Wonderfully Awful: I Fricking Love Cruises!


a blogumn by Robin Rosenzweig

cruiseshipI just got back from a week-long cruise to the Caribbean and it just reaffirms what I’ve always felt…I really fricking love cruises. They have the perfect amount of international culture, free food and old people that one could ever desire for a vacation.

Old people, you say? Indeed, if there’s one thing to expect on a cruise, it’s to be surrounded by lots and lots of old people. The fun prognosis can be mixed depending on the ship and the destination. I took a cruise to Alaska last year and each night, the bars and lounges turned into ghost towns at approximately 8pm. We would find ourselves walking the halls on a nightly basis looking for even the remotest sign of life, but not even eternal sunshine was enough of an incentive to keep the old folks awake.

This is in stark contrast to my most recent cruise, where everyone (myself included) lived a very active senior lifestyle. I took two line dancing classes (when in Rome, right? Or on a cruise, as it were…) and both were jam packed. And I was the youngest person in the room by about 30 years. The uber-hip ice-covered Martini Bar was always overflowing with people, so much so that I didn’t even get to experience its uber-hipness until the second to last day. And then there was the card room…oh, the card room! That was the most happening place on the boat, always jam packed with silver foxes and foxettes getting their bridge and their mahjong on.

One of the best places to meet and befriend old folks was the buffet. Food is generally included with the price of a cruise, so experienced cruisers (and even those of us who are not quite as experienced in age) know to make the absolute most of it to a somewhat terrifying degree. Here’s a sample list of daily meals: full buffet breakfast, full buffet lunch – including my beloved daily pasta bar fix, formal dinner where one can order as many appetizers, entrees and desserts as one desires, late evening buffet snack, and end of night room service. Sure, upon my return I may be limited to wearing baggy pants with an elastic waistband. But “getting your money’s worth” in regard to the included food is an integral part of cruise ship culture, so I’m certainly not going to take a break from stuffing my face to question it.

On my recent cruise, I fell in love with Caribbean island culture. I was particularly fond of the rum punch reward system they seem to have set up on the islands. If you accomplish something…anything…you are rewarded with rum punch (which always had far more rum than punch. I think by punch, they mean orange food coloring). We went mountain biking in St. Maarten and were given rum punch afterward as a reward. We snorkeled in St. Kitts and managed not to die in the process, so they gave us rum punch for a job well done. After a while, I began to wonder if rum punch was the official currency of the Caribbean. It would certainly explain why everyone was so happy all the time.

Now that I am back, I have to re-learn how to cook my own meals, use cash instead of rum punch in exchange for goods and services, and get used to the lack of daily encounters with charming old folks. But at least I have my memories…particularly of the aforementioned charming old people pole dancing after being plied with rum punch. I’ll say it again…I really fricking love cruises.


flickr.com photo credit: Scott Ableman