I have an odd fascination with cruising. More accurately, I have an unnatural fear of large cruise ships that borders on phobia no doubt thanks to viewing movies like the Poseidon Adventure and A Night To Remember. Even extensive viewing of The Love Boat wasn’t enough to overcome my fear. I’m sure I’m not alone with this condition; when I talk to people about cruising there are many reasons that people have for not cruising: claustrophobia, germaphobia, and my affliction – fear of cruise ships, especially the over-sized ones.
When people have areophobia, a severe fear of flying, they can go through a structured therapy that involves small steps including going through the process of flying without actually flying. The therapy culminates in the “patient” getting on a plane and making a short flight. I’ve created my own form of exposure-therapy to conquer my fear of cruise ships. I’m fortunate to have a budding travel business and part of my education is participating in something called a ship inspection. Ship inspections are hosted visits to cruise ships while they are in their home ports and usually happen as the ship disembarks passengers from one trip and prepares to take on a whole new set for the next trip, usually later the same day. I’ve been on a few of these inspections now and it’s helpful for me to have a touchpoint that I can relate to when I’m on board. Imagine my delight when I discovered most cruise ships have libraries. I now make a point of seeking out the library when I visit a ship.
This past weekend I visited the Carnival Glory while she was in port in NYC. Carnival is an interesting case study. Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you have probably heard some of the challenges Carnival Corp. has experienced over the past year or so (think stranded ship in the Gulf of Mexico and the tragic Costa Concordia for starters.) Needless to say they’ve had some serious PR issues to contend with never mind their really poor relationship with most of the travel agent community. That’s a discussion that’s out of scope for this blog but suffice it to say if Carnival turns things around it will be a case study worthy of HBR.
Each Carnival ship has its own theme; Glory’s theme is color. As you board the ship you enter a three story atrium, which introduces the theme right away.
The Black and White Library overlooks this public space from its perch on Deck 4. It’s a great location; although I suspect it’s not really a quiet space for contemplation or solitary reading. While I was there a DJ was welcoming passengers aboard with some pretty festive beats that could be felt and heard from within the sanctuary of the library. Let’s face it – the Carnival brand is all about 24×7 FUN. I was impressed that they even had a library.
The windowless library is tastefully decorated with comfy chairs for reading and tables for game playing. I was told that it is also a popular location for shipboard weddings.
The sparsely filled bookcases have a small collection of fiction and non-fiction, including travel guides for the ports that the ship visits. Upon inspection, it’s not especially well-stocked and most of the online reviews I read recommend bringing your own reading material. But the non-cataloger in me greatly appreciated the simple classification system as I resisted the urge to alphabetize the books.
The most interesting aspect of the space was the collection of old newspapers that lined the walls. I’m not an interior designer but I have to think that vintage travel posters might be a better – more Fun 2.0 – choice than the disaster-themed headlines that are featured.
P.S. My self-designed exposure therapy comes to an end in November when I will lose my cruise virginity on a one night Cruise to Nowhere (seriously, that’s what they’re called, which I suppose is better than A Night To Remember.) I’ll let you know how it goes.