I’m not sure how many blog posts I’m going to milk out of the cruise, but there is much to be told.
Cruising reminded me a lot of summer camp. There are Activities Staff all over the place and a daily newsletter reminding us to play bingo! Join a team for trivia! Sing karaoke! Check out our version of X game show! There’s singing, dancing, magicians, an aerial show, a 70s night, a sock hop, a calypso party at the pool. Time to limbo everybody! It’s as if we are all small children with a short attention span (which is not to say that we aren’t). A lot of the activities are really fun, but sometimes it’s just a lot coming at you all at once.
There are field trips in each port of call. Join the shopping excursion! The Hemingway tour of Key West! Learn how to scuba/snorkel/jet ski/water ski/parasail/other ways to injure and embarrass yourself.
And then, people. Strange people. Well, not necessarily strange, but at a bare minimum, strangers. You’re around them all the time, forced together any time you’re in the dining room, in particular. You fall in to the fine art of non-committal small talk.
But unlike camp, these are probably not people with whom you will stay a pen pal for many years, and one day become FaceBook friends when things like the interwebs and social media are invented. There is no pretense that you will stay in touch beyond the cruise, and no reason to, because you have nothing in common, and possibly you find the other person, well, uncommon. For example, one woman we had lunch with a couple of times expounded on the virtues of Ben Carson. He is measured, reasonable, smart (umm, OK); and bonus round (!), a Washington outsider. As if someone who doesn’t know the first thing about politics or how to get deals done on the Hill is somehow uniquely qualified to do exactly that for the next four years, or lord help us, eight years. Her second choice is Ted Cruz, but she’s not sure.
So, my tongue now has several distinct holes in it where I was biting it to keep from slapping her and asking “What the f*ck are you thinking? Snap out of it!” I picture it as kind of a Cher in Moonstruck moment, but we all know that in reality I would be facing assault charges. And at a minimum, it would certainly have made the rest of the meal awkward. So there I sat, with a crooked smile frozen on my face, while Dan squeezed my hand, hard, presumably as a reminder that this was not the time nor the place to be, umm, me.
Our dinner companions were quite nice, and we enjoyed chatting with them, but the third couple who were assigned to our table didn’t come back after the first night. We assume they asked for a table reassignment but none of us are sure why, or what we might have done to offend them that first night beyond asking them to pass the butter.
There are even staff who function basically as camp counselors. Our cabin attendant Gloria, and dinner servers Randolph and Velma, became our confidantes, and the source of inside information on how to get the best of the cruise. Randolph and Velma brought us special treats from the dining room, and Gloria crafted adorable towel animals to surprise and delight us each evening. Frankly, if we were going to stay in touch with anyone, it would be those three, who made our cruise really fun.
The bottom line is, we had a lot of fun, despite the Tender #12 fiasco. And we may decide to cruise again. But then again, we may not. Either way, you will be subjected to hearing about it, in agonizing detail. You’re welcome.