March 15th, 2014

Inner cruising

I’ve seen a couple of these Princess Cruise ads on TV, and they really drew my attention. I think they’re brilliant, actually.

In a rut? The ads sell the company’s cruises as a way to get out of that rut, not by visiting new places in the usual travel sense, but through a more internal journey that involves renewing relationships in a relaxing and luxurious atmosphere. It’s the theme and variations rather than the symphony.

That some of the ads may be quite obnoxious is of little import. The husbands or wives of a certain age, archly studying their long-term spouses in the shipboard light as though they were prize heifers and deciding they’re not so tedious after all, might strike the viewer as repugnant. But the demographic that might be expected to go on cruises may feel otherwise, and the idea of interpersonal renewal may be a good part of the reason.

Princess Cruises is certainly counting on it being part of the reason, and willing to spend quite a bit of money to prove it. It’s a new twist on the idea of a shipboard romance—this time, you’ll be having a romance with the person you’re already with, who’ll seem like a new person.

One who knows how to order wine, for example. This particular ad rubs me the wrong way for all the stated reasons and probably a few more besides, but I continue to think it’s masterful:

Here’s a similar ad with the sexes reversed:

Similar, and yet different, and not just because the couple is younger in the second ad. The woman in the first ad is admiring her slightly-graying guy because of his behavior—he’s such a sophisticate with the wine! The man in the second is admiring the way his wife looks rather than something she does, and that ad might appeal to women because it indicates that on a cruise he won’t be so mad at them for taking too long to get ready.

Brilliant, as I said.

[NOTE: My parents used to cruise every year before tax time, a way for my father (who was a CPA) to relax in winter before the big big crunch that had him burning the midnight oil. They went with at least three other couples and often more, all good friends, and they had a whopping good time.

I don't think there was a lot of contemplative re-evaluation of the marriage. It was more about interacting with other people and experiencing some warm weather, usually the Caribbean. When I was fourteen they took my brother and me on a Christmas Caribbean cruise. I've never been on a cruise as an adult, but I remember that one well, especially the all-you-can-eat food. I gained about five pounds in ten days, and stayed in a room with my brother. The ship was the Mauretania, which was scrapped not long after my cruise. It seemed archaic even then; the cabin I shared with my brother was tiny and dark, without windows of any sort, which meant we could sleep late because there was no sense of time. There was a shared dorm-like bathroom down the hall. Not exactly the lap of luxury, but it was fun nevertheless.]

14 Responses to “Inner cruising”

  1. Wolla Dalbo Says:

    With all of the stories over the last few years about mass illnesses breaking out on cruise ships, cruises –especially lower end cruises–just don’t seem that appealing to me, especially those on cruise ships that have ten or twelve or however many levels; gigantic, ugly behemoths with thousands of “guests” that resemble nothing so much as floating ant colonies.

  2. Eric Says:

    Neo: “The man in the second is admiring the way his wife looks rather than something she does”

    It’s both. For a man in love with her, a woman’s intricately, delicately feminine beauty ritual can be fascinating.

  3. vanderleun Says:

    Strange to say that, while I rarely notice commercials on television — zapping past them if possible — I actually did notice the “He Orders New Wine” commercial.

    Stranger to say and sad for the ad agency is the fact that not only did I not notice it was an ad for Princess Cruises, the fact it was an ad for cruises also completely escaped me. Other than that an effective commercial.

  4. Ann Says:

    That some of the ads may be quite obnoxious is of little import. The husbands or wives of a certain age, archly studying their long-term spouses in the shipboard light as though they were prize heifers and deciding they’re not so tedious after all, might strike the viewer as repugnant.

    “archly”? Doesn’t that carry the connotation of irony? I don’t see that at all. But maybe I’m just a sucker for a good-looking guy in a crisp, white shirt.

  5. blert Says:

    Those junkets are floating casinos!

    Naturally, there is no allusion to their money-trap.

    That they need to cater to those without young dependants…

    We get that.

  6. Charles Says:

    Here’s a more enjoyable commercial:

    I don’t understand the language; but I don’t need to.

  7. Randy Says:

    I’ll second what Eric said.

  8. Tonawanda Says:

    I will third what Eric said.

  9. neo-neocon Says:


    I was aiming at definition #3 here: “knowing or superior.”

  10. Richard Says:

    My wife and I took the inner passage “Glacier Gawker” Alaska cruise on the Princess line ship “Island Princess” last June, and loved it!
    Do it, and on any cruise, upgrade to get a balcony suite, for sure.

  11. neo-neocon Says:


    But did you learn how to order the right wine :-) ?

  12. J.J. Says:

    As an experienced cruiser (10 cruises since 2006), I can say that we cruise for the convenience, not the romance. In our 60s and early 70s we always traveled off the beaten track. Rambling around Europe with backpacks and a rail pass, off beat safari in Africa, moving from place to place in Spain and Portugal, car camping around Canada (BC & Alberta), etc. We took our first cruise to celebrate our 50th anniversary. It amazed us at how much we could see while traveling in comfort and only unpacking once. We’ve seen many countries and cultures since then.

    We’ve found that Holland America meets our needs quite well. The ships are smaller, (900 – 1200 pax) they are not overly fussy about dressing up (3 formal nights a week), the food is very good, you can eat very healthy, they don’t push the alcohol like some other lines, the pax are mostly older (very few couples with children), the Officers are all very professional, the crews (mostly Indonesian and Filipino) are wonderful, they always have some excellent educational lecture series for days at sea, and their prices are quite good ( yes, I’m a cheap bastard :-) ). Oh yeah, most of their stage shows are reasonably good too.

    Blert’s right about the casinos. Every cruise we’ve been on there have been quite a few gamblers who keep the casinos

    If you’re young and healthy, cruising may seem boring. At my age, it’s just about right.

    So,why am I in Hawaii? We wanted some sun and warmth. Holing up on the Beach in Waikiki looked pretty good and was
    cheaper than the 30 day Holland America cruise through
    Hawaii, the Marquesas, and Tahiti. Sadly, it’s just about over.
    :-( Aloha!

  13. Ray Says:

    I was in the Navy and your cabin on the Mauretania sounds like where I lived for 2 years, an 8 by 12 cubicle with 3 other officers. We referred to our cabin as the black hole of Calcutta.

  14. neo-neocon Says:


    This cabin was considerably smaller than 8 X 12. Then again, there were only 2 of us, and it was only for about 10 days.

    I loved it, actually, for sleeping late. I imagine you didn’t get to do a whole lot of that in the Navy.

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