Jeremy Clarkson’s attack on cruise holidays is elitist claptrap

What an elitist load of claptrap. I’m talking, for those who missed it (lucky them), about Jeremy Clarkson’s embarrassing rant over cruising in a national newspaper last weekend that would have insulted millions, and –frankly – proved he hasn’t got a clue what he is talking about.

I make my living writing about cruise holidays, but am first in line to accept that they are not everyone’s cup of tea. A common saying in the industry is that “there is a cruise for everyone”. To that I add: “But not everyone wants to cruise”.

It’s the same for other types of holidays. I went off skiing after knackering my knee and I find scuba diving on a par with watching paint dry. But I tried both and don’t denigrate those who like nothing better than hitting the slopes or getting down with the fish.

Not so Clarkson, who spouts such unmitigated – and unfair – nonsense about cruise holidays. It’s clear he has never even been near a ship, never mind on one. Maybe he was scarred for life watching Carry on Cruising back in 1969. Yes, that is how out of date he is.

What comes across loud and clear in his ill-mannered bluster is pure snobbery. “I once watched a cruise liner disgorging its orange passengers onto Barbados,” he sneers. Let me get this straight. It’s fine for him to have a holiday in the Caribbean – fly in, stay in a nice hotel – but cruise folk are not good enough?

What is it you called them, Jeremy? “Drunk, weird people”. What a ludicrous statement from someone who goes around punching people he doesn’t like or when he doesn’t get what he wants. You want weird? Look in a mirror.

I have met the most lovely people on cruises. Unassuming well-educated folk who have run multi-national companies, juggled multi-million-pound budgets. They have made their fortune and are now enjoying spending it. If that’s weird, I’ll take it any day over a vindictive TV presenter. 

And how sad that he talks with such glee about killing off an industry that puts billions of dollars into economies around the world and provides jobs for millions of people, many from developing countries that offer little else in the way of employment. What do you suggest they do instead, Jeremy? Starve? 

I was in Venice soon after the government started talking about restricting cruise ship access a few years ago and saw what the water taxi drivers, the restaurateurs and tugboat men thought of that. My Italian is shaky but the message was clear: “Hands off cruise ships; they are our livelihood.”

The city’s maritime authorities have been talking for ages about dredging an alternative route to the cruise port so ships don’t sail past St Mark’s Square. It would be a neat solution, allowing cruisers to continue to enjoy Venice and the locals to reap the financial rewards.

I don’t suppose that would suit Clarkson though, because it doesn’t fit his narrative. The one that says cruisers cannot possibly appreciate the beauty of Venice – there’s that elitism again – and that cruise ships are harbingers of disease and pollution.

This from a man who, before being kicked out of the BBC, flew around the world with his mates and a production team so they could make films driving dodgy cars and trucks around pristine landscapes.

I have bad news for you, Clarkson. The ships you gleefully saw being broken up were either very old or too expensive to run. They are being replaced by environmentally-friendly vessels that are powered by liquefied natural gas and batteries, that have treatment plants to turn waste into near drinkable-quality water. Companies have spent billions developing the technology. You really think they’d have done that if the days of cruise holidays are numbered? I wouldn’t bet on it if I were you.

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