The cruise industry has been rightly the target of derision and scorn. They are among the most environmentally toxic things one can do without being a corporate executive. Yet, in the rage against them no alternative has been proposed to fill their nichè. A novel proposal would be cruise trains. Trains have many advantages that cruises don’t. The most obvious is scenery. Little one does on a Carnival cruise cannot be done at a land resort. Barren ocean gets boring if you’re not sailing a regatta, watching marine life, or fishing. Trains go through natural scenery and they can do it all on electricity and they easily discard their sewage properly.
The appeal of cruises is perceived freedom and escapism of perpetual movement. It is the psychological feeling of emancipation from the stresses remaining in place. On the plains of Africa, our ancestors associated a lack of movement with the increased risk of being discovered by predators, depleting resources, and being challenges by rival hominids.
Whether or not the vehicles for this motion possess a Disney theme park full of amenities doesn’t change the appeal of cruises. Without question, making the cars all look and feel upscale is an added appeal but, even then, it is not the perks themselves, but the feeling of power, status, and specialness that comes with an upscale setting. They don’t want the convenience of being served and having nice things, they want the feeling of being important. All of that can be accomplished on an environmentally clean train. It is a matter of refined aesthetics and not the quantity of easy stuff.
In addition to all of that, the idea would make money for railway companies which would raise capital for high-speed rail which would take a large percentage of planes out of the sky and cars off of the road and be a boon for the environment. Furthermore, it could incentivize private investment in nature conservation since, one of the appeals being sightseeing, it is basically a form of fancy eco-tourism. For the customers, it would provide more options for travel in that stops could be made in any town along the route. While there would be no resort or theme park like on a typical cruise. Such things could be built along the route which would improve local economies along the route as well as giving the consumers less artificial means of pleasure. Cruise customers can’t hijack a lifeboat and visit nearby islands or features when they want. Cruise customers, today, are stuck with the plastic and fiberglass games of 90’s Nickelodeon chic.
There are so many reasons cruise trains are a good idea. They are good for the environment and good for the economies often within “flyover country”. They would transform the transportation paradigm of our society and condition us to use cleaner modes of travel. With the planet in the current crisis it is in, any viable methods of saving the planet should be on the table.