Masks For Thee But Not For Me: Cruise Ship Edition

 

Readers may recall the jarring images of maskless political elites such as Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Carolyn Maloney attending last year’s Met Gala as The Help stood by dutifully breathing up against pieces of fabric.

Some in the cruise and cruise-commentary world, far from seeking an escape from the reinforcement of such class divisions, find comfort in embracing them. Cynical as I am, I was surprised to learn that a cruise line would require a fully-vaccinated crew member to don a mask while working alone on the open decks of a ship even as passengers a few feet away enjoy the ineffable feeling of their lungs filling with fresh ocean air.

But such, it seems is the case.

This policy, like the aggressive sanitizing of every horizontal surface, has less to do with science than signaling to the scientifically illiterate that you’re unlikely to get cooties from their widget. The virus, after all, does not distinguish between passengers and crew members. (Both of whom, in any event, are required to be fully vaccinated.)

Far from finding such measures off-putting, some passengers and cruise critics actually take comfort in them in the way only those untutored in the basics of risk assessment can. Ignorance of how respiratory viruses spread is prevalent among this class. Iliana Schattauer of Life Well Cruised, for example, says of her recent experience “I did take a lot of comfort in the fact that everybody is vaccinated on the cruise,” as if other people’s vaccination status has any impact on her own health. As for requiring the small crew of Filipinos who clean the deck in the open air to wear masks even as hundreds of passengers gather maskless inside the dining room below, Schattauer’s take is essentially “Let them wear masks.” (See her entire video here.)

Those considering a cruise have noticed these counterproductive and illiberal policies. Many are now avoiding a cruise not out of concern for catching Covid but out of a desire to avoid the plight of this couple from Denver who were forced to spend key parts of their cruise holiday quarantining in their cabin despite being Covid-negative.

None of the policies described above are imposed by the CDC, Anthony Fauci, or New York governor Kathy Hochul. Instead, they are pursued by a private sector seeking a greater market share of aggressively ignorant and risk-averse consumers who, in turn, are less concerned with returning to normal than ensuring that the right people are covering their faces.

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  1. Sandy Member
    Sandy
    @Sandy

    I’m dumbfounded but perhaps the cruise lines have simply settled for a reliably phobic customer base. I suppose there is some comfort in being able to advertise the attractions and freedom of the seas while pushing your customers around at will. They must also have a captive workforce, or they couldn’t do this. As a passenger I think I might worry a little that the waiters might be tempted to spit in the soup. 

    • #1
  2. Full Size Tabby Member
    Full Size Tabby
    @FullSizeTabby

    The instinct to “help the ignorant or misinformed customer feel better” is widespread.

    Although general mask wearing dropped out of favor in my area many months ago, the staff at local outposts of national chain stores and restaurants still wear them (with widely varying degrees of correctness) while few customers do. I assume the stores and restaurants are following dictates from national corporate headquarters for staff to wear masks, dictates that are presumably based on some belief at corporate headquarters that customers will “feel better” seeing staff muzzled.

    For twenty years the travel industry has maintained the theater of pretending to provide security against bad things coming into airports for the sole purpose of “reassuring” travelers who are apparently unaware of how ineffective those security measures are. Many features we see are based on helping ignorant and misinformed customers feel better.

    • #2
  3. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    Full Size Tabby (View Comment):

    The instinct to “help the ignorant or misinformed customer feel better” is widespread.

    Although general mask wearing dropped out of favor in my area many months ago, the staff at local outposts of national chain stores and restaurants still wear them (with widely varying degrees of correctness) while few customers do. I assume the stores and restaurants are following dictates from national corporate headquarters for staff to wear masks, dictates that are presumably based on some belief at corporate headquarters that customers will “feel better” seeing staff muzzled.

    For twenty years the travel industry has maintained the theater of pretending to provide security against bad things coming into airports for the sole purpose of “reassuring” travelers who are apparently unaware of how ineffective those security measures are. Many features we see are based on helping ignorant and misinformed customers feel better.

    There are 10s of thousands of Karens (of whatever gender) who believe that they have been deputized to send images to corporate headquarters of “non-compliant” employees.  

    • #3
  4. iWe Coolidge
    iWe
    @iWe

    It actually gives me the feeling of old-school paternalism: the “help” are dirty and don’t get to breathe our air. So the dehumanizing aspects of the masks is a bonus, by reinforcing the inequality and inferiority of the service staff.

    It is deeply wrong at every level. At least, if you believe that people are deserving of respect on the basis of the divine spark that resides in each human. But the modern atheist world does not share that bedrock Judeo-Christian belief.

    • #4
  5. Jim Kearney Contributor
    Jim Kearney
    @JimKearney

    When cruising becomes safer as Omicron abates, it’s not the young deck swabbers I’d worry about, it’s the problem masking creates for the onboard comedian! What are you going to do David, pre-record your act and re-brand as “The Masked Comic?” (and give the entire crew lessons in ventriloquism?)

    Do you generally alter your act for different theme cruise groups? It might be funny if you got the recordings accidentally confused, giving the Brent Bozell conservative cruise group the routine you’d prepared for the Topless Travel Swinging Couples Lifestyle Cruise.

    One time we were on an Alaska cruise with NR or TWS, forget which, one day behind The New Republic‘s progressive group on another HAL ship. The local bookstore was changing their display as we arrived, taking down the “Welcome New Republic Cruise” sign and replacing the Obama books in the window.

    • #5
  6. Randy Weivoda Moderator
    Randy Weivoda
    @RandyWeivoda

    Which cruise line is this?

    • #6
  7. EHerring Coolidge
    EHerring
    @EHerring

    I cruised in November to escape Covid madness. Now I am thinking that cruising will put one somewhere surrounded by paranoid Karens, I saw this on a facebook cruise group. I didn’t feel sorry for the Karen. What a busy body. I don’t need people like her bothering me.

    • #7
  8. DaveSchmidt Coolidge
    DaveSchmidt
    @DaveSchmidt

    EHerring (View Comment):

    I cruised in November to escape Covid madness. Now I am thinking that cruising will put one somewhere surrounded by paranoid Karens, I saw this on a facebook cruise group. I didn’t feel sorry for the Karen. What a busy body. I don’t need people like her bothering me.

    In stories like this one, “Karen” often asks/acts “nicely.”

    • #8
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