A lot of cruise lovers were thrilled when they saw a big, splashy picture of the Norwegian Escape on the front page of the New York Times’ business section… and then they read the accompanying article. At that point, many scoffed, some nodded in agreement, but few were left without an opinion. Because what followed was an attempt to turn the ship’s Haven — sold as a ship-within-a-ship — into the epicenter of modern-day class warfare.
Why Some Laughed
Right from the start, the article managed to sound simultaneously pompous and vaguely inaccurate. “Behind a locked door aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship,” wrote Nelson D. Schwartz, “is a world most of the vessel’s 4,200 passengers will never see.” Beyond the fact that the author does not even mention the name of the ship until much deeper in the article, he also seems to be laboring under the misbelief that this is somehow a new concept, when in fact it has been around for years (having previously been called The Courtyard on many Norwegian ships). But perhaps the most egregious aspect of the article was how completely it missed the mark. Schwartz wrote about The Haven as if it were an exclusive enclave designed for the rich and famous when, in fact, the vast majority of guests utilizing the space are far from rich, much less famous. Yes, staying in the Haven is more expensive than booking a regular room, but the truly rich are far more likely to sail aboard a high-end line such as Crystal or Seabourn. Is The Haven an exclusive area that comes with some pretty awesome perks? It most certainly is. But is it worthy of being singled out as the line in the sand separating the haves from the have nots? Of course it isn’t.
Even the photos selected to illustrate the difference between the Haven and the rest of Escape probably proved humorous to many cruisers. The picture of the Haven shows a space occupied by only two children in what winds up looking like a rather dark, enclosed environment… while the public pool picture shows a bright, airy space under a blue sky with a few adults standing around the edge. Ask most longtime cruisers, and the idea of being trapped in an enclosed space with children is far less appealing than being under the open sky in a child-free area!
Amusingly, the piece goes on to make it sound as if guests of The Haven have all but sequestered themselves away from the riff-raff populating the rest of the ship, making the entire thing sound like something out of the dystopian thriller Snowpiercer, with Tilda Swinton’s Minister Mason barking, “Know your place! Keep your place!” The writer does, at least, admit that the matter “could be more extreme, and in the past it was.” His example? The Titanic, with the classes being separated by metal gates.
The Bigger Problem
Where the piece truly goes astray is in its attempt to use The Haven as a representative of all that is wrong with the world when it comes to social classes. It ignores the fact that every single aspect of life operates on the same principal as The Haven. Pay more, get something better. Heading out to dinner? You can go to McDonald’s or a steakhouse. Flying to Florida? Decide between first-class, business and coach. Buying a car? Will that be a Porsche or a Kia? That isn’t, as the author opines, some wicked plot to “create extravagance and exclusivity for the select few, even if it stirs up resentment elsewhere.” It is life. And as your mama no doubt told you more than once, life ain’t always fair.