(note, I delayed a few days and thought about it seriously before posting the following)
Whether I attended them or not, all the cruise lines seem to have a slot in the Friday night schedule for self-led services. Occasionally I would be known to drop in, or not as the mood struck. Over major holidays the ships on which I have traveled have made more than a slight effort. (some engaging the services of a cantor or rabbi over the High Holidays) or supporting organized celebrations for Hanukah (somehow a more understandable holiday to the Christian world although of minor importance to most of us on this side of the fence).
But I realized the other morning when I made the mistake of heading early to the Sky lounges ad stumbled into quavery voices raised in off-key hymns that I hadn’t noticed an option on this ship. In fact not for Jewish or Catholic services. Protestant services – there always seems to be a minister, pastor or preachers lurking among the passengers. But the lack options for me or many others was clear once I went looking.
Carmen and I noticed last June on the Constellation that they did not offer Mass. Since we were in a port on Sunday morning and one of the Cathedrals had a Mass who’s time worked there wasn’t as much issue for her in Bergen as there could have been. I am vaguely remembering there might have been an opportunity to attend Friday evening services but didn’t take advantage. I don’t think there was that option on the Eclipse out of Southhampton and there is certainly nothing on the Solstice. Even Costa with it’s idiocy of scheduling the life boat drill at the same time as Friday night services (2012 out of Singapore) wasn’t this oblivious.
In case you frequent cruisers are wondering – the community bulletin board on this ship is not passenger friendly. If you want something posted, you have to find a member of the Cruise Director’s staff or the event coordinator. If they agree that what you want posted would be of interest to “enough passengers” then they will make up a sign and post it. Nothing (other than Bill W) will make the daily program. Just their policy, don’t argue with us, there is nothing we can (or want) to do.
WHich takes me back to my original assertion. The reason there was a Protestant service on Sunday morning was that someone went to the staff and requested that they be able to run it along with enough pressure from others on the ship who wanted to attend that it would have been fairly uncomfortable for the staff to turn them down. However since the Cruise Critic meeting was already scheduled at 0945 in the Sky Lounge they were provided an earlier time than requested with a take it or leave it attitude. I made an initial inquiry about other services and then dropped it as it was obviously not something the staff had heard often before nor did they seem at all interested.
Perhaps “Modern Luxury” means being “modern” in everything and eschewing support for what are assumed to be traditional passenger activities on the ship. Being modern means that Friends of Bill W get a nod, right along with unlimited drinks packages. The staff had difficulty understanding why a meeting place at one of the bars out in public was not an appropriate location. It means an interesting selection of music (most of which is actively detested by the demographic on board) in all the lounges whether desired or not. It means furniture appropriate for 20s-40s creating challenges for the over 50 & overwieghts who become trapped in the chairs and couches.
There is no chapel on the ship, but the Captain does have the power to perform weddings which just leaves me wondering. This apparently is a cruise line for people who like comfort, style and a nod toward tradition (Tea in the Afternoon) while avoiding the uncomfortable issues of religion, discrimination or politics.
While their advertisements state that Kosher/Hallel meals are available in reality the labeling on the menus or in the Oceanview Cafe is woefully inadequate. I have no clue why a chef would think that topping Halibut with a strip of crispy bacon was a good idea but there it was lying dead and nasty on top of my fish. It certainly wasn’t on the menu, mentioned by the waitstaff or something I would expect in a restaurant devoted to modern healthy cooking. The serving line personnel in most locations did not know which oils or fats were used for food preparation. Gluten they know, just because of the current fad but on most other issues (to include nuts and seafood) they were clueless.
So all of this might explain why I haven’t seen too many Jews on Celebrity as compared to Royal although both have the same parent corporation. I think it also might apply to Catholics if they want a line that insures there is a Priests on long repositioning cruises. Or maybe I am reacting to a slight undertone of distain for passengers that I have picked up across the board on this ship. Sincere efforts are made to insure passengers are getting what they want – not because it makes sense or is great customer service but in an effort to avoid complaints.
The difference is subtle but clear. My message is less subtle – not rebooking on this ship and likely not on Celebrity again beyond those itineraries on which there are no other viable choices.