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essays | places | Montenegro

Kotor / Cruise out of Control

consumerism on vacation, ethics Left at home



   The early mornings and late nights were quiet. Not a single drone would leave the mega-hive before all of them did. They came out during the day. Unified in collective intent, the diurnal tourist swarm would buzz through the sweet alleyways to conquer, all of them hungry for the same nectar, sucking on sights, souvenirs, and set menus. One day, two days, then they were full. Maybe the next cruise ship would dock in Kotor the same day, or the day after.


"Of course, like with all needless and senseless consumption, the cheap cruise tickets came at a price."


Granted, the communal awkwardness of the sandal scandal had a comical element, but it wasn’t a laughing matter. I don’t know what felt more appalling – the thing itself or the unawareness of the thingers (estranged cousins of the thinkers, culture connoisseurs who had come to Kotor to pretend, and the stinkers, who were me, myself, and I). I guess both. Both were most appalling. It was the epitome of touristic overconsumption. Luxury vacation on low-budget steroids. Of course, like with all needless and senseless consumption, the cheap cruise tickets came at a price. I had met those who pay it. In Indonesia I‘d spoken to crew members, shocked but not surprised to hear their accounts of modern-day slave labor conditions faced by Southeast Asian chambermaids and others working in the underbellies of those behemoths.

And the ethical implications of consumerism in vacation mode don’t stop there. Those ocean beasts run on the world’s dirtiest fuels, and plenty of it. They dump waste into the seas. The list goes on. Regulations are lax. And international waters are fishy. It is all well known. Just not to those 30 million yearly passengers who fertilize the industry’s growth. Or maybe they know. It wouldn’t be the first industry we employ in a relentless pursuit of pleasure that wreaks havoc in such a fun way that we give it a pass.

"Someone had figured out how to sell the journey as destination. And sell it did."