Traveler Stereotypes: They Exist

Cruise passengers beware–that shadowy figure is watching you. And taking notes. And sometimes photographs. Muahahahaha!

In a seedy karaoke bar
On the banks of the mighty Bosporus
Is a Japanese man in a business suit
Singing Smoke Gets in Her Eyes

And the muscular cyborg German dudes
Dance with sexy French Canadians
And the overweight Americans
Wear their patriotic jumpsuits

-Wheels, Cake (the band, not the baked good)

The above quote is one of my favorite verses in any song, ever.  And not just because the last line is so delightfully un-rhymed, but because I can completely picture that karaoke bar.  Sometimes, traveler stereotypes exist for a reason–because they are true.

Any time I am in close proximity to many people–particularly many different kinds of people–my brain goes into hyper-writer mode and attempts to study the behavior of everyone around me.  I blame the writing course I took eight years ago during which I spent a month doing an ethnographic study of the ferry terminal on Martha’s Vineyard.  But whatever the reason, I’m admittedly quite the people watcher.  And there’s no better place to people watch than on a cruise ship, when you are up to your ears in, well, other people.

On my recent cruise to Bermuda, it seemed I was traveling with more characters than I’d previously experienced.  I’m not sure why or how this occurred, but I promise you I’m not making up any of the following traveler stereotypes.  They were all recorded, in all of their awful glory, in the memo app on my iPhone.  Sadly, I didn’t get photos of most of them.  That’s probably for the best.

This is ‘Merica guy. Thanks for the free entertainment, ‘Merica!

1.  The Obnoxious American.  I swear to all of the gods, I witnessed the following while sailing out of New York City past the Statue of Liberty: the DJ on the deck played ‘Proud to be an American’.  The kid next to me–wearing very white sneakers, very white basketball shorts, a baseball hat (that he repeatedly turned backwards and then forwards again) and a large gold chain with a cross around it (and no shirt) sang along with every word. At the part where the song goes ‘and I proudly STAND UP’, the kid got up on his tippy toes.  And at the very end–again, I swear to all the gods–he pumped his fist in the air and yelled ‘MERICA!’ at the top of his lungs.  He then continued to drink his Bud Light.

2. The Totally Wasted Guy.  I saw a band setting up in the Atrium on my way to dinner one night.  They were doing a sound check, and a large, sweaty, clearly-not-in-the-band drunk man was standing up with them, singing along as they did their sound check.  Classy.

3.  The Asshole Parents.  I almost got into an actual fight one night in the ship’s pub; in fact, my husband made me leave the bar lest something bad happen.  This was not, in fact, because I was playing the role of totally wasted gal.  It was because I was having a hard time keeping to myself my opinions of the parenting–or lack thereof–that I saw happening.  First of all, no one wants to hear your four and six year olds sing karaoke.  Second of all, it is 11 pm.  Put the kids to bed.  And third of all–and this is the part that really bothered me–if you are going to have your kids up past bedtime singing karaoke, please choose a non-horrific song.  That particular night, those particular FOUR AND SIX YEAR OLDS were singing Sex on Fire by Kings of Leon.  If you don’t know the song–or if you can’t imagine what it is about based on the title–go ahead and Google the lyrics.  I believe ‘head while I’m driving’ is where I lost my ability to keep quiet.  (And now, having typed that, I’m going to get all kinds of misdirected Google traffic to this post.  Oooops!)

A stereotype I approve of–woman on deck of ship with floppy hat.

4.  The guy on the scooter with the overfilled buffet plate.  No further description necessary.  And I guess I could have snapped a photo of him.  It’s not like he was moving very fast.

5.  The I’m-going-to-wear-this-bridesmaids-dress-again-damnit woman.  One of the things I like most about Norwegian Cruise Line is that you don’t ever have to dress up.  But you can if you want to, and people often do.  Of course, there’s nothing wrong with dressing up–until you see that poor soul who clearly was determined to recycle a bridesmaids dress.  Please, America–there’s no reason to ever wear a dress like that again.  There’s an accounting term that comes to mind here–sunk cost.  It refers to money that’s been spent that you’re just never going to get back.  That’s what a bridesmaids dress is–a sunk cost.  Please don’t hem it, take it in, or take it out.  Well, you can take it out–to the garbage.  Just please, please don’t put it in your suitcase.  Thanks.

Of course, these are just a few of the amazing, photograph-able, simply-must-be-mentioned types of travel stereotypes you will find aboard any cruise ship (or, for that matter, in any resort, tourist town, or major city in the world).  I’m sure you’ve come across more than these.  So please–share your traveler stereotypes in the comments below.  I’ll even accept ‘overly judgmental travel bloggers’ as a category.


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