Paradise Lost at Sea: Rethinking Cruise Vacations.


176 pages
Contains Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-1-5526-6276-2
DDC 387.5'42




Reviewed by Gordon Turner

Gordon Turner is the author of Empress of Britain: Canadian Pacific’s
Greatest Ship and the editor of SeaFare, a quarterly newsletter on sea


In recent years cruise ships have grown larger and have added many new amenities. Fares, though, have remained relatively low. This, the author says, is because rates are no longer all-inclusive. In fact, they rarely were. Bars almost always charged for drinks; stewards expected tips. Modern cruise ships provide greater opportunities for discretionary spending, such as casinos, spas, and shore excursions, with shipowners taking their cut. If advertising is high on imagery and low on specifics, this is not exclusive to cruise lines.


The book also deals with passenger safety, health concerns, environmental matters, and crew working conditions, the author taking issue with cruise line claims and what he perceives as the unattractive reality. He gives examples of sexual assaults against passengers, stating that accused crew members, usually from Third World countries, are hustled back to their homelands before allegations are properly investigated.


Gastrointestinal illnesses sometimes break out aboard ship. But where did it originate? Professor Klein is skeptical of cruise line claims that it is often caused by passengers coming aboard already infected. Cruise ships visit some of the world’s most appealing destinations, but what is their environmental protection record? Not that great, according to the author. Legislation has helped, but waste disposal and air emissions require firmer action. Some ports erect expensive cruise terminals, expecting that economic benefits will flow automatically when ships call, but this is not always the case, says Professor Klein.


While passengers recall their smiling waiters and obliging cabin stewards, the author reminds readers that many are recruited from Third World countries where wages are low by North American standards. Cruise ships give them an opportunity to earn more, but they work long hours under less than ideal conditions.


Professor Klein, a thorough researcher, includes 11 pages of references. He offers practical advice on safety and health and other potential pitfalls. The vast majority of passengers, however, will remain safe and healthy throughout their cruise and will return home well satisfied with their time afloat.


Klein, Ross A., “Paradise Lost at Sea: Rethinking Cruise Vacations.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed February 25, 2024,