I just didn't think the plot was any more contrived than that from the classic era.Ok I kinda feel like David Mirkin like in the commentaries, laboriously explaining obvious jokes, but that's just because it annoys me when people throw out an incredibly lazy inferences like 'well there was unrealism/wackiness in the classic era and you didn't mind it there'. As the above example shows, those so-called contrivances were well-written, and was used to comedic effect far beyond the novelty of something unrealistic being on screen, which is far more than can be said for 99% of tonight's episode. So y'know, that's a complete non-starter of an argument.
In fact, I was rather impressed how much the plot justified itself. The episode showed why Bart wanted to go on the cruise, and answered how a family of modest means would pay for it. Rather that than winning a prize and Lisa proclaiming "The Simpsons are going on a cruise".
I didn't have a problem with the cruise exceeding expectations. It's not that much of a stretch, and I thought it was a much more interesting angle that the obvious one of it being crap and disappointing.
Really, my only problem was that the fake virus plot was a bit too silly and Scully-era-esque.
I think the recent episodes with Matt Selman as show-runner are the best episodes in over a decade. The dialogue isn't as sharp as the glory days, but the visual gags have returned and the plots are grounded, coherent and interesting. They aren't always going for the cheap, obvious gags either, and there isn't needless unfunny wackiness.
Better than I thought The Simpsons could possibly be in Season 23.