There were more than 2000 passengers on board. The majority were American, but many other countries are represented too. For example, there were a lot of Spaniards, Italians and also more than 400 Greeks on a business convention for their employer, a pharmaceutical firm.
We've traveled in Greece a number of times and it is one of our favorite travel destinations. However, the Greek business people (and their families) on this cruise, as a group were a major distraction (and I'm trying to be kind). Very pushy and aggressive people, conversation consists of everybody YELLING all at once, clouds of cigarette smoke everywhere, cellphones (more yelling) constantly in use. As a group, very unkind to the tour guides, as far as we could tell watching from the bus window, every one of them rushing out the back door and thereby stiffing the guide of a tip.
Their kids, and there were many of them, pushing to the head of the line, racing to the elevator door, etc. These people, adults and kids, go up to the pizza table, and instead of asking for one or two slices, they ask for, they demand, six. Total slobs at the buffet, and at the tables food all over the floor, people wandering around the Grand Foyer wearing a bathrobe, etc. etc.. And through it all, everyone yelling, and all the time. All of this really became a pain in the butt after awhile.
These people, as a group were a decidedly low class operation, with most of them probably out of their element. My inclination is to stereotype this group in particular because they are obviously more successful at what they do than the typical person you meet when traveling in Greece. Perhaps aggressiveness breeds success.
Most of our fellow passengers were talking about this quite a bit. It was a quite unpleasant sidelight to the cruise. We had some amusing conversations with our tablemates telling Greek passenger stories. At the end of each day, each had still another new one to tell.
For a prospective cruise passenger, I don't think there is anything one can do to anticipate this kind of thing. On this particular cruise 20% of the passengers were made up of a very aggressive ethnic group. Can a travel agent "alert" a client to this sort of thing in advance? I don't know the answer to this question. I would think that more and more cruise lines are welcoming this kind of business, that is, large affinity groups making up a substantial percentage of the passenger population.
In general, the age distribution aboard ship was lot younger than our usual experience, with lots of couples in their 30s and 40s, a lot of that to do with the Greek contingent. No shortage of older folks to be sure, but not the dominating AARP contingent you find on many other cruises.
The cruise lines seek out new and unique ways of generating revenue. The cabin TV now features a variety of recent pay-per-view films as well as X-rated movies, all at $8.99 each. It is possible to restrict access to the porno films.
The price of photography has gone up. Standard 4" x 6" prints are now $6.45. The boarding-the-ship photo was available only in a 6" x 8" print which cost $10.95. At one formal seating, the photographer took a picture of each member of a couple, individually. Thus, if you wanted a picture of yourself and your spouse, it was necessary to buy two pictures instead of one.
Fortunately from our point of view, the photographers were not as in-your-face as on other ships, and this was a definite plus.
There is a mild push to get you buy bottled water at the start of the first on-board dinner. This despite the fact that all the fresh water on board ship is made from an exotic water-maker, a distillation system that uses waste heat from the engines. Thus, ordinary shipboard tap water is about as pure as one would find in a hospital. Nobody bought and the guy never returned.
In Russia, the passengers are given ample warning about not drinking water ashore with the recommendation that bottled water be taken off the ship instead. Of course, none of this bottled water is free. You would think that is the well-being of their passengers was of sufficient concern that the ship would provide water rather than sell it for the dollar or less they must make on each sale.
The TV has several free movies available for viewing throughout the day. The attractive on-board cinema was having problems with the operation of the audio-visual equipment but about halfway into the cruise, the problems were apparently solved. Movies were shown in the cinema two or three times daily after that.
The free movies on the TV and in the cinema seemed to be about 1-2 years older than what could be rented at Blockbuster. The pay-per-view movies were about 2-3 months older than Blockbuster.
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