My friends, Jane and Travis, just got married. Initially, they were planning on a cruise in the Caribbean for their honeymoon. They’ve never been on one and Jane thought it would be the best of both worlds: legitimately fun and kitschily ironic. Travis was on board (so to speak) but he had reservations. He is a community activist in our city and he kept worrying that a cruise was just too wasteful, predictable, and commercial. I agreed with Travis but since it wasn’t my honeymoon I stayed out of it. Then I remembered: they’d never been on a cruise before! I, on the other hand, have been on several. Each one was a family vacation, paid for by my grandparents, and each one seemed more quintessentially American than the last. The ships were like giant malls complete with expensive cocktail bars, clothing shops, and fake plants. Sure, the accommodations were comfortable but it all felt so generic, so spring break, if you know what I mean. My experiences have left me rather jaded about the whole cruise thing and I didn’t want my friends to be disappointed. The more I thought about it, the more I realized I had to say something.
My sister is in college and I’m always so jealous of her time off. She gets two weeks off for spring break, two months off over Christmas, and three months off over the Summer. I don’t begrudge her the time—she works hard and needs a breather from school work—but I do try to encourage her to spend it doing something meaningful. She frittered away her last break hanging out with friends and, while she had fun, she also felt rather empty returning to school. She knows she could have spent that time more wisely.