Travel and Leisure — July 17, 2015 at 5:00 am

The Sport of Cruising

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sport of cruisingYes there is a sport to vacationing on a cruise ship, even with the drinking because there are specific skills required in doing it properly.

Booking It
I’m the master at finding a good deal, or as The Wife puts it, I’m “a cheap tightwad.” Why pay full price when there are so many deals to be had? It’s probably more gambling than sport the way I risk everything on waiting until the last minute but hey, they show poker on ESPN so gambling is now a sport right? Of course, if you wait too long you may not get on board, and then you’ll be benched from arranging trips ever again. Then you have to weigh the chances of missing the boat if you fly out the day of the cruise. This involves trusting the airlines to do what they say and what they promise, but that isn’t sport, that’s just stupidity.

Finding your Cabin
These ships are like a mouse maze and will test your patience and sobriety. Sure, anyone can find it that first afternoon, maybe after a few failed attempts. The test or sport of it is to find again after a couple or five Pina Coladas.

Hall Walking
The corridors are luckily pretty narrow so you won’t bounce too hard when to go side to side down the hallway, but you will bounce around. It’s bad enough if the ship is pitching to and fro but add in those five or eight Pina Coladas and this becomes a sport, or comedy act depending on if it’s recorded on video. When observing other passengers bounce off the walls you can go ahead and just assume they’ve had those ten Pina Coladas.

Deck Chair Roulette
Just as in beach resorts, nabbing and keeping a deck chair is a sport of its own. The last cruise I was on there was not a single chair available by the time I got up on deck and I got up early to find one. That is if you consider noon early, which I do when its’s my vacation. It was so crowded I was forced to find a spot on the adults only, topless deck which I suffered through like a champ. Some passengers get up even earlier than me and go throw a towel and a book or something on some chairs, then they disappear for hours. Well, game on folks. When they finally return they can’t find their stuff because it’s about 40 miles back, floating in the Gulf of Mexico.

It’s a Feeding Frenzy

There are up to and sometimes over three-thousand passengers on some of these modern-day cruise ships, and more than a few of them are there just for the buffet. They don’t care what the ports-of-call are, who’s performing in the theater, or to work on their tan. They’re there for the food and maybe the bingo, too. You do not want to get behind one of these foodies in the buffet line. Nothing’s worse than watching the person in front of you empty out that pan of chicken, clean out the scalloped potatoes, and don’t even think you’ll get any cheesecake if you’re behind them. You can spot them easily by the gravy stains on their clothes and the drool on their chins—all three of them. The sport of it involves timing, agility and speed along with the danger of getting in between one of them and their food.

The Bar Tab Dash
Bar tabs can get huge on cruise ships. Sure, you can get a room including your meals for pretty cheap, but they kill you on drinks; you even pay for Cokes. Cash is not passed on board as your room key subs as a credit card. You will get your bill on the last night and if the salty sea air hasn’t sobered you up by now, your bill will. The game is on to get other people to put your drinks on their tab. Some folks are better than others, so if you don’t play well, you’ll be buying their drinks. They say cash tips are not accepted on board, but I have yet to meet a bartender—and I have met quite a few—who will turn down a tip. Tipping early will sometimes get you a free drink or two slipped your way. This may not be honest on the bartender’s side of things, but I can’t be in charge of everyone.

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