There’s a storm of indignation over on Carnival cruise director John Heald’s blog this week (466 comments and counting) – and the debate continues on our own message boards (which went so off-topic the thread has had to be deleted).
A Carnival passenger called Ralph has complained to John about women breastfeeding babies in public on cruise ships, claiming it’s ‘disgusting’ and that ‘none of the workers did anything when I complained’ (you can only imagine the scene). Ralph hoped that Carnival would instigate a policy on breastfeeding in public and felt that other cruisers would agree with him.
Well, he was wrong, not least because no cruise line in its right mind would ban breastfeeding; let’s not forget that women worldwide have fought long and hard for this right, which is now protected in many countries by law.
So several hundred responses later, the overriding opinion was that Ralph should get a life, or simply look the other way if he didn’t like what he saw. Having said that, among all the anti-Ralph comments, a few cruisers have asked for a little discretion when it comes to feeding a child in public.
Cruise Critic member Dee777 says: “Yes, breast feeding is natural. But have consideration for others who may not want to see your breasts, or want their children to see them.”
RuthlessBoss is more candid: “No way is it right to have to feed that baby in a dining room full of people while others are trying to eat. Call breastfeeding natural, it is, I breastfed, but there’s a time and place.”
Cruise Critic member Talex831 points out: “Anyone who voices anything deemed negative about breast feeding is immediately blasted. The whole ‘most natural thing in the world’ is not the feeling everyone shares and heaven forbid they vocalize it.”
Fair enough – some people are a little bit uncomfortable with ladies who feed infants and perhaps let a little too much hang out. But you could argue, and many do, that there are far more offensive displays of flesh on cruise ships than a mother feeding a child. The massive, wobbling beer bellies; the too-small string bikinis; the tiny Speedos that leave little to the imagination. Crop tops over muffin tops; and shirtless, sweaty bodies at the buffet queue.
And yet… doesn’t making this point simply reduce us to Ralph’s level? One person’s horror is, after all, another’s vision of, er, beauty. How much is too much? What’s your limit of tolerance when it comes to flesh on display on your cruise? Tell us below.