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Cruise as a Pseudo-Utopia

Currently on a 5-day Carnival cruise from New Orleans to Mexico (day 4), and this is my thought:

A cruise ship is the ultimate psuedo-utopia.

Let me explain:

Why pseudo-utopia?

I don’t believe in real utopias. Even the idea is a bit dangerous.

I believe in a pseudo-utopia. Pseudo-utopia being:

  1. Freedom from care
  2. Maximal choice
  3. Post-monetary society
  4. Friendly folks
  5. All the material comforts (food, shelter, temperature, water, coffee, drinks, etc).

Let me describe.

1. Uber-minimal/simple living

The cruise ship is like a pseudo-utopic ‘communist/socialist’ system, in which everyone (passengers) are essentially the “same”. For the most part, everyone has access to the same foods, the same entertainments, etc. Being rich vs being poor on a cruise ship isn’t significantly different (you can eat more shrimp or ‘added bonuses’, but ultimately even all the food is more or less the same).

You sleep in a simple cabin room (similar to a small hotel room). You got a comfy bed, a mirror, closet, and bathroom inside. You wake up, and you can do whatever you want! You can go straight to breakfast-brunch, go to the buffet, go to the pool, go workout in the gym, go to the dry or the steam sauna, you can go gamble, see a show, etc. There is almost an absurd amount of things you can do on a cruise ship, and it is all ‘FREE’ and unlimited! And there is no obligation on doing anything — which is the ultimate freedom of choice, schedule, and time.

Thus being on a cruise ship/living on a cruise ship as a passenger for about a week is great. You don’t need to worry about cooking, cleaning, paying for things, or engaging in ‘work’ (you don’t have access to free wifi) which forces us to disconnect, and just focus on things you enjoy doing!

2. Less materialism on cruise ship

When you’re on a cruise ship, you can go shopping, but my sense is that material things aren’t that important on a cruise ship. Nor your clothes or possessions, and it doesn’t matter how much money you got (because once again, you additional money doesn’t really purchase you any radically beneficial things).

Also being on the cruise ship (not having access to online shopping, etc), I have fewer distracting material desires. Thus, I am able to really focus on just doing what I want to do (artistic and creative production), instead of being tempted to go to the mall and try on some new NIKE sneakers or thinking of buying a new Apple product.

3. You pretty much got everything

In terms of food and drink: unlimited buffet (changes everyday), unlimited coffee (on tap!), and fancy ‘sit down’ restaurants where you can order unlimited appetizers and courses. Unlimited steaks, unlimited hamburgers — unlimited meats.

In terms of physical health, there is a quite well-equipped gym on the cruise ship. The gym has free weight dumbbells all the way up to 75 lbs. You can get a very good workout, do yoga, etc. Also there is a dry and steam sauna, which is good for our bodily and mental well-being (quite zen — imagine being in a sauna and looking straight out into the ocean).

The cruise ship is quite big. It is almost like being on a mall that is floating in the ocean. On a daily basis, I probably walk FAR MORE than I would when back home in America. And it is big enough that you often forget where things are (you can get lost) which I consider a good thing. This means you can just walk a lot, and see a lot of visual novelty (three different types of pools, many different common areas, many different bars and pubs, the casino, the auditorium, the night club, etc). And the doors are always open to you: you can enter and leave as you please, and you never need to pay an admission fee.

Would you live on a cruise ship indefinitely?

This is the thought that comes to me:

Let us assume you had to live on a cruise ship for 50 years (you were never allowed to leave or get off). Would this be pure heaven or hell? Would you go crazy? Or would you just get bored?

This also gets interesting to me as we consider space travel. If you had to be on a spaceship to get to some planet, and you had to live on the spaceship for 1, 5, 10, 20, 30, 40, or even 50 years, how could we create the “ideal” sociology in which people live, thrive, without going insane or deathly bored? (This is why I find the premise of the film Passengers so interesting).

Tough to know because I’ve never lived on a cruise ship. My gut says I’d eventually get bored. Perhaps this means:

The happiest life is the most uncertain, chaotic, irregular, unpredictable, and open-access.

This means our hedonistic pleasures (food, drink, entertainment, safety, predictability, regularity) are grossly overrated.

Intermittent cruising

Another thought:

Perhaps the ideal is to go on “intermittent cruises”; to spend some time on land and some time on a cruise ship.

Most cruise ships do this. You have a day “at land” in which the ship docks, then you can explore the land, use wifi, visit the beach, go shopping, wander around, etc then go back on the cruise ship.

Therefore my theory:

If I lived on a cruise ship for a year, and we regularly docked I think I can live a very happy and creatively productive life!

When I’m on land I can shoot street photography and upload stuff to my blog (access to wifi on land). On the ship internationally be disconnected from the internet in order to focus, be less distracted.

A whole life on a cruise ship

Then comes the question:

What if I lived on a cruise ship for the rest of my life in which it docked on land every other day. Could I live a happy life?

How could I raise a child like this? (similar to wondering how we would raise children who are born on a spaceship).

Let’s say I had no choice: I was condemned to living on a cruise ship indefinitely (which docked at land). I think I could live a very fulfilling life.

Now if I had the means would I do this is the question? And the funny thing; I think financially speaking, to live indefinitely on a cruise is actually possible. Apparently some old retired folks do this, and prefer life this way.

But for me, what would my ideal look like?

Living in Vietnam for a year

The closest real experience I have is living in Vietnam for a year. Similar situation; cost of living is so low that my income VASTLY outstrips my cost of living. Thus in a sense we lived in Vietnam with “infinite money”, “infinite options”; the ultimate all access, open access style of living.

Cindy and my life was very simple. Creative work during the day at coffee shops, walking around a bit during the day, sometimes yoga or some form of exercise, dinner out at a restaurant then back to the hotel room to sleep. To me this lifestyle was pure bliss; I could do this indefinitely until I die.

What’s the difference between living on a cruise ship versus living in Vietnam? Technically more options when living “on land”, but truth be told, after a certain while you discover the same places you like and you just cycle between them. Assuming the cruise ship docked in different places, you’d have more novelty living on a cruise ship.

What’s better in Vietnam when compared to cruise ship? Vietnam has insanely fast wifi, we get regular massages, coffee is better in coffee shops in Vietnam. And I think I have more fun talking in Vietnamese and learning a new language (than just speaking English on a cruise ship).

So actually if I had the option, living in Vietnam is superior option.


Cruise every few months or live in Vietnam intermittently (or both!)

Try it out (at least once in your lifetime)

My suggestion: if you’ve never been on a cruise, give it a go. Book a cheap cruise on Carnival, and use it as a time to think, read, write, photograph, and meditate. Bring your laptop, digital camera, etc — and use it as a creative retreat of sorts. Who knows what kind of insights you may gain.

The upside of being disconnected

For myself, lots of creative thoughts and ideas by NOT having access to the internet. Kind of like how flights are so nice when you don’t have access to the internet and wifi– you can disconnect your mind, to connect your own creative thoughts in your own mind.