Their names are Tom and Karen: they’re American, middle aged, clinically obese and their two kids are now working adults.
He wears socks in his sandals to match his oversized Hawaii-shirt and she rocks a big hat and even bigger sunglasses to her little beach-dress. I present to you: the typical cruise ship tourists.
Today it was our turn to have a whole working day on the boat here in Progreso. To my great joy this included lots and lots of rig work. From the rig I not only got a great view over the port but also over the cruise ship (which docked around nine o’clock) and the thousands of cruise ship tourists who welled out of it the hours that passed after that.
At first it was amusing to watch them all, in their colourful outfits and big hats, walk in a big group straight into the arms of sneaky tour guides and ”duty free” stores which welcomed them with open arms, but after a while I started to pity them. As a non-cruise ship traveler who has visited various cruise ship ports I can state that the authenticity of the people and the towns completely change when a cruise ship is in. The locals no longer want local currency but US dollars, little stands pop up everywhere that at first look sweet and genuine, but all of them sell the same stuff and everyone wants to show you around and be your best friend- until they figure out you don’t want to pay them for it.
I pity these tourists because they think they’re exploring all these cool places and cultures by traveling with a Caribbean cruise ship but all they really experience is the americanized fasade the people of the ports put up when every new ship comes in. I’m not saying that any of this is the tourists’ fault, but of course the locals do whatever makes them the most money since most of these places need tourism to survive. The tourists don’t want the genuine Mexican culture and food, they want the warmth, the beach and the comfort of tourist friendly restaurants - they want it to be as simple as on the ship. They want an all inclusive trip.
I don’t know about you, but I’d rather sit in the comfort of my own home, with the heat turned on max and pick my nose in front of National Geographic than travel like this. Luckily enough I get to pick my nose on another ship with a bit different concept which fits me much better.