WHERE BIG SHIPS CAN'T GO
I see it in nearly every travel situation, be it a cruise vacation, land travel or in the air. At hotels, restaurants, iconic attractions around the world, on cruise ships, airplanes, trains and more: joy-robbing travelers wait in hiding. As life goes on, the better prepared I am to head these people off at the pass and rarely get caught by surprise. Most often, I see them coming a mile away and divert my course to the opposite direction. We’ll call them Problem Travelers for now and see how that fits by the end of this quick post. No rant, just the facts. Interestingly, these people are really not part of the Viking River Cruise experience.
The It’s All About Me Traveler
Travelers like this are easy to spot and one of the most distracting. They interrupt someone who is speaking (about anything) to interject their personal thoughts and vast experience on the topic. Avoiding It’s All About Me Traveler is easier said than done in a group situation. The smaller the group, the harder it is to avoid them. Frankly, it’s their problem, not yours but their inappropriate focus can easily ruin just about any travel situation. When we travel, we enjoy doing so in the company of others, regardless of the size of the ship or where it goes.
The shared experience element of a cruise vacation can bring one of the most enjoyable elements of travel at every port of call. Make that a river cruise with less than 200 people on board, all the better. Sure, some places offer more attractions, opportunities to connect and the reason for choosing a particular itinerary. But at the end of the journey when reflecting on what we have seen and done along the way, these people stand out as a negative part of the experience.
The best end result of being subjected to the It’s All About Me Traveler is remembering them as a minor irritation, lesson learned, avoid that type in the future.
The Constant Complainer
This one can be found anywhere. Basically, they choose to go negative in any situation, no matter when or where it happens.
On a Mediterranean sailing a few years ago, the cruise line had arranged for us to experience a lovely performance at the world-famous Teatro La Venice Opera house in Italy. On this upscale cruise line, passengers who have booked the most luxurious accommodations on the ship were given priority access to the best seats in the house. As a member of the press, not actually booked in a luxurious suite, I tagged along. To make the experience even more pleasant, those privileged passengers were transferred to the venue ahead of all others on the ship, arriving a good 40 minutes ahead of the rest.
The Constant Complainer in the small group of the privileged few chose to complain about the ‘poorly timed’ transfer of the cruise line bringing us into the ‘sweltering hot’ opera house to wait. I happened to be just behind this person when we returned to the ship to overhear her telling a security guard just inside the vessel ‘Finally! Air Conditioning!’ continuing her rant throughout the day.
Now let’s think about this for a moment.
The logistics alone of moving hundreds of people off a cruise ship, taking them via water taxi to the area of the Venice opera house and then lead them to the venue and back without losing one is impressive. That the cruise line rented the entire opera house for our group, also impressive. The Constant Complainer could have enjoyed the space with unobstructed views of the opera house, recently restored to its original 1792 beauty, authentic down to the fact that air conditioning was not a part of the scene then.
Instead, she chose to complain. Worse yet, she stole the spotlight from what might otherwise have been one of the highlights of the entire voyage. That’s the reason to avoid this kind of travelers.
The Oblivious Traveler
This is another version of the It’s All About Me traveler but they have no end game or motivation to gain personally at the expense of others. They are just stupid. They can commonly be found on long, overnight flights to other parts of the world originating from North America. When everyone else is sleeping (or trying to sleep), window shades down to help with that, they have theirs open, ruining the sleep-encouraging ambiance of the aircraft cabin. The Oblivious Traveler also wanders into meetings, events and onboard programming late and wander around distracting those who are paying attention. In a dining venue obviously set up to be a quiet, serene experience, they are the ones making all the noise.
I bring up this topic toward the end of what is looking to be our best Viking river cruise experience ever for one very big reason: It is easy not to recognize these people until it is too late. We are all about enabling readers to get the best travel experience for them. In that respect, the customizable nature of a cruise vacation makes travel by ship a wonderful option. Not interested in acquiring that skill? Embrace travel products that minimize the odds of coming in contact with those people. Viking Cruises is one of them. Abercrombie & Kent is another.
No one is forcing someone who hates opera to attend a performance. The Constant Complainer profiled above would have been better off doing something else, both for themselves and out of respect for the rights of other travelers to enjoy the experience.
The actions of The Oblivious Traveler may seem just mildly annoying at the time. But if their open window shade prevents others from sleeping on a plane and waking refreshed to begin their much-anticipated travel experience, that’s crossing the line.
The warm fuzzy feeling one might get from interacting with the It’s All About Me traveler soon wears off when they turn on us. Wasting out time trying to figure out what their endgame is distracting our attention from more important matters.
So why were there none of these people on our Viking River Cruise? To make a long story short: those Viking catalogs, emails and television commercials are a big part of curating like-minded travelers to fill their ships. Rarely do we ever see someone who seems out of place… and in the same breath I say that has nothing to do with age.
Viking uses the term ‘culturally-curious’ to describe typical members of their fan club which fits nicely. I’ll throw in ‘well-traveled’, ‘mature’ (again, not a nod to age), and perhaps ‘flexible’ travelers who do not allow any of the inevitable variables of travel to negatively impact their experience when they go wrong. Indeed, one of the most enjoyable experiences of our Grand European Tour was getting lost then found by Viking crew and taking a shortcut back to the ship.