health forms, there were no security personnel to confiscate the pocket knife carried by his buddy Fabrizio, and I’m fairly certain hand sanitizer wasn’t offered to either of them at the end of the gangway. That’s just Norovirus waiting to happen.
Now we’ll address the issue of steerage class. Sure, there are still present-day separations between passengers in inside cabins and those in suites, but just because your stateroom doesn’t have a butler doesn’t mean it should have rats. And just imagine what would happen today if windowless accommodations meant you couldn’t eat in the main dining room like everyone else.
To me, the most obvious differences, however, are the size of the ship and the lack of lifeboats. Titanic was a behemoth in its day, but did you know that Allure of the Seas (currently the largest passenger ship afloat) is about five times Titanic’s size? And somehow, magically, it manages to carry enough lifeboats for all of its more than 5,000 passengers.
Finally, given the recent Costa Concordia tragedy, I’m reminded that things like life jackets and muster drills have drastically improved, but I wish the same could be said for the honor of the captains involved. (To recap: J. Bruce Ismay, chairman and managing director of White Star Line, encouraged retiring Captain E.J. Smith to sail at full speed in spite of the ice warnings by convincing him he could end his career with a bang if he got Titanic to New York a day earlier than scheduled. On Concordia, Captain Francesco Schettino brought the ship too close to land in order to salute a friend on shore.) Both were showboating to the detriment of their vessels, but only one — Smith, who was reportedly seen saving a baby before Titanic sank — actually went down with his ship.
As for the movie itself, I wasn’t blown away by the 3D effects or the $13-per-matinee-ticket price tag (tickets for later shows were $15), something else that’s changed dramatically over the years. If you’ve never seen it in the theater before, you may want to give it a go; otherwise, add it to your Netflix queue, and call it a day.
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