Last week, I had the pleasure of crossing the Caribbean on a cruise ship. My experience on the Carnival Victory was fun, minus some sea sickness, but it opened my eyes to the excesses of our society and how much we do “just because it is free.”
The Cost of a Cruise
A cruise is not a cheap vacation, but it can be a very affordable way to get away for a week. For a week away, which includes all meals, unlimited dining, lodging, and travel, you can find a deal for $329 for the week.
You have to add on taxes and port fees, which are roughly $100, and $80 in mandatory, included gratuity for your cabin steward and dining room wait staff. Even with that, your meals, hotel, travel, and ship-board entertainment cost less than $100 per day.
For as little as $169 per person, you can get away for a shorter cruise over a long weekend.
Excesses of Cruising
The first thing that comes to mind when many people think about travel is food. What did you eat when visiting a new place? Stories often include a great meal or two, but due to cost, most of us don’t dine like a king every night of a vacation.
On a cruise, that is not the case. You get a multi-course meal with unlimited everything included in your trip (I saw someone order three main courses one night). Nearly every waking hour, you can find a buffet fully stocked and ready for the masses.
If that does not suit your fancy, you can always make your way to the 24 hour pizza station, one of the grills or sandwich stations, ice cream or frozen yogurt machines, or the sushi station. Of course, these are all included with your trip and do not cost a penny extra.
I live in Colorado, one of the healthiest states in the country. I am not used to seeing lots of overweight people regularly. On a cruise, the morbidly obese join together for a week of indulgence.
I know that obesity is a big problem and not an easy thing to overcome for many people. However, I did not feel bad for anyone on the ship for being overweight. I don’t attribute their weight problems to genetic issues, it was very easy to see why they were fat. They ate everything in front of them.
The average person gains 5 to 10 pounds on a seven day cruise. I can imagine how much some people eat and what the top gainers add to their waistline in a week. Even I was tempted by the constant offerings of food and decadent deserts, and I am just an average sized guy who does not regularly overeat. When I am full, I stop, but not when a soft chocolate melting cake is placed in front of me.
Only Do What Gives You Value
I saw other excesses too. People over eat. People over drink. People over spend. Sometimes it is easy to avoid, because you can’t afford it or stomach the cost of something. Other times, it is easy to go overboard.
Just like when spending money, look at everything you do in life to see if it gives you value. Is eating a warm chocolate melting cake worth the sick feeling or 900 calories you have to cope with after the meal? Is the extra slice of pizza, even when free, worth it when you are not really hungry?
This can be applied to anything in your life and does not have to relate to food and obesity. If you spend three hours a night watching TV, do you gain value from it? Would the time be better spent reading a book or visiting with friends and family? If you rush to buy the newest iThingy, is it really worth the $500 price tag?
Your time, money, health, happiness, and almost every other aspect in your life has an alternative option, or an opportunity cost if you are into economics. You should seriously consider that each time you decide to do something, or not do something.
As for the free stuff, there is a cost to that too. Whether it is junk taking up space in your home or calories taking up space in your pants, everything has a cost and you should always consciously decide what to do, and not to do, even if it is free.
Did You Ever Regret Something Free?
Have you ever taken advantage of something free, or turned it down completely? Why? Please share your story in the comments.
Image by Jacrews7 / flick