The San Francisco Chronicle is a great newspaper. Like the L.A. Times, it has an endless staff of intellectually curious, bright journalists instilled with an ethic of investigative journalism of the likes of super-journalist Douglas Franz. All qualities which our newspapers here in South Florida are sorely missing.
Miami Herald - An Enabler of the "Greed of the Seas"
I have commented before on how the Miami Herald is basically the cruise line's bitch, if you excuse my French.
Which brings me to today's blog. The Miami Herald is attending a press frenzy today in Port Everglades on Royal Caribbean's mega-monster Oasis of the Seas. Tomorrow, the increasingly few Miami residents who subscribe to the Miami Herald can expect the usual puff piece with its usual "wow! look-at-how-big-it-is" stories.
Where are the free thinkers questioning the madness of this monster? The "journalists" surrounding this beast of a ship more resemble groupies thronging for attention around a 1980's metal band.
So I felt redeemed today when I read a column from talented journalist Mark Moford of the San Francisco Chronicle about Royal Caribbean's monster of the seas. I have attempted a couple of similar insights such as Royal Caribbean's "Monster of the Seas" - a Cruise Ship Only Gordon Gekko Could Love but my article falls well short of Mr. Moford's straight-to-the-jugular writing.
His feelings today about monster cruise ships are so spot on that I will just repeat them verbatim:
Mark Moford and Dante's Inferno
"If you're anything like me, you can't help but be completely overwhelmed by one devastating, all-encompassing thought whenever you see any of those insane floating nightmares known as monster cruise ships.
You think of sewage.
Right? Don't you? It's all I can do not to imagine the mountains of waste these ungodly leviathans produce on your average oceanic journey: The heaps of garbage, sewage, toilet paper, plastic, chemicals and leftover food from the gluttonous buffets, all that clammy shrimp, rotting lettuce and industrial prime rib uneaten by 6,000 largely unhealthy people agreeing to be trapped aboard a floating ring of Dante's inferno for two solid weeks.
A Terrifically Ugly Floating Vomitorium
I fully believe cruise ships are one of man's most nefarious inventions, an extremely sad, low-vibrating form of evil, cleverly disguised as desirable luxury but which, if you spend more than a few hours wandering the decks by yourself, will subtly and calmly urge you to jump overboard and end it all. Which is exactly why they're all based in Florida.
Hence, it was utterly impossible for me to stifle a bone-deep shudder when fresh images of the world's largest cruise ship, the Oasis of the Seas, upwards of 225,000 gross tons and several times larger than the Titanic, recently lumbered across my jaded retina. This nefarious colossus is not merely terrifically ugly, not merely a bizarre testament to man's voracious desire to build the absolutely silliest, most ginormous things he can possibly imagine, not merely greed and PR and unchecked capitalism run amok. Oh wait, that's exactly what it is. And I'm not afraid to admit: It frightens me deeply.
I suppose the good news is, whenever tacky cruise ships make the news - usually because of a nasty flu outbreak on board that turns the entire vessel into a floating vomitorium - I'm wont to recall the late David Foster Wallace's pitch-perfect, all-time classic piece from Harper's (PDF here) years back that set the standard for brilliant literary takedowns. Far as I'm concerned, anything that re-ignites an appreciation for DFW can't be all bad."
Miami Herald's Business Monday Miami Herald
Oasis of the Seas Royal Caribbean Cruises, Ltd., a Liberian Corporation
Mark Moford SFGate / San Francisco Chronicle