On Thursday of our cruise week, we were anchored in the harbor of Santa Cruz, one of five populated islands in the chain. After chasing Darwin finches and hanging out with giant tortoises during the day, we were entertained onboard ship that evening by a local Galapagon band and native Ecuadorian dancers, a special treat. After about an hour of singing and dancing, it was time for dinner, and I found myself the first one downstairs in the dining room. Steve, our friendly, spic-and-span steward, stood patiently behind the serving line, waiting for my fellow guests to arrive.
“We’re going to be a little late tonight, Steve,” I said. “Some of us are still upstairs dancing.”
Steve looked at me, smiled, and came as close to rolling his eyes as a professional steward on board a cruise ship ever dares. “I know,” he said. “It happens every Thursday night.”
That’s when it struck me: One person’s once-in-a-lifetime experience is another person’s cookie-cutter Thursday night. In fact, our entire cruise to the Galapagos was actually the practiced craft of a team of trained professionals offering a series of carefully tested, cookie-cutter processes that insured guests were safe, sound, and on schedule as their once-in-a-lifetime experiences unfolded.