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Sanitized Foreign Travel
Old 02-19-2010, 07:22 AM   #1
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Sanitized Foreign Travel

Heard of Roatan's Mahogany Bay? It's the Latest Private Beach/Fake Village Built by a Cruise Line on Arthur Frommer Online

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is the latest in a growing number of commercial centers and private beaches in the Caribbean maintained by the cruise lines in an effort to channel your spending into their (the cruise lines') pockets. Heaven forbid that you should ever purchase an item from a local merchant!

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As I recently pointed out, the big Oasis of the Seas starting in June will devote every other departure to an itinerary that spends three whole days at sea and two days at private beaches or fake villages. Only on one single, solitary day will it stop at an actual Mexican port.

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Old 02-20-2010, 04:25 PM   #2
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In my experience the fake villages are better than the alternative. One exception was the San Blas Islands off the coast of Panama-very authentic. Actually seemed like they were still in the stone age.
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Old 02-20-2010, 04:53 PM   #3
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Heaven forbid that you should ever purchase an item from a local merchant!
Last time I purchased an item from a local tourist venue, the merchant asked where I'm from, I said "just up that hill." Turns out he has a whopper of a commute.

Now, you've got me thinking, RonBoyd, I do my cruising with a day pass for the local ferry boats. One of the destinations has a neat coffee shop; I'll have to take a closer look at it. How can we define authentic, anyway? Aroma? Some of the places I go could use some sanitizing.
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Old 02-20-2010, 07:34 PM   #4
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Now, you've got me thinking, RonBoyd, ... How can we define authentic, anyway? Aroma? Some of the places I go could use some sanitizing.
Just so we are on the same page: It was not my statement, it was Frommer's.

However, I suspect that it is in the same area as "Mexican" and "Chinese" restaurants here in the States. Nothing wrong with them but they shouldn't be mistaken for the "real" thing found in the respective countries.

The problem here is that if you are spending money for a "foreign experience," smoke and mirrors should not be used simply to get in your pocket -- that's fraud in my book. On the other hand, if you have no problem with that, I am cool with that also.
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Old 02-20-2010, 09:05 PM   #5
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Does someone really go on a cruise to get a "foreign experience"? Just wondering, because I would not expect that OR I would be combing the itinerary to figure out exactly the ports of call.

I've never been on a big cruise ship - just a couple of tiny ones.

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Old 02-20-2010, 09:54 PM   #6
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Audrey hit the nail on the head. There was a time when people took ocean liners to go to Europe or Asia and then tour the countries. Now we take cruises to nowhere just to experience something different.

As far taking advantage of people, what do you think the locals are doing? I've only been on one cruise, but I've been in cruise ports when the ships roll in and see what happens to the prices on everything. Once I was negotiating the price on a camera when a clerk came by and put new price cards on everything on display, including the camera I was going to buy. When I expressed concern the salesman sad not to worry "that's for the people on the cruise ship."
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Old 02-20-2010, 10:01 PM   #7
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Does someone really go on a cruise to get a "foreign experience"?
Daily maid service, a wide variety of food available 24 hours a day, multiple forms of entertainment, someone to bring you drinks anytime you want - yeah, that's definitely a "foreign experience" for this old boy.
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Old 02-20-2010, 11:33 PM   #8
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When Norwegian Cruise Lines came to Hawaii, the Jones Act forbid them from doing interisland cruises because they didn't have an American crew. So to get around that requirement they began running from the Hawaii islands down to Fanning Island. It's 600 miles south of Hawaii and part of the Republic of Kiribati.

It's an interesting but strange seven-day itinerary. You spend three days around the Hawaii islands and then make a 25-knot speed run (open ocean, too) down to Fanning. The island is just a few coconut groves and fishing vessels with a few hundred inhabitants. When NCL started showing up for weekly picnics, though, they built a school and a church and a solar-powered electrical system and rebuilt a bunch of homes/buildings and added extra storage for picnic supplies. There's the whole picnic grove along with docks for extra launches and a small-engine repair shed and a small medical facility. All the residents turn out for the arrival and most of them are working at the eight-hour day of beach-party events.

In 2003 it was just the beach activities. By 2005, however, they had an entire native-crafts swap meet going, as well as a church chorus singing for donations and a guy in an "authentic" Kiribati warrior's costume posing for pictures.

Shortly after that NCL arranged an "exemption" to the Jones Act, began crewing a couple ships with Americans, and doing "just" 7-11 day itineraries among the Hawaii islands. American crews turned out to have a few labor problems not encountered among Eastern Europeans and Southeast Asians, however, so they kept the Fanning Island itinerary for the ship with its non-American crew.

Then the recession hit. The two newer ships left for other runs in the Atlantic ports (without their American crews). I think today all that's left is the ship still making its Fanning Island run.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:26 AM   #9
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Interesting story Nords. Reminds me of the scientific principle "the very fact of observing a phenomenon will change its outcome". Forgotten what they call this but seems to apply to cruises and the concept of authenticity. Been on many cruises ( starting one next weekend) and they totally change (not for the better) the local destinations. A good example are the "colombian emerald stores" in Alaska.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:53 AM   #10
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Interesting story Nords. Reminds me of the scientific principle "the very fact of observing a phenomenon will change its outcome". Forgotten what they call this ...
Let me Google that for you:

"observing a phenomenon will change its outcome" - Google Search

or go straight to:

Heisenberg uncertainty principle
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Old 02-21-2010, 09:16 AM   #11
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I guess Disney has a patent in the US on fake villages, so the cruise lines must go off shore to have their own fakes?

The Somali pirates need a marketing person to help them: Visit Pirates' Island in the Aden Gulf! Authentic Pirates! Real Ransoms!
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Old 02-21-2010, 10:27 AM   #12
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Does someone really go on a cruise to get a "foreign experience"?
....
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Daily maid service, a wide variety of food available 24 hours a day, multiple forms of entertainment, someone to bring you drinks anytime you want - yeah, that's definitely a "foreign experience" for this old boy.
My two cent observation: I’ve never cruised but seems to me that the people I know who do, do it for the social/bonding experience with friends and relatives. It’s especially nice for women who can get away without having to create the experience as they do for Christmas, Thanksgiving, etc. Some of them use the experience to drink and bond that way. A friend complained that when the ship docked, she was the only one interested in exploring the shoreside tour which presumably was about foreign history, etc., apparently the others were hung over and disinterested in taking a hike and hearing some Spanish. I know many people who can count the number of cruises they’ve done with particular groups of friends/relatives. Five, six, or more. Princess Cruises, indeed.

In my own experience some of my fondest memories of traveling with friends/relatives was the bonding that happens over morning coffee and newspapers while waiting for everyone to get together to go somewhere or get back to the airport. The Disneyland Hotel pool area was particularly nice for that.
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Old 02-21-2010, 12:07 PM   #13
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I've cruised at least a dozen times . I really don't mind the fake beaches in the Bahamas that the ships bring in a picnic lunch to . It's usually a nice beach day . I did think Costa Maya was pretty awful . It is totally void of any Mexican experience unless you consider Taco Bell Mexican . I enjoy cruises as one of the ways to vacation and living in Florida you get incredible deals . I agree with Cuppa Joe . It's a great way for family bonding because all the work is done by someone else . I've taken several cruises with my daughter and those memories are priceless .
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Old 02-21-2010, 12:49 PM   #14
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Interesting story Nords. Reminds me of the scientific principle "the very fact of observing a phenomenon will change its outcome". Forgotten what they call this but seems to apply to cruises and the concept of authenticity. Been on many cruises ( starting one next weekend) and they totally change (not for the better) the local destinations. A good example are the "colombian emerald stores" in Alaska.
The Hawthorne effect, well known to scientific researchers and quality improvement people:
Hawthorne effect - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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Old 02-21-2010, 01:23 PM   #15
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We are headed to the Caribbean next Sunday. I don't mind the 'plastic' at all. We are going out of Galveston for a week. We have done the Caribbean twice. For us, cruise is less than $1,000. No air fair. As said before, 7 days to pig out, and enjoy the sun with no cares.
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Old 02-21-2010, 03:58 PM   #16
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I thought it might have been the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle but wasn't sure. I had never heard of the Hawthorn effect but it fits the situation as well.
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Old 02-21-2010, 08:13 PM   #17
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I've been lucky enough to go on 5 cruises - 3 Caribbean, 1 to Alaska, and 1 to the Mediterranean. I am a lazy traveler...my idea of vacation is to show up at the airport, board the ship, and then do whatever floats the boat.
I think too much when on shore, so when I "go to sea", thinking needs to be very simplistic. I do not run around trying to make every single scheduled event. I find the pool, the least used food areas, keep my onboard card with me, and relax. I love the ocean and get a lot of enjoyment just watching the waves go by.

As always, to each their own...
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Old 02-22-2010, 07:08 AM   #18
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I thought it might have been the Heisenberg Uncertainty Principle but wasn't sure................
You mean you were uncertain?
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:32 AM   #19
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Taking a 7 day Caribbean cruise is probably the wrong format if you are trying to "go local", mingle with the natives, and spend time in the country you are visiting. From the 2 cruises I have taken, on the mass market cruise ships you have roughly 6-8 hours of actual time in port in general. You can do an excursion or two. Not a lot of time in other words.

We did actually "go local" a little while on St Martin/Maarten. Took a little combi/collectivo type of volkswagen minibus from the port in the dutch side across the whole island to the french side. We sat next to mostly locals. Walked around the French side's port, did a little shopping, and it was time to go. On the return trip, the bus was full of local school children who had just been let out of school. But that is about as local and real as you can get in a typical 8 hr port visit.

We liked the private island on Norwegian in the Bahamas. No touts selling tours, knick knacks, etc. I at least perceived the private island to be safer from threats of petty left and pickpocketing. It was just a nice day at the beach with music, bbq food, dancing, sun, sand. In December, with two very young kids and some older relatives. We left the cruise ship in a tender boat/ferry type vessel, and disembarked directly onto the beach where we relaxed all day.

From our limited experience cruising, we pretty much determined that the ports of call were of secondary importance. The ship amenities, departure port, and price were of primary importance. Cruising is a good way to get a glimpse at a local destination that you may not want to spend a whole week at otherwise.
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Old 02-22-2010, 09:32 AM   #20
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I enjoy going on a cruise but cruise ship destinations haven't been about the destinations in a long time. When we want to visit another country we make a trip to that country.
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