This is what I think

Indulgence posted 6 May 2019

It is indulgence personified to live for over a month on a luxury cruise. We need think of nothing or anything. If we do, we only have to ask and our wants are met.  More this. Less that. Some more wine sir? Can I carry that for you? Don’t do that,  let me do it for you.

Our crew live lives devoted to our every want. At the crack of dawn the last person you saw the previous evening is willing and ready to serve you again. Their days are busy and broken into short shifts. In those prime moments they tell me they ring their boyfriends, do their washing, play Xbox, eat and sleep. 

Most of the staff are on a revolving 4 month contract. The only people I have heard with longer contacts are those working in the galley for 6 months. In the first two months their only job is to clean plates. They separate waste into categories for destruction, recycling, reusing etc. night and day. The next 2 months they simply load and unload dishwashers. Finally in the last third of their contract they stack and sort all cutlery, crockery, and kitchen equipment.

On this ship staff come from all continents, all nationalities, and probably every personality type know to man. Their dress indicates their station on the ship. Strangely, despite this being a commercial line it is run on naval lines with military insignia apparent on the officers and key crew members. This probably makes for efficiency and helps to reduce crew costs I suppose. But it does seem a trifle militaristic.

Those staff members who have contact with guests, (the rest of us are guests, even if some are guest entertainers or presenters),  are personable and efficient. Those with jobs not obviously requiring guest acknowledgement do their work almost invisibly, and anonymously. If anyone hates their job they mask their hatred well.

For us guests everything is designed for our indulgence. Some of the guests are impossibly demanding and, depending perhaps on their nationality, rude. When they are, other passengers shun them as a sign of disapproval.

Indulgence means different things to different people. The aged academic who likes to be called Dr Ursula, told me she could afford to travel for months at a time on board the ship and did not seem to need for much. However she confessed her indulgence happens in the dining room.  Staff always seated her at a hosted table at night because they knew she was traveling alone. She is a  good conversationalist but was finding it a little difficult in the busy restaurant to follow each speaker.

Harri on the other hand is fifty five. Single. He is a just retired banker. He is enjoying not wearing a business suit all day, learning bridge and playing Trivial Pursuit. Katherine is the twenty something Welsh nightclub singer. She and her guitarist partner  have just bought a home in Manchester. For her it is an indulgence to not have to travel each night all over the country.  They are working longer hours and not earning less being here.  Yet it suits them to have none of the daily costs of home.

Beth and Jeff are both pilots flying domestic routes in the US. This cruise is some together time they miss because of their work. Their fur baby is missing out but  these get aways take much planning. “Jeff has it all on spreadsheet so we know what we are doing.” 

Many are seasoned travelers on board and they like things to be easy for them their wants are reasonably easily met. Their lizard like skin tells the story of too much time lazing around the pool drinking cocktails. Their life is indulgence personified. Yet it all pales into insignificance when compared to those who live in absolute consumption.

Take the Indian mogul of Mumbai who aims to be the wealthiest man in India. His wife and he live in the tallest multi storey home in the city. Not just in an apartment but the entire 22 stories. It has two heliports on the roof. Multiple car parking places, cinemas etc. (You can find this information online). They live in this house with only one of their three children and 600 servants.

Or, take our wonderful Sultan. He has this multi storey palace in Muscat. A home in the country and not one, but two yachts docked at the port as big as this ship carrying 600 passengers. He has never been aboard the 4 year old new yacht but he is so generous he has donated the old boat to the navy. Just as the best hotel in the city of Muscat  has a whole floor set aside for his use if he ever decides to stay. “He is so good. He has given us a new opera house. The largest, possibly in the world, all clad in Italian marble, just so we can hear the wonderful music of our country.” Said our guide.

The 0.01% who live like this across the globe cannot be satisfied knowing just across the country someone else has more. Having more, consuming more, more, more, is a burden I am sure. It is best relieved by total commitment to consumption. Give me the seven deadly sins any day. Well, actually I don’t mean this literally even if I have the time left to fit it all in. I have left it too late.

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