Friday, April 1, 2016

Ten shocking, funny, strange, amazing, and annoying things I have encountered on small cruises...

Last night over dinner, Bill and I were talking about some of the things we've seen on any of the seven cruises we've been on so far.  Cruising is a lot of fun, but if you're on a small vessel, you can end up rubbing elbows with fellow passengers more often than you would on a larger ship.  Sometimes, that extra contact leads to making new friends.  Sometimes it ends up being way too close for comfort.

I write this, knowing that I have probably inspired a few blog posts or Facebook rants myself.  Indeed, on our first Hebridean cruise, I faceplanted in the dining room right next to the buffet on a formal night.  I bet a few people who were cruising with us remember that incident.

This post may or may not be for the faint of heart.  I just thought it would make for a funny blog topic.  All of these stories are true, though I have tried not to be too specific in the interest of not embarrassing anyone (too much).  If anyone else wants to share an anecdote, feel free in the comments section.

10. A man with a mustache resembling an overgrown caterpillar. 

On our second SeaDream cruise, Bill and I were mingling among the newly embarking guests and happened to sit down with a British couple we ended up hanging out with all week.  As we were checking out the new folks and making small talk, a man walked by with his very large group of family members.  He had a very unusual black mustache that pretty much demanded that you look at him.  Our new British friends were commenting on the way the facial hair was styled and the wife quipped, "It looks like an overgrown caterpillar!"  Leave it to the Brits to come up with such a hilarious and truthful assessment!

9.  A woman with an electric fan in her cleavage.

On our very first SeaDream cruise in 2010, there was a woman from California running around with a tiny electric fan clipped to her tank top.  It blew breezes toward her face.  We were in Puerto Rico and it was very hot.  I had to applaud her genius!


Wow!  Such ingenuity!  

8.  Some German guy's balls...

While cruising in Italy a few years ago, I happened to be sitting on the pool deck, trying to catch a few chilly mid May rays of Italian sun off the coast of Amalfi.  While I was sitting there sipping prosecco, a young German guy, who had just been using some of the ship's water sports equipment, casually changed out of his bathing suit while he was on deck.  I noticed he was trying to be somewhat discreet, but I still ended up with an eyeful of his family jewels.  Later, I was talking to a woman from Northern Ireland who confessed that she'd also gotten an unsolicited look at this guy's junk.  While nudity is definitely not a big deal in most of continental Europe, I sure got more than I was bargaining for as I gazed at Amalfi's famous coast.

7.  Brawl in the piano bar.

One night, while singing hits from the 70s and 80s in SeaDream 1's piano bar, I witnessed a drunk and belligerent man calling out a bunch of partying Norwegians because he thought they were being too loud while he was trying to sing.  There we were, singing "Just The Two of Us", and this guy suddenly got pissed off and demanded that the Norwegians "step outside".  Fortunately, the Norwegians had cool heads and declined.  For a minute, I thought a couple of people were going to have to walk the plank!

6.  Liquor theft in the piano bar.

On the same evening of the same cruise, the cagey drunk guy and another guy decided to slip behind the bar and help themselves to scotch.  Most of the liquor was actually included in the price of the fare, but I had to admit being surprised at their moxie.  Fortunately, they were not busted by the very competent Portuguese bartender who brooked no nonsense and made a mean mojito.

5.  Fractured facts and annoying anecdotes about America...

On a recent cruise, Bill and I were two of only four Americans on a very small ship.  One of the other Americans happened to have a voice that carried and a mouth that rarely stopped running.  While sitting on a bus, waiting to go on an excursion, she regaled fellow passengers with strange stories about poor people in Appalachia force feeding their babies Mountain Dew, *fish* (not shrimp) and grits in the South, and tales of her parents forcing her to drink warm powdered milk when she was a child.  I kind of wished I'd brought along my noise canceling headphones, but we kept hearing snippets of fractured facts throughout the week, no matter where we were.

4.  Raging paranoia...

We met one couple from Texas on a cruise.  They were pretty nice to talk to, though the husband was a little bit on the odd side.  Once the cruise was finished, we went back to our homes in North Carolina and Texas respectively (this was before our year in San Antonio).  After our trip, I somehow ended up getting uninvited correspondence from the husband, who was first upset that SeaDream had sent us a cookbook as a gift and he and his wife didn't get one.  Then he said he'd made a film of the cruise and posted it unlisted on YouTube.  He offered to send us the parts of the film he had taken of us.  He offered to send us the links, but there were many strings attached.  He said we weren't to share the links with anyone and had a whole list of other rules designed to protect his privacy.  Apparently, it never occurred to him that perhaps Bill and I value our own privacy.  Neither Bill nor I like to see ourselves on camera, though Bill patiently puts up with me photographing him all the time (because I love him and mostly manage to get good shots).   Since I didn't actually want to see the video, I tried to politely explain that we weren't interested.  He wrote back that he didn't understand, so I found myself forced to be blunt.  Naturally, that didn't go over well, but at least he quit emailing me.  Not that I mind being in peoples' videos or photos.  That's going to happen when a person goes on vacation.  I just don't necessarily want to see the photos or videos unless they happen to be flattering.  ;-)    

*Speaking of unsolicited photos...

Here are a couple of unsolicited photos the aforementioned partying Norwegians took of me with my camera while I was singing to Bill...



I think I look pretty horrible in these photos.  I had a terrible blistering sunburn; my hair was all messed up from the humidity; and I felt as big as a beached whale.  But I kept the pictures because I love the way Bill is looking at me and the night itself was a lot of fun.  I guess I should appreciate the unsolicited pictures, even if they do make me feel kind of icky about my appearance.  Damn narcissism!

3.  Bolt ons galore!

I confess that before I took a small ship cruise, I had never heard of the term "bolt ons" to describe breast implants.  But on our first SeaDream cruise, a Canadian lady used that expression to describe the apparently perfectly perky breasts of a very attractive trophy wife type woman who was on the ship.  Whether or not that particular woman actually had bolt ons, I don't know.  But since that cruise, I have seen a lot of obvious bolt ons.

2.  Celebrities!

On our first SeaDream cruise, we ran into a couple of celebrities, neither of whom I initially recognized.  One was a star of a then popular reality show that I couldn't watch because we lived out in the boonies and didn't get TV.  The other couple had discovered and launched the music career of a very popular female rock star.  I ended up becoming Facebook friends with the rock star couple, which has been a source of a lot of fun for me, mainly because I am a music geek.  We struck up a conversation after attending the worst karaoke show I've ever been to!  On another SeaDream cruise, a German guy surprised everyone by taking over the piano player's piano and delighting everyone with a live performance.  I can't be sure, but I have a feeling he, too, was in the music business.  He came over and gave me a big hug when he was finished!  Sometimes music can lead to unexpected bonding!  

1. Hand job at the dinner table... 

While cruising through Scotland on the tiny Hebridean Princess, Bill and I were two of four Americans onboard.  The other American couple happened to be sitting within my line of sight, next to a wall in the ship's dining room.  She was a brilliant but extremely introverted medical doctor who also had a PhD.  He was a much more outgoing professor of literature from an Ivy League university.  As we were eating, I happened to glance over their way and noticed the female half gazing intently into her husband's eyes.  He was doing his best to keep a straight face.  I looked down and saw her hand kneading his package while the rest of us dined on Sunday roast.  I must say, Hebridean Princess is the last place I would have expected to see something like that!

I'm not sure when our next cruise will be, but it will probably be on a small ship.  And if it is, I am certain I can add to this list of misadventures.  

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