Things I Learned on a Cruise – Part One

posted in: family, kids, parenting, vacation | 5

Sorry I’ve been away from this site for so long, but it’s summer and I’m lazy and I just got back from a family vacation. Mostly it’s the lazy part but for the last 10 days I’ve been completely away from a computer.

We went on a cruise.

I had never been on a cruise and neither had my kids. The only one in the family who had been on a cruise was my wife who gets violently ill when she’s in the passenger side of a car so to say I was not looking forward to being covered in her vomit for a 7-day trip to Bermuda would be an understatement.

I wasn’t sure what to expect, other than the vomit thing, so all of this was completely new to me.

That being said, here are a few things I learned while on our cruise.

“Stress-free” does not include getting on the boat

Of course no vacation is complete without first having everything go horribly awry just as you’re about to leave.

As an example I can tell you that for WEEKS we had been preparing to get on the boat by making sure we had the proper documents (passports and birth certificates) which involved checking, double-checking and triple-checking that we had them safe and secure and nothing had expired. We placed everything required to get through security into a little cinch sack and placed it on top of our luggage in the back of the minivan.

We arrived at the cruise terminal in Boston where I dropped my kids and wife off – along with all the luggage and the documents – and then proceeded to park at the nearest parking lot 53 miles away. I walked back to the terminal, greeted my family and then reached into the cinch sack to grab the documents which were not there.


Panic ensued.

Me: Do you have the passports and birth certificates?
Wife: Hahaha very funny.
Me: Not joking.

I felt my left arm start to go numb as I was clearly having some sort of heart failure.

I turned and full-on sprinted back to the minivan. Mind you it was about 98 degrees at 10 AM and the van was parked just short of Minnesota. By the time I reached the van I weighed 12 pounds.

I pulled open the hatch and there, sitting in the well of the trunk area, were our passports and birth certificates which had apparently fallen out of the stupid fucking cinch sack.

I have never been more relieved in all of my life.

The moral of the story: Cinch Sacks are ASSHOLES.

To Suite or Not to Suite

Aside from the minor coronary I had before just boarding, I’d also been having anxiety attacks for the few months leading up to the cruise. The main reason for this is because it essentially cost me a small fortune because we have 4 kids in total. This meant that we had to either (a) get separate cabins or (b) get a suite large enough to sleep all 6 of us.

I can tell you that the price of a suite on a cruise ship large enough to sleep six people will run you roughly 14 million dollars per night. Because I had roughly 14 million dollars less than that, we opted for the cheaper option of sleeping in the engine room with a deal that my kids would shovel coal into the burners for a reduced room rate.

Sadly, we were not booked on the Titanic and this also wasn’t the year 1914 so this option was turned down by our travel agent.

We chose two side-by-side inside cabins without windows because window cabins cost extra as do cabins with doors and working plumbing, apparently.

Honestly, I expected the cabins to be super-tiny little things with barely room to move. Much to my surprise, they were super-tiny with barely room to move.

I guess what I’m saying is that I wasn’t really surprised.

But – if I was to do it again, I’d probably get the same type of cabins because we didn’t really spend much time in there other than to get dressed or undressed or play Twister. That’s because…



We took the Norwegian Dawn out of Boston. The ship, relatively speaking, is small in relation to the other ships in the fleet. However, the boat still had 43 restaurants and a teen club (where my daughter spent 98% of her waking moments), an arcade, casino, theater, lounges and a bunch of other stuff I probably still hadn’t found. On more than one occasion I became ridiculously lost on the ship and found myself wishing I’d brought my FitBit because I would have CRUSHED the weekly challenge. Just trying to maneuver around people in the cabin to put shorts on gave me at least 1500 steps per day.

Did I mention the bars? Oh. There were many bars.

And that’s where we ran into Ken.

Don’t Be The Designated Perpetually-Drunk Passenger

One of the package options we purchased for ourselves was the “Unlimited Beverage Package” which basically said we could drink as much booze as we wanted.

Sadly, with 4 kids in tow, this meant “not much” because I didn’t want to be THAT GUY.

Also, sadly, we ran into THAT GUY. As did everyone else on the ship.

His name was “Ken.”

I first saw Ken as we were waiting to get into a restaurant. He was a fat, sweaty guy with curly hair and was what you would label your typical “obnoxious drunk.” As we sat near the windows waiting to get in, Ken came ambling down the hallway with his wife and two kids. He was clearly drunk at 2 PM and stopped at the bar in front of us telling his wife “I need a beer.”

For the record, he did NOT need a beer.

Subsequently, we would find Ken at pretty much every bar we walked past. Sometimes this was at 10 AM and he would already be completely shitfaced.

We saw him during the parties by the pool.

We saw him during shows in the theater – including a great magic show by a guy named David DaVinci. David turned out to be my spirit animal because he would spend 80% of his narrative dialog during his shows making fun of Ken. It was awesome.

But, whenever this would happen, and Ken would subsequently make an ass out of himself by yelling or going table-to-table to talk to people in his drunken stupor, his kids would try to make him stop. It was heartbreaking for him.

And that’s when this conversation happened one morning – no shit – at 11 AM as I walked up to the pool bar to get waters for my kids.

Ken was sitting there annoying everyone around him, trying to engage them in his drunken conversation when, sadly, he saw me.

Ken [yelling]: I LOST MY VOICE
Me: You need to lose it more.
Ken: I’m sorry. I’m a loud guy.
Me: You’re an embarrassment. You need to apologize to your family for your behavior. How humiliating for them.
Ken: I’m an alcoholic.
Me: Then maybe you should step away from the fucking bar.
Ken: Well, I’m in AA.
Me: You’re in AA? It’s working wonders for you. You need to call your sponsor, like, IMMEDIATELY.

Ken looked at me. He stood up and walked away, ambling over to another table where a couple sat – ready to annoy them by trying to engage in more drunken conversation. The man at the table waved him off and Ken stumbled off to another part of the ship. I walked over and shook the man’s hand thanking him for doing that.

The moral of this story:

Don’t be like Ken.

Eventually, Ken stopped showing up places. The last time I saw him, he was standing next to the band near the pool making his usual ass of himself when he fell down the stairs. Everyone laughed because YAY KEN HURT HIMSELF. We did not see him the rest of the trip. I can only assume Norwegian Cruise Lines set him adrift in the Atlantic.

One can only hope.

And my last point:

I Can’t Wait to do this Again

The ship was amazing.

Our cabin steward – an incredible man named Roderick Reyes – ended up becoming part of our family.

Bermuda was amazing.

We snorkeled. Explored underwater caves. We swam with dolphins. We walked a sea glass beach. We body surfed in the crystal waters of a pink sand beach. Me, my daughter and my son and stepson jumped off a 20-foot cliff into the ocean. We rode in a glass-bottom boat and saw a shipwreck at night. We saw wild chickens. WILD CHICKENS. We saw whales and schools of dolphin leaping from the ocean.

It was amazing. AMAZING.

I love making memories for my kids. I cannot wait to do this again.

I just hope Ken isn’t there.

5 Responses

  1. Arionis

    I’ve always wanted to go on a cruise but having been in the Navy, and still working for them as a civilian, I’m not sure I’d be able to relax. I’d always be thinking I needed to be working somewhere. Of course the 43 restaurants, bars, and casino might alleviate that feeling.

    I still get to go on cruises, but the ships are painted gray. No cabins, just six racks (bunks) shoved into a cubicle, and only one restaurant known as the mess deck. Sadly, we still have Kens, and you aren’t even allowed to drink.

  2. Barb

    I enjoyed reading your blog.

    About Ken and others like him——-Land Bars are supposed to “shut off” customers who are already drunk. Those aboard ships should do the same, whether or not the drunken customer has a UBP.