The publicity machine of Royal Caribbean Cruises is currently churning out all sorts of exciting press releases about their brand-new, 5,500-passenger, mega-ship called the Harmony of the Seas, that will go into service in 2016.
The humongous vessel will have every conceivable device to entertain its passengers: three lengthy water slides along its top deck. Six different "neighborhoods" for shopping and fun. A robotic bartender. Multiple main dining rooms to which guests will alternate for their meals. And every facility for every sport other than horse-racing (there wasn't enough space for the stables).
Since the obvious purpose of this overall design is to create an amusement park crammed into a condensed resort hotel, a structure in which the total emphasis is on what's taking place aboard the ship, I'm asking why it's necessary for that vessel to go to sea? Why don't the people at Royal Caribbean simply anchor it to a pier, to remain without moving for a week at a time, never braving the stormy ocean. Would any passengers know the difference?
I'm completely serious. Think of the savings. If the ship simply remained motionless, there would be enormous economies in terms of fuel. There would be no need for an experienced Captain or First Officer, or a large number of crew members manning the engine room or performing other maritime duties. Instead of generating its own electrical power, the ship would simply hook up to a cheap power outlet in the city where it's stationed. There would be no port fees to pay to various Caribbean islands. No need to pick up fee-charging pilots to navigate the ship into various ports. With the savings I envision, the cruise line could charge as little as $150 per passenger for a seven-night "cruise" and still make a substantial profit.
And the "passengers", free of concern about becoming seasick, would happily spend their week in the ship's casino, or on the water slides, or watching movies, or eating in multiple dining rooms, or working out in the gym or basketball court (some of the new ships have basketball courts!), or happily careening from place to place in the bumper cars that--believe or not--one of the cruise ships has installed on its upper deck. Without leaving their areas of fun, guests could substitute travelogue-movies for the artificial experience of cramming themselves into 40-passenger motorcoaches for tours of various port cities.
My modest proposal would simply take advantage of an unmistakable trend in cruising. The passenger-ship industry has been straining, in recent years, to eliminate the factor of travel from cruising, let alone the factor of foreign travel. Their emphasis has been on what goes on aboard the ship. They have vied with one another to add one-after-another of entertainment facilities designed to keep the passenger happy while enclosed in a giant steel box, creating such pleasure that many of them don't even leave the ship to visit a seaside port. And as for the simple enjoyment of the vast expanses of the sea, that used to be a reward of ocean travel, who thinks of the sea when there are umpty-ump entertainments to sample?
My modest proposal is offered without charge to the moguls who now operate the multi-billion-dollar cruise ship industry. Though my idea will make them untold additional billions of profit, my reward will be an end to hypocrisy. As one ship after another becomes an amusement park, why go to sea?