Velvet Elvis overboard: Junky cruise ship art is now returnable


For a while now, art auctions have been one of the biggest money-makers on the seas. On uneventful travel days, passengers are invited to so-called fine art viewings and auctions in the ship's "gallery," which is often just a corridor or a dormant dance floor. Once they arrive to have a gander at the "museum-quality" works, they're usually plied by wine. Then, without the benefit of prior market research or price comparisons, people make on-the-spot purchases for that (future yard sale) item that they just simply have to own.

I won't say that cruise ship art is bad, because everyone has their own tastes. But I will say this is not stuff you're going to see at Christie's, unless Rembrandt ever did super-saturated landscapes starring Snow White, or Francis Bacon attempted colorized photos of the Rat Pack (pictured, on a Princess ship). But that's exactly the kind of stuff the cruise lines'' "fine art" departments try to sell passengers after a long day of piña coladas and free buffets.

I also won't call these kinds of events scams, because lots of people already have, pointing out that because they happen in international waters, consumer protection is scant. I have myself already pointed out the free alcohol, which says a lot, too, and which has a documented history of making ugly things look attractive.