Friday, November 12, 2010

Eschew the Cruise

You might have heard of the so-called “Nightmare Cruise,” Carnival’s 1,000-foot boat “Splendor” that drifted helpless in the Pacific Ocean last week after an engine fire. Power failed, toilets backed up, helicopters dropped emergency supplies of Pop Tarts and Spam, and, according to one passenger, “a lot of people were getting smashed off warm beer.”

Sounds like a typical week at my house, really. What’s the big deal?

After six tug boats towed the ship to San Diego, it became clear that this would become one of the most amusing and surreal mainstream news stories to appear in quite some time. Here are two actual quotes the Associated Press got from disembarking passengers:

“It was nothing like it was advertised in the brochure.” Hmmm... You don’t say?

“This could be the only cruise where people lost weight instead of gaining weight.” Sign me up!

A 42-year-old man was one of the first of the 4500 vacationers let off the ship because it was his birthday. So much for women and children first.

What kind of sociopathic twit looks around at their fellow passengers, including old ladies who had not been able to get their own food for days because elevators weren’t working, and says, “Can I go first? I’m turning 42 today.”

I have never been on a cruise. And I probably couldn’t go if I wanted to, either, because my wife can’t deal with feeling even remotely trapped. This is a woman who suffered a panic attack at Disney’s “Spaceship Earth” a mere 20 yards from the start of the ride because she thought there would be no way to get out if something went wrong. This was after we had already passed four clearly marked emergency exits.

So I can’t speak from experience regarding cruises. But I have seen “The Love Boat,” and I have watched a video on Youtube called “Pacific Sun Cruise Liner in Heavy Seas” (necessary viewing), which qualifies me as an authority on all maritime matters.

On a cruise, you’re isolated in the middle of nowhere with a few thousand other people who mainly want to get drunk. In other words, it’s just like living in rural Maine. You might as well just stay home and save money.

Oh, sure, cruises have swimming pools and live entertainment. So does Las Vegas, or even Boston. The advantage of those places is you can leave if something goes wrong, and the chances of drowning or being eaten by a shark are relatively small.

Granted, cruises are usually “all-inclusive.” Unlike visiting a major city, there is no need to figure out meals or transportation. Paying strangers to take care of all your basic needs appeals to a lot of people who apparently also can’t wait until they’re old and feeble enough to be admitted at an “Assisted Living” facility.

Cruise ships do occasionally stop at exotic ports, which are usually named “St. John.” But nobody dares disembark for fear that they’ll not have enough money to bribe the crack-dealing cab driver to not leave you with the sex traffickers.

So take it from me. Avoid any vacation that you cannot run from.

In fact, why don’t you come stay for a few days at my house. I’ve got Spam!

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