My Cruise and Green Bananas

Unlike my husband, I was not in love with our cruise.

Don’t get me wrong. Everything was done beautifully. A beautiful boat, a beautiful cabin that included daily fresh fruit … great food, great service, many activities … Norway was simply beautiful, but…

Something is wrong with me. I know that because five of my friends told me so! 

· I don’t like to be so indulged, and apparently it makes me weird.

· I don’t like waiters hovering over me like I’m the Queen of England, and I guess that makes me strange.

· I don’t like to feel that the staff is anxious to please me, and I guess it makes me different.

For example, and speaking of ‘daily fresh fruit’: While walking in the passageway, I jokingly said to our cabin-attendant that our bananas were green. I thought it was funny! I almost started singing to him “no, we have no bananas, we have no bananas today.” A real comedienne…

… You would have thought I killed his mother.

He started apologizing profusely, explaining that these were the bananas they received today, and that he is going to go back to the kitchen to see if they received ripe bananas.

… I just hated myself.

Attempting to lower his blood-pressure, I told him we have hundreds of bananas upstairs in the buffet; that I can have as many bananas as I want. He didn’t seem to be consoled. He kept on insisting that he would fix the situation, despite my loud protestations.

Later when my husband came to the cabin, he brought with him some ripe bananas. Wondering about the banana theme, he explained that the cabin attendant stopped him and gave him bananas for me!

And, that’s why I didn’t like the cruise.

And, not to mention seeing all the dining room staff- mostly from third world countries, looking on as passengers wasted enough food to feed their home town..

And formal nights. (See separate rant … I mean, Blog.)

And, for 12 days I was treated by the staff like I had the power to affect their destiny. This is not the power I want.

And lest you think I’m overreacting, I’d like you to know that there are cruise lines who fire their employees the minute their approval rates fall below 92%!

I assume that I’m in the minority, because my friends invariably squeal, “Oh, how I love to be indulged,” and look at me with pity in their eyes. Others patiently explain that if it weren’t for the cruise, the staff would be unemployed and then they’d probably be starving somewhere – i.e., “What is wrong with you?!? Don’t you realize that you’re actually helping them?”

Jewish guilt? Socialist indoctrination? Feeling undeserving, I try to touch on culture, politics and psychology in one swoop…

Choose one of the above, or feel free to add more. I just don’t know.


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About rachel bar

Psychotherapist and supervisor.
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13 Responses to My Cruise and Green Bananas

  1. Dale says:

    Oy. Just a reminder – you were on a higher level of cruise line than we usually travel. But with that said – you are who you are. Can I assume you do not like “organized” or group tours? If we talk further, I feel your writings would be in line with our feelings as well. Here’s what we do on our cruises – just to ease your unease of the “third world” staff. Barbara engages the waiter & assistant in conversation about their “home life” and finds out about their “dreams” which from our many cruises does provide them with the opportunity to reach those dreams (and compared with the earning power at home – provides security for a larger family at home). So give it another try – you won’t be a virgin this time! Accept the compliments (as best you can) and see the power you have to possibly change a person’s life. Mazel tov.

  2. David Silber says:

    The piece is well-written and the humor-like mine: I too would have sung the “got no bananas”song. If they can’t take a joke,you know how it goes. My wife would have cracked up about the “no bananas” jingle. Folks from third world countries just don’t appreciate American culture like I do. So kudos to you for having a sense of humor! Don’t worry about being placed on any “black list” for unwelcome cruisers. What counts is your sense of good humor-nothing to feel guilty about. Maybe I can convince my wife to take a Scandinavian cruise with me. We loved the fjords on our Alaska cruise. I’m going to pass along your story to our cousin, Max, who was a cruiseship pianobar entertainer. Max writes humorous songs about cruiseship passengers and their crazy antics.

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks, David. I think it was the other way around. I didn’t expect the attendant to get my humor, after all how can he be familiar with it? I expect of myself to be more sensitive to him. And… Norway is beautiful.

  3. Barbara Cooper says:

    As someone who worked on cruise ships as an entertainer, I can tell you that yes, those little survey cards you are asked to fill out at the end of the cruise are taken very seriously by corporate. And a lower rating on any service you received is dealt with by dismissal. Including the entertainers. And I’m not just talking about the shows they performed. The entertainers are considered staff and as such are given a multitude of rules they must follow. They must always be ‘on’ in their clothing, demeanor and behavior. They must always be dressed appropriately, but not too well as we can’t make the patrons feel intimidated. (You’ll love this) Make up must be worn at all times! You must interact with the passengers and always be charming. Such pressure! On the other hand, none of the staff is forced to be there, they are there because they want to be. They usually have a “people pleaser” nature and so being of service comes naturally. They get paid to see the world. So if they have to deal with passengers who are uncomfortable with them “just doing their jobs”, well so be it. Tipping is mandatory from the entertainers to the wait staff, and if I remember correctly, is encouraged from the passengers. So there is your opportunity to assuage your Jewish guilt and enjoy being pampered and indulged. Thank those who do the pampering with your money and a smile of appreciation. That and giving high rating is all you need to do. Everyone enjoys being praised for a job well done. How easy is that? Then, for goodness sake, relax and enjoy the cruise. You paid for the vacation and the cruise line is giving you service for that payment. It’s really no different then staying in a fine hotel or dining at an expensive restaurant. Does your Jewish guilt flare up at those experiences? And FYI, don’t call it a boat! It’s a ship, and the employees take umbrage at the word boat. I can’t tell you how many times I was corrected for this faux pas!

    • rachel bar says:

      Yes, Barbara, I did tip quite generously, on top of the tip that is charged from each passenger on the SHIP. The difference between the ship and a fine hotel is that there is less hovering.

  4. Margot says:

    Rachel, I feel exactly as you do! I hate the gluttony, I hate the waste, I hate that the waiters have to not only serve you but entertain you as well. (On a cruise I was on many years ago the waiters had to sing as they brought in the Baked Alaska.) I frequently felt sad on the cruise because it was a reminder of what has to be sacrificed (dignity?) to support your family when you come from a have-not country.

  5. Maurice Labi says:

    One of your better blogs. While you were floating, you had a sinking feeling, not uncommon when First World travelers come in contact (collide?) with Third World help. Passengers want their money’s worth. Waiters and cabin-attendants want their jobs (and your tips at the end of the voyage). To them it’s an endless cycle of ports-of-call, endless white faces who want coffee with skim milk, peanut-butter ice cream, and mile-long midnight buffets. For someone who performs at 50% approval, I would have been thrown overboard to swim with the fish. Tonight’s dinner special: Halibut wrapped in green banana peels.

  6. Martha Carr says:

    Rachel – I love your blog and although I have never been on a large cruise-ship, I can identify with your experience which you portray so vividly! Honestly, after reading it, it is much easier to accept the idea that I might not ever do it (well, except perhaps one day to Alaska.)
    This is why Richard thinks the only cruise-ship I should go on is his sailboat where I would have to scrub the decks and fish for my dinner! Perhaps that is more to your liking?:)) Just kidding! There will likely be no bananas at all except when we are in port! My cousin’s daughter currently sings on a cruise-ship and she loves pleasing people and is soooo happy to be doing what she wants and spending the days between cruises on the beaches of Cozumel! But she is 23 and just discovering life!

  7. Diana says:

    You are NOT strange. I felt the exact same way when I took my cruise. I also spent some time at a lovely resort in Kenya. Same thing. I felt guilt just sitting there while staff members worked so hard so I could have the luxury of doing nothing. I did my best to tip generously, but it felt wrong to lay in a cabana in the shade while a staff member stood in the sun just waiting to light my cigarette or get me a refreshing drink. So maybe we are the normal ones. Maybe we should remind people that their “indulgences” come at a price to another. Although you and I both know humans are creatures of self indulgence. And are unlikely to change. 😦

    • rachel bar says:

      Thanks for your comment, Diana. From your dad’s comments I’ve figured that we must have some things in common. It’s nice to know that I’m not strange!

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