Cougars and cubs playing on a ship? What may sound like a floating zoo was really the lusty subject of a USA Today feature story about the second International Cougar Cruise aboard Royal Caribbean's Mariner of the Seas that set sail May 16.
The article, "What really happens aboard a 'cougar cruise'?" (titled "'Cougars' prowl the seas aboard The Lust Boat" in the print version), not only provided publicity for the cruise's co-sponsor Singles Travel Company, but also attempted to spin the tawdry behavior between younger men (cubs) and older women (cougars) positively.
USA Today contributor Jayne Clark described the some 20 cougars and 25 cubs aboard as "disparate individuals" who were "looking for love, sex, companionship, an inexpensive cruise, a little R&R - or some combination thereof."
Clark quoted Ann Thomas, the cruise's coordinator, who said she's sad that the term cougars has "such a negative connotation. Men have been doing it for years. Women have too - it's just not as out there."
But it is out there. You don't need to look far to find cougars and cubs in current pop culture including the TV show "Cougar Town" and Hollywood's most famous cougar/cub couple, Demi Moore and Ashton Kutcher.
Cougar/cub interactions may have more mainstream exposure today, but exposure doesn't equate to morality. One "cub" on board openly admitted to Clark that he was there to "hook up. Period." Other cubs had recently broken off relationships and wanted some fun without commitment. One cougar had been through two rough marriages and admitted, "I don't want any more. I just want to have fun."
Other things that Clark highlighted: Sexiest Legs or Best Biceps contests and a naked food fight (just among cubs). Clark pointed out the sensuality and drama without pointing much attention to the lack of dignity, morality and maturity aboard the ocean liner.
Clark never mentioned that Carnival Cruise Line refused to host this second cruise after making a business decision to promote a more wholesome, family-friendly image. Carnival Elation hosted the first International Cougar Cruise back in December 2009.Like this article? Sign up for "Culture Links," CMI's weekly e-mail newsletter, by clicking here.