Monday, November 9, 2009

The Truth About Cruises

I had envisioned sitting at the dinner table and handing each of my daughters an envelope with $100 cash. They would open it up and ask, “What’s this for?”
I would reply “Pack your bags girls, we’re going on a cruise!!”
“When?” they would ask, excitedly.
“Our plane leaves in the morning!” I’d say. And they would squeal with delight and fight each other to give Daddy hugs and kisses before running off to their rooms to pack. Denise would kiss me and tell me how wonderful I was for planning this great surprise, revealing her amazement at how I was able to keep the cruise a secret. The look in her grateful eyes would promise a vacation filled with passion and romance.

my oldest daughter, Sherri, had a part-time job and would need to ask off work. So I decided to spill the beans and tell them about the cruise a couple of weeks in advance.

The news of the cruise was not greeted with the great joy I anticipated. Denise and the girls seemed to be overcome with a sense of panic because they only had two weeks to prepare. Apparently females can’t just pack-up and go on a cruise. They all had to get manicures, pedicures and haircuts. They had to make numerous trips to the tanning salon.

We were going on a cruise for goodness sake; why couldn’t they just get a tan on the ship?

They also had to buy new clothes and bathing suits. Never mind the fact that neither the people on the cruise ship nor the fine people of the Commonwealth of the Bahamas had ever seen their old clothes or their old bathing suits. My girls spent more money “preparing” for the cruise than I had paid for the trip all-together. This stress-free vacation had become stressful before we even set sail.

Surely things would be better once we were on the boat.


Cruise lines are evil companies that exploit the intricacies of the female psyche. When you board the ship, they have a photographer take your picture against a fake background. Then they display the pictures in the main hallway of the ship and charge $30 for them.
They send troops of photographers to follow you around to snap your picture at the various theme parties, formal dinners, shore excursions etc. And they don’t just take one picture and move on. They make you do different groupings.
“What a good looking family, everybody say ‘party’”…click, click… “O.K. Just Mom and Dad”…click, click… “Now, just the girls”…click, click, click, click… “Now just this daughter”…click, click… “Now, the other daughter”… click, click.

Denise felt obligated to buy all of these “official” pictures. Never mind that we had a digital camera and could take our own pictures; these pictures came in a protective, high-gloss, official cruise line display folder, made from some of the finest cardboard on Earth.

After buying enough pictures to fill another suitcase, I decided to start making goofy faces so Denise wouldn’t want to buy the pictures. On evening when we were in our cabin, Denise was looking at some pictures. “I can’t believe you made a face like that” she said.
“Why on Earth did you buy that?” I asked.
“If you don’t buy them, they leave them on display in the hallway. Do you want everybody on this cruise ship seeing you look like that?”

Another evil thing the cruise line does is issue you a cabin key that is not just a cabin key. It is also a credit card that can be used on all the ship’s gift shops, boutiques, spas, salons, clubs and casinos, and is happily accepted at certain establishments in the various ports of call. I missed that somewhere in the fine print. I thought that the cruise ship must have just had incredibly good bargains for my daughters to be buying so much stuff with the $100 I had given each of them to spend. My girls were wearing new stuff that they had bought on the cruise ship instead of wearing the new stuff they bought back home for the cruise ship.

The female mind offers further proof of God’s sense of humor, albeit cruel at times.

A final beef I have against cruise lines is that they engage in false and deceptive advertising. I had envisioned our cruise being a time for great family fun where we could relax, hang out and enjoy one another's company. Nowhere in the cruise brochures did they mention that they allow teenage boys on the ship.

This discovery was not comforting for a father of two beautiful daughters with new tans and new bathing suits. Not only does the ship allow teenage boys, it has a special club on board that you must be UNDER 21 to enter. How was I supposed to spy on my daughters?

This cruise vacation cost me twice what I had budgeted and was twice as stressful as any vacation we had ever taken, and to top it all off, I gained seven pounds.

With all said and done, if any cruise line out there would like to give my family and me a free cruise to alleviate their guilt, I am willing to reconsider all the bad things I said about cruise lines. I may even write something good about them in my next book. In fact, I may even start my next book on said ship and list said ship in my acknowledgments. Please call or email me soon. I need a vacation.

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