The Tale of Why I Don’t Do Cruise Ships

I get it. I really do. A cruise ship seems like a convenient vacation. It’s basically a resort going to special, exotic places, all the while entertaining you with an enormous complex of lights and flashing and music. It’s big, bold, in your face, relaxing (to many), and usually affordable for what all you get. The allure of an enormous ship is difficult to deny. I myself went on a cruise, and I can’t say it wasn’t fun at times. But it kind of wasn’t fun a lot.

I have no regrets about our family cruise, as it was affordable, convenient, and a way for all of us to get together in one spot. It wasn’t likely my father would be able to travel on another big trip anytime soon for health reasons, so when he announced that we should all cruise, I was gung-ho.

Walking up to the ship and seeing it was amazing. It felt like waiting in line for an incredible amusement park ride. The fact that a hotel, casino, water park, movie theater, and multi-bar/restaurant/snack joint mega complex can exist in one spot, let alone float on the fucking ocean, is incredible. And I ate it up. Totally. Completely excited when I first got there. And I dove in head first.

I could not believe how huge the damn thing was. And it was one of Carnival’s medium sized ships, methinks. All was well and happy, the drinks started flowing, the towels were folded into weird animal shapes…I was sold. And I think I spent most of the time drunk. Pretty sure I did. That would explain a lot.

Because what else could I do? I really couldn’t possibly see myself, knowing who I am, facing a cruise sober. I’m kind of an introverted extrovert. I like getting out and doing things, but people can just stay in their own bubbles. My experience on the cruise was that it was just a large boat party. Personal space is your cabin, which is nice, but small and rocking. This cruise was over a decade ago. I had not as much confidence then as I do now, and my need to relax was often met with heavy drink.

On the first night, we all went to one of the bars. I got silly drunk and thought it would be funny to sign up for karaoke. My song of choice was “Total Eclipse of the Heart” by Bonnie Tyler. But the reason I chose the song was to do the Dan Band version featured in Old School by Will Ferrell.

But…that’s only funny because it’s just part of the song. Me, I trudged through putting swear words wherever I felt reasonable, which was twice per line. The karaoke dude cut me off and kicked me off the stage where I met my sober father asking me sincerely, “Why would you do something like that?” Yeesh. I hardly ever disappointed the man. Felt awful. Which meant I needed more drinks to ease that pain, of course.

As you might have guessed, it didn’t get much less sloppy from there. We had a few stops, including one in Nassau where a prostitute immediately solicited my wife. Another one of the stops was at one of the Cays owned by Carnival. We got a cabana compliments of one of my family members who won big at a slot machine before drunkenly revealing to me that my parents divorced because my mom cheated on my dad, a secret my dad had kept for over fifteen years because he didn’t want his kids to have that impression of their mother. Oh well. At least the cabana was fun. We ended up in the water a lot, with my sister’s husband at the time getting the drunken idea that we should all throw an orange at each other as hard as possible. At some point in that game, I lost my wedding ring in the water. Somehow, we found it. Thank God for clear, sandy beaches.

By the time the cruise was over, I felt completely sick, as could be easily expected. At one point, while going out to get another drink in the evening, I slipped on the deck and cracked the back of my head. I had a goose egg that stuck around for a week. On top of this, I couldn’t ditch my sea legs for at least 10 days. There were plenty of fun times, I assure you, but I can also assure you that I don’t remember them all that well because…alcohol.

So, I spent five days on a cruise ship whooping it up and making a total fool of myself in front of my family, and then spent the following week and a half trying to quell the nausea, diarrhea, headaches, injuries, and the fact that the entire world around me swayed back and forth with alarming regularity.

I realize that I had the option to do the cruise sober, as I would now if someone dragged me aboard one. But I can’t say I would/could/should. It wasn’t a bad idea to ride a Carnival cruise completely intoxicated, as it kept my mind off of all the things that could’ve gone wrong. Despite all of my terrible self-inflicted suffering from my Carnival cruise, the following years would provide regular details as to how truly harrowing a Carnival cruise could have been. 

The following are true stories of cruises, with links provided.

The Carnival Triumph, or better known as “THE POOP CRUISE”:

Oh man. This one earned its name, for sure. In 2013, an engine problem of which Carnival was aware beforehand caused the ship to lose power and drift off into the Gulf of Mexico without a working septic system. In fact, the septic system backed up and the cruise employees had to put biowaste into bags that they lined the halls of the guest rooms with. People had to deal with this nightmare for eight days until they were brought to shore. Until then, some guests found it easier to just poop and pee off the side of the boat, hence, “Poop Cruise.” And there was no way to get these people off the boat. Not enough resources, they say. Hmm…

The Carnival Ecstasy, or as I call it: “The Shining Cruise”:

Fair warning, this one is shocking and not the least bit funny. I work ER and have seen some shit, but I never thought a scene like the Shining elevator scene could be possible. Yet, in 2015, an electrician working on top of an elevator aboard the Ecstasy was crushed to death when he was pinned between the moving elevator and the wall. The resulting tragedy caused a wall of blood to drip from the eighth floor down through the seventh. Witnesses said it sounded like a rush of water. There’s video of the incident out there if you aren’t squeamish.

But that’s enough of that, let’s get to my favorite Carnival disaster, something a lot more lighthearted:

The Carnival Dream, or as I call it: “The Jon Secada Solution”:

This one was also in 2013, which was a particularly bad year for Carnival. But a similar situation to the Triumph occurred in that the ship lost power, resulting in air conditioning, elevators, and toilets either malfunctioning or not working altogether. What’s also fun to learn as you go digging into these disasters is that when power goes out, perishable food is unavailable, probably to help prevent all the norovirus outbreaks and other GI distress that has happens on cruises. What this means is that the crews only serve shelf-stable food, which often times is Spam. For real. And this was the situation on the Dream, but in this case they tried to ease the burden of overflowing toilets, Spam feasts, and the inability to return home by offering two key solutions: free booze and Jon Secada. Do you remember Jon Secada? Need a refresher?

Yes. The best jam. It’s in your head now. Maybe not. Try some free booze and watch the video again. See? That’s better.

So that was it. Booze and Jon Secada. Let’s try and look at this from another angle. The ship had NO POWER and it said it couldn’t GET THE PASSENGERS HOME, the passengers are relieving themselves OFF THE SIDE OF THE SHIP in between doses of SPAM, and they fly in Jon Secada in a helicopter, let him perform, and then fly him away.

“That Jon Secada performance was pretty good. But where’s he going?” 

“Oh, he’s leaving. Going home.” 

“Why can’t I go–” 

“You bought the ticket, so ride the ride! Now grab some Spam and a daiquiri. You’re on vacation, after all!” 

This is in no way an exhaustive list of cruise ship disasters, nor is it a complete list of Carnival cruise ship disasters. I honestly have no idea how they’re in business. I must be doing cruises wrong, because people obviously love them enough to forgive and forget.

Yes, I realize that there are plenty of safe cruises every year, and they are the bees knees for some people. And I also realize that bad things can happen on any vacation. But I just can’t fathom a problem happening with my hotel and suddenly I’m pooping off the balcony in between Jon Secada sets. These are exclusively cruise ship risks.

My wife and I went to an all inclusive resort in Cancun for our anniversary and we had a ton of margaritas with ice…a big no-no. I think we were sick for a week afterward, but we still were able to go home when we wanted. I’ll take that over Jon Secada, though just barely. That song is still in my head. So catchy.

But I will also add the detail I should disclose…I sunburn so damned easily. If I spend too long getting the mail, I’m pink for three days afterward (I might be embellishing, but hopefully you caught on to that). Most cruise ships go hot places, so if my cruise ship got stuck, I would die a Spam-stuffed, free-booze-soaked death to a Yacht Rock soundtrack. That’s just not the way I want to go. I’m allowed to live my life how I want, okay?

And I have my own preferences that cruise people don’t. For instance, I know that a lot of people hate camping, but I love it. And I’ve begged disaster when camping. But that’s another story for another time…but it has something to do with bottle rockets and various places to launch them from.

Until next time, it’s just another daaaaaaaay…

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