April 23, 2016

"nytimes cant have it both ways: an advertorial worthy of a travel magazine, and superficial social commentary."

Just the newest comment — the first one I read — on an article titled "In an Age of Privilege, NotEveryone Is in the Same Boat/Companies are becoming adept at identifying wealthy customers and marketing to them, creating a money-based caste system." It features a big photo of an atrocious, humongous cruise ship and begins:
Behind a locked door aboard Norwegian Cruise Line’s newest ship is a world most of the vessel’s 4,200 passengers will never see. And that is exactly the point.

In the Haven, as this ship within a ship is called, about 275 elite guests enjoy not only a concierge and 24-hour butler service, but also a private pool, sun deck and restaurant, creating an oasis free from the crowds elsewhere on the Norwegian Escape.

If Haven passengers venture out of their aerie to see a show, a flash of their gold key card gets them the best seats in the house. When the ship returns to port, they disembark before everyone else.

“It was always the intention to make the Haven somewhat obscure so it wasn’t in the face of the masses,” said Kevin Sheehan, Norwegian’s former chief executive, who helped design the Escape with the hope of attracting a richer clientele. “That segment of the population wants to be surrounded by people with similar characteristics.”
After creating — in some readers — a longing for a product I don't give a damn about whether some people choose to shell out money for, the NYT steps back for some tsking:
With disparities in wealth greater than at any time since the Gilded Age, the gap is widening between the highly affluent — who find themselves behind the velvet ropes of today’s economy — and everyone else.
Right under that are a couple pictures of some pool areas on the ship, and I'm not sure if only one is supposed to be "the Haven." Neither looks particularly bad or good.
It represents a degree of economic and social stratification unseen in America since the days of Teddy Roosevelt, J. P. Morgan and the rigidly separated classes on the Titanic a century ago.
Do they just cut and paste text like this from one article to another? Who cares if there are different travel classes? This isn't about living in a class-based society. It's about different price points and different products. These products may be sold by playing on emotions about accessing some high-class status, but they are just commercial products for you to be gulled or lulled into buying with whatever segment of your wealth — whatever it is — you set aside for throwing into transitory experiences.


virgil xenophon said...

How are such social "divides" ANY different than the one that has always existed on airlines between "business class" (i.e., "first" class) and the passengers (read hoi polloi ) in the back behind the curtain?

tim maguire said...

There's something to be said against the shrinking menu of shared experiences in America as the wealthy find more and more ways to seperate themselves from everybody else, but luxury travel is not one of them. Even below deck, cruises are not for the lower classes. The "hoi polloi" of this article are nearly all in the top 10%. Not exactly a "boo hoo!" category.

This article highlights one of the most disgusting aspects of the New York Times--they are limosene liberalism at its worst, always tsk tsking about the poor while pandering to the richest of the rich.

traditionalguy said...

Cruise Ships have always had an upper deck area that is 10 times as expensive as other decks and has spacious two bedroom suites instead of bunk rooms for skinny people. They also have extra servants and extra privileges. Old people with inherited wealth either spend it on themselves and stay on the high end ships, such as Crystal Cruise Lines, months at a time, or it all goes into the bratty grandchildren's inheritance in the near future.

Curious George said...

You would think that the non Haven guests were made to row the boat.

rehajm said...

So NYT would have government central planners dictate 'equality' amongst the very well off on a leisure cruise?

What bilge.

MadisonMan said...

I wonder how many NYTimes Owners/Editors fly first class.

Xmas said...

The NYT has now idea how vacations work. Next they'll find out about the Disney's Club 33.

Gabriel said...

The inequality issue is carefully phrased to obscure that poor people living in the US today live better than poor people anywhere else at any time in history. Plenty of middle class families can afford cruises and 50 years ago hardly any of them could.

But yes, rich people have stuff other people don't have. People who work for government have privileges other people don't have. This is not new.

Sebastian said...

"Do they just cut and paste text like this from one article to another? Who cares if there are different travel classes? This isn't about living in a class-based society." "Do they just"="I can't believe." Who cares: rhetorical question, right? This isn't about: says who? It's about whatever they say it's about. And it's always and everywhere about the politics of inequality and resentment, to further the pursuit of Prog power. I like an Althouse fisking as much as anyone, but alas, when it comes to the NYT and similar propaganda outlets, Lit-crittish FIsh-y deconstruction is beside the point.

Gabriel said...

Besides, aren't those rich people in the Haven seething in envy at the even richer who have their own yachts or islands and don't have to share with the other rich people?

Rather like Frasier and Niles at the Porte d'Argent,

damikesc said...

Are they complaining about cruise ships or existence in NYC? Don't they champion micro apartments also?

ddh said...

The writers of the article voted for Bernie.

Michael K said...

I love the "caste system based on money" that the Times is tsk tsking about.

They are giving in the richest city where hedge fund managers buy huge apartments in coop buildings.

Only the lower 50% of the 1% have to fly first class. The rest have Gulfstream 5s, like their candidate Hillary.

Bill R said...

The horror. The horror.

damikesc said...

And the same paper has written approvingly on people living in apartments the size of closets to afford living in the shithole.

Progressives are now pro robber barons.

Bay Area Guy said...

Next hard-hitting expose by the NY Times:

"Airline Travel - The Caste System Created by First Class Travel"

virgil xenophon said...

Thinking further on "social divides" one could note that the difference between public transportation (busses and subways) and private transportation is a HUGE economic/class divide, save for a few selected cities. It's not for nothing that MARTA (MetroAtlantaRegionalTransitAuthority) is derisively said to stand for "MovingAfricansRapidly ThroughAtlanta"

Bob Boyd said...

The ad reminds me of Monty Python's 'The Executive Version'


rhhardin said...

Port over starboard home.

Wince said...

Call me when the NYT notes that every public event on government property usually has a VIP area closed to all but the politically connected.

Laslo Spatula said...

Girl with the Pony Tail on the Treadmill:

I'd love to go on a cruise someday.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Lay out by the pool in a bikini, look at the ocean.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I bet there are a lot of rich men on the ship.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'd probably have my anus bleached.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Not that I'm planning for anyone to see my asshole.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)


(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

But if some rich man happened to see my asshole I'd want it to be the best it could be.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Not that I'd just let a rich man see my asshole.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

Still, I'd like to be ready. You never know where someone's head may end up.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I bet rich men expect their women to bleach their anus.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

"I met this great girl on the ship."

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

"But she doesn't bleach her anus."

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I bet they think like that.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I'd bleach my anus for an Audi.

(pony-tail swish, pony-tail swish)

I am Laslo.

rhhardin said...

Give more time to gluttony and sloth.

The Drill SGT said...

You think the Irish steerage class passengers ate next to the Astors on the Titanic?

William said...

Leaving aside the incalculable wealth of my good looks and charm, I'm not in the top 1%, but I take comfort in the fact that I now live better than the wealthiest man alive in the year of my birth. Granted I'm an old man, but it still boggles the mind the number of good things that have come online in my lifetime. I was born into a world where there was no remote control, no microwave popcorn, no internet porn. It was a harsh, bleak existence for everyone, even the wealthiest......The good things in life are never equitably distributed, no can they be. Health, athletic ability, sexual magnetism are the most enviable accmodations to have on this cruise ship to oblivion.

Phil 314 said...

Isn't it better than stealing the money from the rich?

Bob Boyd said...

One word.

Bruce Hayden said...

Only the lower 50% of the 1% have to fly first class. The rest have Gulfstream 5s, like their candidate Hillary.

I mentioned the other day that a fraternity brother who as a pilot had flown G550s for quite awhile. Looked them up - they had dropped to maybe $40 million after the crash, but appear to be back up in the $50 million range now. Nice - notably faster and can fly higher (which allows them to avoid commercial aviation) than any commercial flights right now. With enough range to get most anywhere you want without refueling. And, they now have G6s that are even a bit faster with even longer range, for maybe another $10 million.

Bruce Hayden said...

To one extent, this isn't that new. For example, one of the big part of the plot in Titanic was the guy in steerage getting together with the gal in a higher class. The difference today is that the men in 1st class no longer have to wear tuxes or dinner jackets (or, maybe even tails) to meals.

Fernandinande said...

"In an Age of Privilege, NotEveryone Is in the Same Boat/

That "age" being anything post hunter-gatherer.

tim in vermont said...

The difference with Titanic is that rules of social class prevented others from getting access. Now you just need the cash. It sounds like hell to me though, but I know there are people who eat that kind of shit up.

John henry said...

I find this kind of thing incredibly annoying. Why shouldn't I be able to spend my money as I see fit on a better class of cabin (inside, outside, balcony, concierge etc) or flying upfront?

You don't want to spend your money that way, fine by me. Don't tell me how to spend mine. I've reached an age that I'll take extra comfort over additional savings. I'm going to enjoy whatever time I have left.

John Henry

John henry said...

I did several flights on JetBlue last year. I was favorably impressed, though I have gone back to my main airline, American.

I had a conversation with a JB agent once and asked why they did not have an airline club like American's Admiral's Club.

The answer was that JB philosophy was that there are no special services, everyone gets treated exactly the same. No business class either, for that reason. I do think you can pay extra for a better seat, though.

For those who fly a lot, airline clubs (assuming others are like the Admirals Club) are one of the best deals going. Comfy chairs, lounge chairs in sleeping areas, free food and drink, computer work stations and printers, clean bathrooms with showers and more for only $4-500 year all inclusive.

John Henry

tim in vermont said...

Jet Blue is great and just do a platinum Amex for a couple hundred.

Yancey Ward said...

Well, I would take that article seriously were one to find homeless people on the cruise ship in the first place.

John henry said...

Thanks for the tip on Amex platinum, Tim.

AA Just closed the club in my home airport (SJU) 3 weeks after I had renewed for the year.

Looking at Platinum, it looks like with club benefits and other benefits it is a pretty good deal at $450 or so.

I think I will sign up.

John Henry

ken in tx said...

The Nazi gov sponsored luxury cruises open only to working class Germans. Passengers were assigned by a lottery. It was part of the Socialism in National Socialism, elevating the lower classes. It was also one of the programs that cemented the Nazi's popularity.

Sam L. said...

Sure the NYT can. Consistency is a bad word there, less'n it be for leftie politics. Then, it's MANDATORY.

Jason said...

The high-end passengers subsidize the rest of the travelers. Get rid of the first-class travellers and prices would go up on everybody else. Living in Ft. Lauderdale, I have many friends who work in the cruise industry, and other middle to upper middle-class friends who enjoy an occasional splurge on an overnight or weekend cruise. I hope MORE people pay a premium to buy high-end tickets. As a musician I have a number of friends who make a decent living as musicians on cruise ships, doing what the enjoy.

I hope they sell MORE of these higher-end tickets. It's good for everybody.

Michael said...

There have always been first and tourist classes on planes, boats and the beloved choo choos. There have always been suites in hotels and in the last four decades "concierge floors" sold at higher price points and providing more services and "free" food and drink. There are airline clubs which once offered some respite from crowded terminals but which are now often more crowded than the terminals. But again, "free" food and drink of a low quality.

Platinum AmEx offers free entry to some, but not all, airline clubs. I use it for Delta Sky Clubs but it isn't available for British Air or Air Canada.

Watch the people disembark from one of these massive cruise ships and you will be treated to an astonishing array of fat and poorly dressed Americans. Two out of three with prominent tattoos. Red. Appalling.

CL said...

"class stratification" sounds like the old days of landed aristocracy, but most of the wealthy today earned their money, they didn't inherit it.

Robt C said...

Agree with all the comments. But it's not just travel -- EVERY aspect of life is / has been stratified forever. Some folks eat at McDonald's, some at one of Puck places. Some folks drive Fords, some drive Mercedes -- and they probably envy those who drive Bentleys. Clothes? Marshall's vs. Rodeo Drive. And on and on.

Apropos of this post: "Conspicuous consumption is always viewed from below."

Mike near Seattle said...

Possibly the worst NYT piece of the year so far. Rarely have I seen such ignorance, willful misunderstanding and hypocrisy combined in print. It's hard to imagine there was no adult at the newspaper to say, "Wait a minute - we're talking about something that has been going on since the invention of money."

Fabi said...

My second job was at an IT company where I was both a small investor and a key employee. Within five years it was purchased for an eleven-figure sum. I made a few dollars in the buyout and was "retired" before I was 35 years old.

I enjoyed the windfall and indulged in the so-called finer things -- you name it and I had it. It was temporarily satisfying, but before long, I was looking for the "next fix" - a bigger this, a nicer that, a rarer the other. I did this to the point of obsession and to the point where I wanted more money to facilitate those desires. That was a mistake. I took huge risks trying to get to the next level and even enjoyed a few successes, but I found that I was more stressed and less fulfilled than when I had a five-figure income and six-figure net worth.

I remember at that time looking at a watch that I had purchased for $120,000 and it struck me as ridiculous. I dialed it back the next day, reassessed what was truly valuable and what was not. I still have a few nice things -- not that watch -- but only those which provide utility. The point is, is that there's always something nicer, so it's an empty pursuit. Things can't bring happiness or satisfaction and worrying about who has a fancier cruise cabin is a fine path to insanity.

Roy Jacobsen said...

Covetousness isn't considered a virtue. Why would the NYT want to encourage it?

Peter said...

I don't understand why those who can afford it would choose to travel on a giant cruise ship instead of on a smaller ship that has only one very expensive class of service.

But I'd guess the profit margin is much higher on these Gold Key passengers than it is for the hoi polloi. Business economics say a business is always better off selling something for just above marginal cost if that's all it can get, even though the business would run at a loss if it can't at least recover the average cost, including fixed costs.

The bottom line is that the higher margins provided by first-class passengers make it possible for cruise lines (and airlines) to sell some of the cheap seats at discounted prices.

Thus it would make more sense for those who have bought the cheap deep-discount tickets to appreciate those travelling in super-premium class instead of nursing resentment about how much better they have it because, which class do you think is paying the cruise operator's bills?

But perhaps more to the point, does the reality that someone can afford to travel in this class reduce your enjoyment of what you've paid for and, if so, isn't this somewhat like Menchen's defining a Puritan as someone who can't stand the thought that someone, somewhere, is having fun?