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Carnival Triumph – A Trauma for the Underbelly

February 16, 2013

To hear the tales of woe emanating from the passengers of the Carnival Triumph cruise liner marooned in the Gulf of Mexico for the past few days, you would think they had just escaped from the Titanic.

Blocked toilets, defecating in bags – OMG! Cold food for three days – disaster!! Sleeping on deck – horror!!! No mobile coverage – unthinkable!!!!

There are times when I miss the old stiff upper lip. If only someone had come off that liner and said “well, it was getting a bit rank down below, but hey, I was at Woodstock, and you wouldn’t have wanted to be less than half a mile away from the trenches we had to use there.” Or maybe “sleeping on deck? Made a change from those boring cabins. And there’s nothing like a bit of adversity for making new friends.” Or even “I’ll put up with all kinds of crap for a refund, $500 and a free cruise…”

But of course that wouldn’t have been very newsworthy, would it?

I suppose it’s been a threadbare week for disasters. Real disasters, like Chernobyl, Sandy and the Japanese tsunami, would have made the plight of the Carnival Triumph a non-story.

It seems to me that humanity today is divided into people who have known life-threatening hardship and those who haven’t. Some have known war, famine and natural disasters. For others, the height of adversity has been a blocked toilet on a cruise ship

I will freely admit that I am from the latter half. I’ve just come back from a ridiculously lazy holiday in Thailand, spent mostly eating, reading and writing. My saving grace was my wife, who insisted that we swim lengths on the pool twice a day, and curbed my instinct for a second croissant at breakfast and a large lunch before an equally large dinner. Had she not done so, I would have looked even more like the human whales flopped around the pool with their iPads and suncream.

I, and the other overweight baby boomers jostling each other over the food counter in Thailand and waddling off the cruise liner, have had a soft life. At least our bodies have, even if our minds have been warped by the stresses and neuroses of the late 20th century and the nervous noughties.

Our parents and grandparents, especially those brought up in the US, the UK and continental Europe, endured an economic depression, followed by a world war that is beyond our imagination no matter how many documentaries we watch and history books we read. Those who suffered the most tend to talk the least about their experiences.

For the other half, the 20th century was one of continual adversity and physical hardship. A couple of years ago I went on a ten-day cruise of the Holy Land and the southern Mediterranean. There were many ethnic groups on board. The majority were westerners very similar to those who could be seen disembarking from the Carnival Triumph. But there was also a large group of South Koreans. Very few of them were overweight. On average they were several inches shorter than the other passengers. Many of them were bent, bow legged and walked with a shuffle rather than a stride. An older generation with hardship, and possibly malnutrition, imprinted on their bodies.

Something tells me that if true adversity returns to the West, we will roll over, moaning about unsanitary defecation, cold food and a shortage of antiseptic wet wipes.

The other half is made of sterner stuff.

From → Social, Travel, UK, USA

  1. It was sad for Carnival Passengers – they ended up in Mobile, Alabama – a spoof! –

  2. Aaron Maree permalink

    I could not agree more..CNN had mothers from shore talking to their 9 and ten year old daughters on board , both were scared for their survival, but why were the girls of that age on a cruise for 5 days anyway ? THe Poor Passengers, but don’t forget 1500 crew would not have been allowed up on deck !! Allowed in the corridors below Deck A and Deck B perhaps but they still kept working 1hour days to feed the “pampered loafs” called passengers. CNN and other news agencies sometimes make me proud with their coverage but the time dedicated to this over the past 5 days disgusted me and gave the passengers far too much time to dramatize something that at best was a messy inconvenience but not the horrifying disaster they tried to make it out to be..Humans can truly overplay their hand sometimes and make everyone look like idiots….Well Spoken Steve, glad you have a forum whereby you can speak the truth and remind us all to toughen up. As we fast approach 8 billion people on earth and when we consider that one day something will come to wipe a good portion of us out to resettle the balance of the planet, it is easy to see from the Cruise mishap this past week, that it won’t take much at all to do it.

    • Thanks Aaron

      I think also that the media enjoy feeding on the hygiene fixation of the average American (and Brit for that matter). The discomfiture on the Carnival Triumph will have been worse for passengers who are used to showering twice a day and who cover every surface of their homes with antiseptic cleaning agents. Fear of dirt is destroying natural immunity, leaving us allergy-prone and damaging our environment, not to mention consuming vast quantities of water.

      Not only have we become soft, but physically more vulnerable….


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