Maldivian hotels are like cruise ships...without the movement.
Guests and staff are all stuck in the middle of the ocean. Guests are happy, because they have come seeking relaxation; staff need a job, with most for third-world countries needing send money home. Not even the management can have families with them, because the children would have no school or have to commute each day by boat, if close enough the Malé. Days off are spent playing cards, using the internet, or watching television. This is not unlike my time in Vietnam, except we had no days off, no internet, no television and no luxury, just isolation.
All needs most be planned and preparation carefully. One cannot pop out to Costco for a value pack of toilet paper or pickles. Everything must be shipped by boat or plane to the capital and then trans-shipped by small boat to the island.
Unlike a cruise ship, there is only one type of “cabin/room”. Guests stay in “villas”, either amongst trees on the beach or on stilts over the water. Of course, all building materials had to be shipped here from afar. And, the causeway to the water villas must be continually repaired, because wood rots in the tropics.
We chose a water villa--one could choose a sunset or sunrise vista (Guess which I took), because we had been warned by friends that beach villas are beset by insects. Once here, I discovered that beach villas, although nice, are surrounded by trees. These block the view of the water and make rooms dark. Our villa is light and airy. We have inhibited view over the water, but no one can look in--unless on a boat and using binoculars.
I did not enjoy my one and only cruise experience. I did not hate it, but I can imagine much better ways to spend time and money. (I have reported on the "gift" in an earlier post.)
I enjoyed being with my family, all of which enjoyed the experience, but did not enjoy spending time with 1000 other folks, with which I shared nothing in common. The cabin was smaller than my bathroom at home, with the only redeeming feature being a balcony. I did not have to drive or seek a hotel each night, but I did have to put up with standing in lines. And, I got to resist sales pitches for dodgy "art", photographs against phony backdrops, and worthless souvenirs. I found no appeal in the chlorinated, urinated, and crowded pool, surrounded by loud children and alcoholically challenged adults. The experience was "royal" in name only. So what is the logical conclusion?
I plan to book another cruise! But, this one will be different...
I'm a big fan of Somerset Maugham's short stories about Asia and the South Seas, and I'm fascinated about the Far East. I have found a smaller cruise ship of an upscale cruise line, which caters to a "better" clientele (children are not welcome), that will sail from Singapore to Sydney. I can sit on my balcony and stare at the thousands of Indonesian islands that the ship will pass and imagine life as old Somerset witnessed it one hundred years ago. I have checked all the reviews on the Internet, read all the literature, and selected a larger cabin. Old-fashion elegance will replace "belly-up-to-the-buffet" gluttony. I'm expecting calm, quiet relaxation and enlightenment.
Prior to writing novels, the author enjoyed a multifaceted career: from decorated combat aviator to advertising professional to global communications director of a major consumer brand. He has traveled the world and met sports, film and television stars, political leaders, and royalty. He graduated from Middlebury College, is married, lives in Germany, and has two grown children.