A famous cruise t shirt once said, “I like big boats and I cannot lie.” I am neither famous nor a t shirt, but I have been on one cruise. And since this was my first cruise ever and most of my prior knowledge about cruises came from the occasional Love Boat rerun and the ill-fated Speed 2 movie, this review may be as helpful as Speed 2 was entertaining. Yet after three days aboard Royal Caribbean’s Majesty of the Seas Bahamas voyage, I believe I can help prepare all of you to be a real Dread Pirate Roberts on your next cruise.
Three characters you will meet on any cruise
Captain Ron: This is the overworked office employee who’s taken in a little too much sea salt. Although he’s not a crew member, he thinks he is. While everyone is swaying back and forth like drunks on the first night, Captain Ron can be seen yelling commands like “hoist the mainstay!” “Avast! Batten down the hatches ya landlubbers!” and “Where be my speedo?!” to bewildered waiters and housekeeping staff. He usually dons an unopened Hawaiian shirt, awkwardly brown tan, wind-frazzled wispy hair and an optional wooden parrot attached to his shoulder.
Abercrombie Axel: This is the frat boy who goes shirtless everywhere on the ship, just because he can. At least one night of the cruise is “formal dinner night” where passengers get dolled up in order to spend more money posing in front of backdrops of smiling, jumping dolphins and photoshopped sunsets. Abercrombie shows up with cut off jean shorts and a slim fit, muscle exposing, clever cruise-themed shirt. Stay classy, Abercrombie!
Drunk Deangelo: This is the passenger who starts walking upright and balanced when the boat is swaying with the waves. I met DD during a “Battle of the Sexes” game where he staggered on to the stage and was somehow chosen to be the captain of the men’s team. The final challenge involved both teams forming a forward-facing line with legs shoulder width apart. Each team member, starting with the one at the end, had to crawl through until the whole team had passed through the tunnel. However, when the men’s valiant team captain crawled in, he misjudged the length of the journey and shot up halfway like one of those whack-a-moles, racking the billiards of another fellow. I never knew observing drunk people could be so much fun.
Other Maritime Merriment
When we weren’t watching the colorful parade of people on board, we had the choice of other maritime madness such as night club dancing, karaoke and trivial pursuit championships. Since “Shut up and Dance With Me” was not available on the karaoke lineup (read this story for more on the power of this song) and my club dance moves expire after anything post ’99, my only place left to shine was at the trivial pursuit showdown. Since our vessel had top notch facilities, we envisioned the trivial pursuit championship as a full-on Vegas-style game show, with Pat Sajak and Vanna White guest starring. With the massive amount of useless information gathered in my brain over the past 40 years, I knew I would be crowned Trivia King of the Seven Seas and take home a new car. However, when we arrived at the designated location, we found a gathering of about 15 elderly people surrounding a lounge piano. Our presence brought the average age down to 70. Driving this tug boat of fun was a lonely 20-something Australian girl who probably drew the short stick of “cruise activities.” She was reading off trivia cards unceremoniously, repeating them loud enough for the contestants to hear. No Pat…no Vanna…no car. The most exciting part of the game was when she was reading off the correct answer to “Name Snow White’s seven dwarves”. A silver haired mutiny rose up against the lass when she insisted that that question was worth one point and not seven, much to the crowd’s chagrin. We left right before they tossed her on one of the wheel chairs and threw her overboard.
You’ll find the staff on cruises to be very helpful, accommodating and informative. Just how informative is what I wanted to find out. Sure they could tell me where the casino was, that the captain did not resemble Captain Obvious and ‘no, sir, we don’t have a crow’s nest’…but I needed more useful information. I approached one of the security guards: a no-nonsense, stocky, young man of Filipino descent checking passengers as they get on the cruise.
“Excuse me…where’s the brig on this ship?”
“You know…the brig. Where you put unruly passengers or mutinous chefs.” I was ready for a full tour of an exotic underwater cell.
“Ohh..we don’t have that. Those passengers get put back in their cabins and they can’t come out until the ship docks.”
“We also put a security guard outside their door.”
“So, it’s like a grown up time out?!”
“I guess so. They can’t leave until the ship reaches the next port.”
“I guess i’ll have something to write in the post-cruise satisfaction survey after all. Thanks.”
I could write more about my “fat kid in Willy Wonka’s factory” experience at the 24hr buffet, but i’ll leave that for a sequel.
In conclusion, I highly recommend setting sail on your own adventure on the seven seas. Relax and tan your moon on the top deck pool or keep it classy, like me, and ask fellow passengers to take pictures of you posing as “Jack, king of the world!” at the bow of the ship. And although the only pirate you will encounter is Captain Morgan, you’ll still have a swashbucklin’ good time.