According to a recent post on a popular Facebook page, New Year’s Eve started not with a bang but rather a crash aboard the Norwegian Dawn, where a rambunctious child apparently broke part of an ice sculpture while his parents, in essence, did nothing.
“The crowd was horrified,” reported the poster, “and his parents did nothing to stop him. So [the child] starts shoving the pices into the water. His dad eventually intervened, and the kid ran and hopped into a hot tub while the cruise staff stood there, shocked, trying to figure out what to do since [the sculpture] was supposed to be a key element of the celebration.”
Another post on a cruise-related site featured a woman proudly proclaiming her clan to be “one of those families that brings four children with us, and we let them all round around unsupervised (except the youngest).” She went on to say that “people should expect this” on a cruise, adding, “our kids are also on vacation and there to have fun.”
Lack of Parenting?
But for many cruisers, these two posts represent a major problem that has less to do with the lines themselves and everything to do with a distinct lack of parenting. Perhaps the problem was best summed up by the Oompa Loompa’s from the 1971 flick Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. “Who do you blame when your kid is a brat?” they asked. “Pampered and spoiled like a Siamese cat? Blaming the kids is a lie and a shame. You know exactly who’s to blame: The mother and the father!”
For the vast majority of us, it is hard to imagine sitting back and watching casually as a child goes on a tear, and yet it’s a pretty common scenario, whether on land or sea. And it is perhaps inevitable that the situation can be exacerbated aboard cruise ships, where parents want to kick back and relax and they often feel free to assume that their child will be watched by… well, someone, surely.
Most major cruise lines now offer at least some form of child care program, and many parents take full advantage of them. But who amongst us hasn’t heard tales of the child who “doesn’t really like” being in supervised care and is “perfectly capable” of entertaining himself… even if doing so means disrupting others?
The situation certainly doesn’t seem likely to change anytime soon, especially with cruise lines increasingly marketing themselves as family-friendly options to land-based vacations. Press materials for Carnival Cruise Line proudly and rightly proclaim that they “attract 4.5 million guests a year and, as the family cruise leader, we also carry more than 700,000 children each year.” Look at any of the major lines and you’ll see them trotting out everything from kid-centric water parks to autograph sessions with popular children’s characters in an effort to attract families.
All of which leaves us wondering… what should (or even can) be done about unruly children? In response to the aforementioned ice sculpture incident, many commenters suggested that the family should have been kicked off the boat at the next port or, at the very least, charged for the damages incurred by the child’s actions. But is that too extreme a response to what is, in essence, a child behaving like a (poorly raise) child? Are kids running wild just something cruisers have to deal with, perhaps by sequestering themselves in the child-free zones offered by many ships? Is there a solution to the conundrum, or is it simply a case where we all just have to learn to co-exist?
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