Draw the Line

Long Line

If there’s one thing cruise ship guests hate it’s waiting in line to see a free comedy show. It fact, some guests get so mad they look like they want to hit me. Only reason they don’t is the line for beating me up is usually longer than the line for the show.

In all fairness, I can see why people on vacation wouldn’t want to wait ten minutes to see a forty-minute comedy show. These are the same people who’ll wait in a three-hour line at Six Flags for a two-minute roller coaster ride. The same people who’ll camp out on Canal Street in New Orleans at nine in the morning for a Mardi Gras parade that doesn’t start till noon and won’t reach them until four in the afternoon. The same people who’ll sleep outside an Apple Store all weekend just to buy the new iPhone even though they still haven’t figured out how to use their previous iPhone. The same people who’ll, on the first night of the cruise, spend forty-five minutes in a Free Liquor Tasting line that circles the lobby of the ship just so they can down a thimble-sized sample of Baily’s Irish Cream. So, yes, I can see why waiting ten minutes for a professional comedy show would be too much suffering for their fallen arches to endure.

There’s something about lines (or “queues,” if you’re British) that brings out the worst in people. On a nightly basis I observe grown adults cut the line, save spots for friends, nit-pick about who was standing where, push and shove, scream and shout, and then become verbally abusive (or “get all Parliamentary,” if you’re British) with me or my assistants when confronted about their behavior. Other guests will refuse to join the line altogether and try to start their own line at the exit of the comedy club, refusing to move as they’re trampled by a stampede of 600 departing guests in search of free pizza and ice cream. It’s nights like that that make me wish there were more icebergs in the Caribbean.

Some of my superiors believe that turning a blind eye to such childish behavior falls under the heading of Good Customer Service. I do not. I believe that when passengers pay for a cruise they are paying to travel on the ship, paying to sleep on the ship, paying to eat on the ship, and paying to enjoy the free live entertainment offered on the ship. They are not paying for the right to interfere with our operation, supplant our policies with their own, defy or disrespect our team members or infringe upon the fun of their fellow guests through rude, selfish or discourteous behavior. For that we charge extra.

In my opinion, passengers are called “guests” for a reason: the ship is our home and they are just visiting. In my cruise line’s opinion, however, passengers should be considered “part of the family.” Fine. But if you ask me, that’s even more of a reason for us to call guests on their crap. I’d love to see our more problematic passengers try to pull the same shenanigans in the home of a close relative and see what happens. Try telling their Aunt Clara and Uncle Eugene how to run their household, spill food on their furniture, leave dirty dishes on their stairs, make noise at all hours of the night outside their bedroom door and speak rudely or disrespectfully to them or their cousins and they’ll find themselves at a Motel 6 faster than they can say, “It may be your house but it’s my vacation.”

I love my job and I love my ship. I also love the vast majority of guests who cruise with us week after week. So, please come sail with us soon. I’ll do my part to make sure you have the best cruise ever. But, to echo something we’ve all heard our fathers say a million times while growing up: If you cruise under my roof, you cruise under my rules.

Got a problem with that? Get in line.

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My Two Sense

IMG_9675

My least favorite part of being our ship’s comedy club manager is turning over the showroom between shows. A hard partying crowd of 600 people can leave enough empty beer bottles and cocktail glasses in their wake to make the Punchliner look like Motley Crϋe’s tour bus. So in order to clean the room in ten minutes or less—and to ensure that guests waiting in line for the next show can get good seats without having to shove a fellow guest overboard—we ask the audience to exit after every performance. Not surprisingly, guests are less than thrilled by this policy, because it forces them to do two activities cruise ship passengers are notoriously reluctant to engage in: following instructions and leaving the sitting position. But I find that if I attach a free drink coupon to some fishing line I can usually coax them all out eventually.

I’ve been told I should look at it at from a guest’s point of view. And I have. Their point of view is that they have the right to ignore the rules because they “paid good money to be here.” They paid good money to fill up their gas tank—does that mean they can run a red light? They paid good money to finish their basement—does that mean they can use it as a meth lab? They paid good money for their cellphone—does that mean they can take a photo of their “junk,” email it to unsuspecting women, lose their spot in Congress and then run for mayor of a major metropolitan city? (OK, bad example.)

Not every guest gives me a hard time about our policy, but those who do make my job way harder than it needs to be. These people have been on the ship less than 24 hours and yet suddenly they’re experts in running a comedy club: “I have to leave now that the show is over and people are already lining up outside for the next one and your staff needs to clean up and reset the showroom in less than ten minutes? That makes no sense!”

“Of course that makes no sense to you,” I feel like screaming back, “You’ve never set foot in our club before! But maybe if you were an experienced crowd control expert who possessed firsthand knowledge of the type of traffic flow problems our carefully considered and thoroughly tested policies and procedures have been designed to prevent, instead of a vacationer seeing live stand-up for the first time, perhaps you wouldn’t be so befuddled. You may have paid to be here but I get paid to be here, so whaddya say you keep drinking yourself blind and I’ll keep doing my job?”

I’ve never understood “that makes no sense” as a guest’s go-to objection to our shipboard policies. Of course it makes no sense: you haven’t received the same training that we have nor are you privy to the same information we are. If you were to take a trip to Dick’s Sporting Goods, I’m sure that the machine that drills holes in the bowling balls would baffle the bejesus out of you. But to the guy who has been trained to drill the holes in bowling balls, the ball hole drilling machine makes perfect sense. And maybe if he were to drill a couple of holes into your skull, it would drain enough “stupid juice” out of your noggin so that from now on you’ll no longer demand that things make sense to you immediately and instead learn how to ask intelligent questions that might lead to you having a wider frame of reference, which will lead to better understanding of our polices, which will lead to you realizing that we have your and your fellow guests’ best interests at heart and have no intention of inconveniencing you or ruining your vacation, so please stop thinking that paying for a cruise makes you a senior vice president of the cruise line.

Similarly, when I board an airplane, none of the dials or levers in the cockpit makes sense to me. Difference is, the fact that those dials and levers make no sense to me makes perfect sense to me–because I’m not a pilot! But I’m pretty sure that if I took flying lessons for a number of years, spent thousands of hours in the air before finally obtaining my commercial pilot’s license, all that technology in the cockpit would one day make perfect sense to me. I’m also pretty sure I’d be even less tolerant of idiots that I am now:

“I can’t believe we have to wait an extra twenty minutes before takeoff just because one of the engines fell off the plane—that makes no sense!”

“Yeah, well, go Greyhound next time, jackass!”

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Fun as Ship

Dream

Most cruise ships offer lots of fun-filled activities such as Bingo, shuffleboard and trivia. Granted, these are things you can do at your local senior center for free. But on a cruise you can win prizes. And nothing says “I’m a better person than the rest of you old farts” like going home with a suitcase full of plastic “ship-on-a-stick” trophies valued at twenty cents apiece.

But if you’re too busy establishing your intellectual superiority over your fellow passengers by taking first place in “TV Theme Song Trivia,” you might miss out on some more satisfying cruising experiences (such as “Movie Theme Song Trivia”). So here are some tips for getting the most out of your next cruise:

  1. Attend the shopping talk.

The Shopping Talk is a brief (six to eight hours) seminar given by your shipboard shopping specialist “Chet,” who will provide you with valuable pointers for shopping in your ports of call. Pointers such as:

  • Only shop in an “approved” store so you’ll get the best deal possible—and Chet will get a commission, a bonus, and a hot oil massage with a happy ending.
  • Never shop in an “unapproved” store because you’ll be kidnapped by Somali pirates and/or ISIS.
  1. Choose the buffet over the dining room.

You can’t go wrong eating in one of your ship’s fancy dining rooms, where you can feast on steak, lobster, fine wine and exotic deserts; however, the high-quality food and superior service may cause you to relax and enjoy yourself (even though you’ll be expected to wear shoes). And since finding things to complain about makes cruising much more enjoyable, you’ll be better off heading up to Lido Deck where you can fight your way through the gluttonous throng in your bare feet. Besides, later on, when you’re down at the front desk complaining about the long lines and limited selection in the buffet restaurant, not to mention the fact that you paid good money for this cruise yet nobody from the Miami offices ever called and advised you to pack footwear for formal night, the Guest Services associate on the business end of your vitriol will be more likely to offer you financial compensation if you have chili-dog breath.

  1. Camp out in the casino.

Screw Las Vegas; spend as much time and money in the ship’s casino as possible. Cruise-ship slot machines are looser than a biker chick with a meth habit. Especially on my cruise line. In fact, you’re going to need a duffle bag to haul all those shiny silver dollars back to your cabin. And I’m not just saying that because the more money my cruise line makes off of delusional chain-smoking gambling addicts like you, the better chance I have of getting a raise.

  1. Luxuriate in the all-ages hot tubs.

What better way to relax on a luxury cruise liner overrun by unsupervised eight-year-olds than with a nice hot urine bath?!

  1. Book an interior stateroom.

Sure, you can spend the extra money for a balcony or at least a porthole if you want, but cruising is so much more adventurous and exciting when you cram your entire family into a tiny windowless cabin the size of your kitchen pantry at home.  You’ll never know what time of day it is when you wake up, and the lack of fresh air with five people in the room will keep things interesting. And, better yet,  you’ll be that much more excited about reaching the Bahamas.

  1. Rent a mobility scooter.

Why should old folks with bad knees have all the fun?  Rent a scooter for your cruise and skip to the front of every line.  Crew members will take pity on you and wave you past the long parade of upright losers waiting to be seated for dinner or a production show, without so much as a second glance. Thankfully, it will never occur to them that the last person who needs to be advanced to the front of a line is someone who is—wait for it… SITTING ON A MOVING CHAIR!

What does it matter if Grandma has to wait a few extra minutes to sit down for dinner or a show if she’s already sitting down?! Allowing someone to cut in front of you because they have a scooter is like trading your seats behind home plate with somebody in the bleachers because he has binoculars hanging around his neck (or something like that only funnier).

So rent a scooter. You’ll get special treatment and you can zip around the ship drunk, running into stuff and knocking over people with actual mobility problems.

  1. Use your cell phone as much as possible.

If there’s someone in your family whom you couldn’t afford to bring along on your cruise, be sure to call them every day that you’re at sea. The amount you’ll rack up in roaming charges will make it seem like you paid their way.

  1. Book a cruise with one or more “tender ports.”

When a port lacks a pier big enough to accommodate cruise ships, it’s what we call a tender port. A tender is a boat that takes you from the ship to the island in the time it would take you to swim. Tendering is lots of fun because you get to wake up early, report to one of the ship’s lounges with hundreds of other tired and impatient guests, and wait for hours on end watching CNN on the big screen with the sound off (so you can hear all the screeching babies and screaming toddlers sprawled out around you) until you decide to jump overboard and swim ashore.

Once on the island, you’ll be free to slouch around in the scorching heat for ten minutes trying to find a discount T-shirt shop with functioning air conditioning until you finally realize that you’re in a third-world country that doesn’t really have all that much to see or do so you might as well get in line for a tender back to the ship, where you can be laughed at by all the experienced cruisers who stayed on board.

  1. Purchase a shore excursion from a local vendor not in any way associated or affiliated with your cruise line so that you can either miss your non-refundable tour due to the ship arriving late or miss the ship after your tour ends because the bus carrying you back to the pier is ambushed by guerrilla fighters.

Fun times!

         10. Complain. Complain. Complain.

If you really want to have fun on your cruise, don’t spend your days laying out by the pool or relaxing at the bar. Instead, make frequent trips down to Guest Services and complain about anything that comes to mind. If your complaints are inventive enough, the ship’s Guest Services associates will often offer you financial compensation just to shut you up. If you’re unlucky enough to cruise on an awesome ship like mine, however,  you’ll be hard-pressed to find many legitimate issues to complain about. In that case, here are a half dozen doozies to get you started:

  • “The sound of the ocean keeps me up at night. Can you turn it off?”
  • “My cabin doesn’t look the same as the photo on your website. That cabin had blue carpet; mine has red. Can you please make the switch while I’m upstairs in the ship’s gift shop complaining about merchandise I bought on land?”
  • “It’s too hot on the open decks. Can you ask the Captain to turn on the air conditioning outside?”
  • “It’s too long of a walk between decks. Can you shorten your stairs?”
  • “The midnight buffet is too late at night. Can you reschedule it for noon?”
  • “I hate discos and disco music. Yet every time I go into the disco all I hear is disco music. Can I have a free cruise?”

So there you go. Use my tips and your next cruise is guaranteed to be your best vacation ever.

If not, you can always walk the plank. Make a big enough splash and you just might win a prize.

Refugee Rhapsody

cuban flag

Last cruise, we rescued 40 Cuban refugees in a small, rickety watercraft which had been adrift at sea for over two weeks. We fed them, clothed them, and gave them medical attention. They’re now proud members of our Housekeeping Department.

Just kidding. The bean counters in Miami would never authorize the extra uniforms.

We tried offloading our unexpected guests in Montego Bay, Jamaica, but they took one look around and said, “Screw this dump—take us back to Cuba!”

That’s exactly what happened, too. Three days after the rescue, our Captain announced we’d been ordered to turn over our Cuban visitors to the U.S. Coast Guard in International waters via vessel transfer. According to U.S. law, Cuban refugees who reach U.S. soil are allowed to stay in the country. Those who are intercepted at sea are returned to Cuba. Can you imagine being rescued after 15 days at sea with little food and water and no cover from the elements only to be told you were being sent back?

CUBANS:

Help us!!

CRUISE SHIP:

We will bring you aboard!!

CUBANS:

Yay!!

CRUISE SHIP:

We will feed, clothe and take care of you!!

CUBANS:

Yay!!

CRUISE SHIP:

Then alert the United States Coast Guard!!

CUBANS:

Yay!!

CRUISE SHIP:

Who will then return you to Cuba!!

CUBANS:

Say what?! Um, sorry to have bothered you, but we’re OK now. Actually, the combination of sun and salt water is quite good for our skin. So you folks go ahead and continue on to Jamaica—sorry to interrupt your cruise. So what if our engine died two weeks ago and we’ve been drifting without food and water for hundreds of nautical miles? We’re in no hurry to get anywhere. It’s not like we have work in the morning. Besides, we have plenty of sandals to eat and urine to drink. We’re sure your ship is nice and all but we think we’ll stay here on this disintegrating ark of plywood and two by fours and take our chances with the freaking sharks! Hasta la vista, baby!

It’s a bittersweet feeling to know that you’ve saved somebody’s life only to return them to a life they so desperately wanted to escape. And that’s how most of us crew members felt for the first day after the rescue. But by day two we were like, “Where the hell is the Coast Guard?! We want our crew bar and crew Internet lounge (where the refugees were billeted) back!”

Although it’s natural for human nature to creep back in after the adrenaline of a crisis wears off, this doesn’t lessen the emotional impact of the rescue. It was quite a dramatic event. Once our cruise director made the announcement that the nighttime rescue was in progress, hundreds of crew members and guests crowded onto what we call the Lanai Deck to watch the little boat packed with waving and shouting Cubans bob up and down in the rough sea, the laser- bright beam of our ship’s searchlight making it look like a scene from a movie. We all cheered as the Captain, using our thrusters, positioned the ship so that the refugees’ boat gently kissed our starboard side as Security opened the gangway doors on Riviera Deck. Guests applauded in relief when they saw the refugees being led out of the boat onto our ship. What they didn’t see were all the overworked crew members who tried to escape into the boat:

“Let me out of here—If I have to make one more towel animal for a demanding and unappreciative American guest I’m going to kill myself! Cuba, here I come!”

If you were to work on a cruise ship for one day, it wouldn’t take you long to see how silly and self-involved some guests can be. Last cruise, some guests actually went down to Guest Services and complained that, since we interrupted their vacation in order to rescue Cuban refugees, they should be monetarily compensated. They felt that we had endangered their lives by bringing “potential Somali pirates” aboard and therefore they felt entitled to a free cruise.

First of all, maritime law commands us to assist any vessel in distress and to embark its passengers if that vessel is no longer seaworthy. Secondly, how exactly do 40 dehydrated Cubans pose a danger to 4,500 drunken Saints fans from New Orleans? Thirdly, we’re  several thousand miles away from the coast of Somalia. Besides, even if Somali pirates were to board our ship, we’d put them to work immediately:

SOMALI PIRATES:

We are Somali pirates! Take us to the Bridge!

HOUSEKEEPING MANAGER:

No—you’re going to swab Lido Deck just like the schedule says! So put down those rifles and grab a mop, you lazy bastards, before I put my big Guatemalan foot up your skinny African asses!

SOMALI PIRATES:

Oh, did we say Somali pirates? We meant to say Cuban refugees—take us to the crew bar instead!

I’ll tell you how we should have compensated these people: we should have kicked them into the Cubans’ rickety piece-of-crap boat and then told them to drift aimlessly without food and water until another cruise line stops to pick them up: “I’m sure just about every cruise line will pass you eventually, so take your pick!”

With any luck, the Cuban Coast Guard would pick them up and return them to Idiot Island.

Ship for Brains

jerks

Although Cruise Critic reviews can tell you which ship offers the best bang for your buck, one thing they can’t tell you is what your fellow passengers will be like on any given cruise. Pick the wrong sailing date with the wrong guest demographic and your vacation can go from Cape Canaveral to “Cape Fear” faster than you can say, “Here comes Honey Boo-Boo!”

Even if you book the most poorly reviewed ship in the fleet, the biggest negative surprise of your cruise will be what troublemakers some of your fellow cruisers can be. Those tan lines above their feet? That’s where the house arrest ankle bracelets used to be.

Although TV commercials always make cruising look like a care-free adventure, take it from me:

  • No matter how luxurious your stateroom may be, you won’t get any rest if your quarrelsome neighbors sound like they’re auditioning for “The Jerry Springer Show” on their balcony every night.
  • No matter how incredible the food and service in the dining room may be, you’re not going to enjoy dinner if the family next to you lets their sugar-addled rug rats run around the table, screeching their heads off as if taping a telethon for Planned Parenthood.
  • No matter how efficient and understanding the pursers at Guest Services may be, you’ll never get to the front of the line if 20 members of the same Idiots Anonymous chapter “didn’t know I had to pay for them items in my mini-bar!”
  • No matter how funny the comedians in the ship’s comedy club may be, you can’t enjoy the show if the trailer-park CPAs behind you are fighting over the check, trying to figure out who the hell ordered a drink called “gratuity.”

Sure, everyone has to put up with troublesome neighbors at home or work alongside first-class boneheads in the office; you expect that. What you don’t expect is to pay thousands of dollars to embark upon the vacation of a lifetime only to have it ruined by a handful of inconsiderate knuckleheads whose foster parents never taught them how to behave in public. Expect loud drunks to swear repeatedly in front of your children. Expect giggling morons to drop ice on you from the upper decks. Expect thoughtless jerks to light up cigars in the hot tub. Expect complete idiots to leave their empty coffee mugs in the middle of the stairs so your mother-in-law can fall and break her hip. Expect selfish pigs to swipe the last four slices of banana cream pie from the buffet without asking if you or one of your kids would like one. (OK, you can expect me  to do that, too.)

Bottom line, if you think you’re getting away from the Real World by going on a cruise, you’re wrong. Thanks to an abundance of affordable fares on the Internet, the same blockheads who make your life miserable on land are going to follow you up the gangway, dragging their knuckles behind them. They will cut in line in front of you at the buffet, chat loudly during production shows, and hog a big block of deck chairs for relatives who are never showing up—all the while being totally oblivious to how uncomfortable they’re making you feel or how badly they’re intimidating your children.

These days, cruise lines are doing whatever they can to fill every ship to capacity. The more empty cabins, the more money they lose and the harder it will be for them to keep their prices down. Unfortunately, reduced fares and on-board credit incentives mean more people who’ve had their campers repossessed are trading camping for cruising, meaning more people to heatedly debate the verisimilitude of Pro Wrestling right behind you while you’re trying to enjoy a romantic sunset with your special someone.

Fortunately, the majority of people you’ll meet on your cruise will be friendly, helpful and entertaining. You might even make a few new friends for life. In fact, the number of nice people you’ll meet will allow you to suffer the fools more gladly and, more than likely, encourage you to book another cruise right away.

But as for the imbeciles, nitwits and pinheads? Remember, it’s not a crime to push somebody overboard as long as nobody sees you do it. Besides, that won’t be the first time somebody’s “gotten away with murder” while cruising.

Have Tank Top, Will Travel

Tank Top

When packing for a cruise, don’t forget something nice to wear on Elegant Night. If you don’t own a tuxedo or evening gown, a tank top or sweat pants will do just fine. Just make sure they’re clean.  It is Elegant Night, after all.

Elegant Night isn’t what it used to be. Dressing up is optional now because my cruise line doesn’t want to alienate the lucrative “Duck Dynasty” demo by forcing them to wear anything that needs to be ironed. From a business standpoint that makes perfect sense: disgruntled guests spend less money so why risk upsetting a high roller who won’t even splurge on a pair of ten-dollar dress slacks at T.J. Maxx?

Before making Elegant Night more convenient for the sartorially challenged we need to ask ourselves,  “What kind of nighttime atmosphere do we want to promote on our ships? An elegant atmosphere where guests can delight in looking their very best for a couple of hours?  Or a relaxed atmosphere where guests can enjoy a refined seven-course meal in swim suits and flip-flops? Do we want guests to feel like they’re on a luxurious ocean liner in the Caribbean or at a KOA in Jacksonville?”

I think you know the answer: Viva Trailer Park Chic!

Oddly, my cruise line seems to care more about the wants and needs of our less sophisticated first-time cruisers than those of our more urbane repeat guests. Unfortunately, the more we coddle the common herd, the more we disrespect our classier customers who are more appreciative, more cooperative, and tend to spend more money on board. But because classier guests tend to bitch less, we’ve started to tailor our policies to the complaints and grievances of a few flip-flop philistines who, for example, feel discriminated against because “them treadmills in the guest gym ain’t got no ashtrays.” If I tell some shirtless biker with a giant flaming skull tattoo on his chest that he can’t enter my comedy club before donning the “Who Farted?” tank top he has slung over his shoulder like a Captain Trailer Park cape, he wheels his pimped-out Rascal Scooter down to Guest Services and threatens to have his entire Hell’s Angels chapter boycott the cruise line. Consequently, my cruise director is forced to give in and tell the guest that, because we truly value the patronage of a part-time drug mule who bought this cruise at the last minute on CheapAssCruises.com thanks to the $200 settlement he got on “Judge Judy,” that giant flaming skull tattoo on his chest does indeed count as a shirt.

“But, Boss,” I’ll say, “What about all the wealthy Platinum and Diamond members sitting next to him in their tuxedos and evening gowns, wearing looks of disgust and astonishment on their faces?”

“Well, if they’re so wealthy, how come they can’t afford a nice tank top for Elegant Night?”

Children of the All-You-Can-Eat Corn

children-of-the-corn

If your main reason for going on a cruise is to get away from your kids for a week, make sure you pick the right week. If you go during summer vacation, winter holidays or spring break, you’ll be trading your kids for other people’s kids. And after watching them charge around the ship with no supervision, knocking over old ladies with walkers, crashing into waiters balancing huge trays of nine-dollar drinks, and cannon balling pool water onto your Kindle, you’ll wish you had brought your kids along just so they can throw these little Grandsons of Anarchy a beating.

Although most ships have one or more kids’ clubs that keep the little angels occupied during the day, the nighttime is when they grow their fangs and sprout their demon wings. If you’ve cruised before, you may have observed them in the hallways, on the stairwells or in the elevator lobbies well past midnight:  Gangs of preteens roaming the ship like prepubescent marauders–laughing and shouting, blasting Miley Cyrus on their iPhones without headphones, riding the elevators up and down for no reason, and just plain annoying the hell out of anyone unlucky enough not to own a tranquilizer gun with a laser sight. Sure, you can call Security, but Security will always say the same thing: “Sorry, sir, but we asked those kids if they were causing trouble and they said, ‘No’.”

Although teenagers and preteens can be loud and obnoxious, a disapproving stare is usually enough to settle them down. It’s the little kids with no “off” switches that’ll drive you crazy.  Cruise at the wrong time of year and you’ll be surrounded by sugar-crazed kiddies hijacking the ship like miniature Somali pirates. Kiddies screeching in the dining room. Kiddies crying in the comedy club. Kiddies peeing in the hot tub. Kiddies looking innocently up at you with cute, excited little faces just as you’re about ready to kick them down a flight of stairs, causing you to pat them on the head and say, “Have fun, sweetheart—but be careful!” instead.

Even though I love children and am used to them wreaking havoc on the ship, my fantasies of punting them overboard never last more than a second or two. That’s how long it takes for me to imagine what I’d do to their parents, instead, should I find them. (Which is impossible because the majority of parents remove their children’s leashes at the beginning of the cruise, never to see them again until claiming them on the luggage carousel in the terminal at the end of the cruise.)

As the cousin of the parents of two wonderfully behaved youngsters who managed to enjoy their first cruise on my ship immensely while causing no trouble whatsoever, I know it’s possible for kids to have the time of their lives without ruining the cruise for adults.

Unfortunately, my cousin and her husband were fined heavily by my cruise line for their children’s exemplary behavior. Apparently, the front office feels that well-behaved kids risk ruining the fun vacation atmosphere we’re known for. That’s why every parent is supposed to receive a “Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Complete Idiot: Cruise Ship Parenting 101” pamphlet that helps children enjoy their cruise more than the people who actually paid for it.

“Complete Idiot’s Guide to Being a Complete Idiot: Cruise Ship Parenting 101”

  1. Never know where your kids are and if they’re stampeding round the ship unattended, yelling, screaming and disturbing other passengers, do not stop them. Just because a crew member has chastised them multiple times doesn’t mean this conduct is unacceptable. In fact, get that crew member’s name because it’s been a while since we’ve made someone walk the plank.
  2. The public restrooms are for grownups, so if your kids have to pee, that’s what the “adults-only” hot tub is for.
  3. Do not ask your children to say “Please” or “Thank you” when being served in the dining room. “Honey Boo-Boo” never learned table manners so what makes your kids so special?
  4. Sit exhausted toddlers in the front row of the comedy show because the only thing comedians love more than a drunken heckler sitting two feet from the stage is a wailing three-year-old.
  5. If a show in the main theater isn’t suitable for your tiny tots, drag them along anyway. Having them play distracting computer games on a tablet or whine “Mommy, I’m bored!” for an hour straight will force the passengers seated around you to pay better attention to the show, thereby enjoying it more.
  6. Show zero respect for the ship’s property. If you catch your child doing something you would never tolerate in your own home, such as yanking down on the lever of the frozen yogurt machine until all the yogurt empties into a pile on the floor, be sure to laugh your head off and snap a photo.

So the next time you want a break from your kids, don’t go on a cruise—go to Chuck E. Cheese. It’ll be much quieter.