Thursday, December 6, 2012

Travel Blogging V

Charlotte Amalie, St. Thomas, Virgin Islands: Today there were six (6) cruise ships in this port. These ranged in size from the huge Oasis of the Seas to the relatively small Maasdam, our Emerald Princess being in the middle.

I have no idea what the population of this island is normally. If each of these ships brought, on average, 3000 pax to this sunny isle, we cruisers briefly added 18,000 souls to the total.

The hope is that each of these 18,000 spends loads of money here. I believe this is a hope that is not fulfilled.

For reasons unknown to me, the marketing of jewelry is a big deal anywhere cruise ships land. Perhaps cruise pax are concentrations of people who’ve demonstrated having spare thousands of dollars to spend on themselves.

Jewelry marketing is particularly big in the Caribbean and along the Alaskan coast. There are jewelry firms which have summer-only outlets in Alaska cruise ports in addition to outlets down here in the islands and they move personnel back and forth.

Don’t believe cruise ship TV ads, the view around the ship’s pool is not pretty. Cruise pax are not slender or trim; overweight or obese describes most of us. Recreational eating is the major entertainment offered aboard.

We pax aren’t young, either. The question around the dinner table isn’t “What do you do?” Instead it is “What did you do?” The presumption is that one is retired, although a few are still working. Heck, most of us are spending our kids’ inheritance, if we even had kids.

Something I notice about islands where the British colonial heritage persists. It is nice to be able to read the signage. It is surprising how much friendlier that makes a place feel.

Of course when you try to converse with locals, you discover that their version of English is heavily accented. They understand you from watching thousands of hours of American and Brit TV shows, you may not understand their island patois.

During supper our ship captain made a tannoy announcement about our course and speed over the next 24 hours. His native tongue is Italian and we could understand roughly one word in three of his heavily accented English.

All official announcements on this ship line are made in English, often heavily accented. I wonder how well crew members understand each other?

The other DrC and I joke that someday soon the whole world will communicate (badly) in broken English. I suppose the Roman empire had the same problem – thick regional accents messing with the Rome version of Latin.