CRUISE SHIP CREATURES
A Field Guide to the Curious Cruising Creatures Who Holiday On Cruise Ships
It seems that a ‘news worthy’ brawl on cruise ship has increased my sales… Hilarious eh? That subject resulted in a conversation where colleagues asked me to post opening some chapters on my blog… So here you are… This is some of what I write… The other books will be posted Friday, that is, once you get over this little insight into cruising life… If you like Cruise Ship Creatures then please share it with everyone!!!
Have you ever been on a cruise, or are you considering sailing on a cruise ship? Well, if you’re a bit of a people watcher, then this audiobook will provide some cruising entertainment. Using this field guide, you can spend hours fascinated by the numerous “Cruise Ship Creatures” and breeds that emerge on any given cruise.
With that in mind and with the intention to add a bit of fun to those lovely sea days, here is your perfect opportunity to spot a whole variety of “Cruise Ship Creatures”.
CRUISE SHIP CREATURES
by Ruby Allure & Michelle Dry
Copyright Michelle Dry
This book shall not be lent, resold or hired out by way of trade or otherwise without the author’s consent. All rights remain with the author: Ruby Allure & Michelle Dry
Proofed by Lynda Shea
Disclaimer: the following set of Cruise Ship Creatures are a fictionalised version of many years of cruise ship guest observation, an amalgamation of random characters if you like. The stories are a fictionalised version of the numerous incidents that take place on board on a daily basis.
For all those wonderful people I worked with on ships.
You asked me to create this – so here it is…
I hope it makes you belly laugh as you remember many a bizarre incident!
Have you ever been on a cruise or are you considering sailing on a cruise ship? Well if you’re a bit of a people watcher then this book will provide some cruising entertainment. Using this field guide you can spend hours fascinated by the numerous ‘Cruise Ship Creatures’ and breeds that emerge on any given cruise. With that in mind, and with the intention to add a bit of fun to those lovely sea days, here is your perfect opportunity to spot a whole variety of ‘Cruise Ship Creatures’. An inspired moment began the process of documenting and grouping the creatures into easily recognisable breeds for the keen-eyed deck explorer to play with.
After an accidental collision with a half-naked old man in leopard skin undies we were underway with potential shippy creatures. The posterial thong-sident provided the first ‘Cruise Ship Creatures’ title: A ‘Leopard Skin Lovely’, even though the experience wasn’t so lovely because he had a very hairy bottom and particularly skimpy leopard skin knickers. A couple of days later I managed to photograph a guest with a huge bouffant that aligned perfectly with the sun. This type of guest filled me with awe because I could illuminate what was effectively her bun. Illuminated buns were an inspiration to me so I had to share the story with as many people as I could. When I relayed the glowing bun story I called my inspiration a ‘Bouffant Banshee’, which seemed to strike a chord with many of my colleagues who could visualise her in an instant. A bouffant bonanza ensued, during that cruise we ‘spotted’ numerous bouffant arrangements. Whenever we noticed a huge back-combed bouffant then we would say ‘Did you spot it?’
‘A Bouffant Banshee’.
Within my department we were all spotting Cruise Ship Creatures and naming them. Obviously this was a fun cruise safari escapade but there was no consistency within the cruisey creatures because they had never been compiled before. So one day on deck we were spotting quite a variety of cruisy creatures and decided that it would be wonderful to have a decent reference guide to make sure we had spotted them. As you can imagine, I took my inspiration from the hard work of Darwin and divided the ‘Cruise Ship Creatures’ into breeds and individual cruisey clusters. Please enjoy.
THE MORE OBVIOUS CRUISE SHIP CREATURES BREED
When spotting the ’Cruise Ship Creatures’, it is worth beginning with those that are obvious and in larger numbers. That way you can start your observations with a sense of success. There is nothing worse than ’Cruise Ship Creature’ spotting and not spotting one of the little blighters listed below. The reason the below ’Cruise Ship Creatures’ are easy to spot is that they appear pretty much on every cruise and they are the type that gravitate to shippy sailing stays. Some of them may come across as a little negative, yet as with all creatures some have a positive influence and others are a little testing. We can learn from their behaviours and notice common patterns within them. That is the joy of such exploratory escapades!
THE ‘I HAVE DONE SO MANY CRUISES’
There are plenty of these cruisey creatures around and I find that when I previously hosted Officers’ tables the ‘I Have Done So Many Cruises’ take their opportunity to share every cruise they ever experienced. The conversation often begins with ‘When my wife and I started cruising over fifty years ago we went on… One of our favourite cruises takes you to the remotest part of… We prefer cruises that go to places such as…. ‘
What you find with these lovelies is that they will take every opportunity to tell people how many cruises they have been on. Reciting their extreme cruising adventures makes them feel admired. During the Welcome Aboard Party the conversation will be on an entirely different subject and ‘Boom!’ suddenly there is a tenuous link that provides perfect opportunity for the ’I Have Done So Many Cruises’ to hold court. The best way to utilise this creature is to find out which are the best and the worst cruises they have experienced. Also find out which cruise lines they have enjoyed and others they avoid. This cruisey creature is an asset for your future cruise bookings as long as you don’t experience your eyes rolling backwards in your head and drop into an unintended nap after a twenty minute monologue on the time that the Captain collided with the dock in Venice.
THE SCOOTER RACERS
The scooter phenomenon demonstrates the evolution of humanity. When I talk about scooters I am not talking about those fun children’s scooters. Instead, I am referring to those tank-like devices that have replaced electric wheelchairs. They are the ones that have baskets and can be used to transport all manner of human form over quite a variety of terrain.
When I first returned to ships I was astounded by the number of people who transported themselves on scooters. When it came to life boat drill there was a moment when all the souped-up scooter drivers would arrive at once at the muster station. It was like watching a wall of old Hell’s Angels descending on the theatre. It was quite a fearsome sight. A wall of old people, huge people and random people all on scooters driving at one door as though it was a race was terrifying. For some reason I thought there might be a rules of the scooter road. I was wrong. Scooters don’t seem to follow any rules, instead it is a free for all and every scooter for themselves. In fact, I had to ask them to park nicely as a couple began ramming each other or nudging the others. Times have changed with scooters; at one time people didn’t take them seriously. Suddenly the scooter phenomenon came into vogue. There are all manner of scooter to choose from. In the mature age bracket some carry a sense of kudos by individualising their scooters. I have seen golden flames on the sides and scooters adapted to the mods and rockers styling with numerous mirrors. Maybe that is the way forward, backward and down the stairs. As long as the scooter has bling then it doesn’t matter how it is driven.
Some of the strangest scooter moments have included watching a lady reverse out of a lift. After colliding with the door a number of times and watching the door almost close on her, I was about to offer her help but she gave me a certain look that said ‘I am doing this!’ This is when I learned that many scooter drivers really don’t want help. Sometimes when you offer they shout ‘I can do it myself!’ It was as I was about to ask her if she needed assistance that she suddenly figured the angle out, put her scooter on full reverse throttle and charged backwards down the stairs. She hit the wall, rebounded and went forwards down the next set of stairs. When she arrived on the landing she continued to her destination as though she had planned the manoeuvre. My concern is that as she gains scooter power she will start ram-raiding.
Another example of the extreme scootering caught my attention by the gangway. Ever thought you would witness two people playing chicken on a scooter? Well it seems that once a person gets their super scooter, then they are going to rule the scootering world! They come first and everyone has to respond to them or get out of their way. Their scooter antics make them a scooter of power! This may work for one person but when a few people adopt this scooty attitude then that is when things become dangerous. When I say dangerous we are talking potential carnage. So imagine this: two souped-up scooters both with drivers carrying the same kamikaze attitude. One scooter had flags and streamers while the
other was blinged up with gold: gold mirrors, gold plating – gold everything. Both intended to get to the gangway before the other. Both came from opposite directions. Both saw each other and revved their throttles to full speed. An expression of determination combined with flatulence appeared on both of their faces. The old dear had long white hair trailing down her back and the bald old chap wore goggles like those worn by fighter pilots in the 1940s. As the pair gained speed people jumped out of the way while both scooter maniacs put their heads down and focused. It was as though they were involved in some kind of speedway, and guess what happened? It was immaculate because neither was going to beat the other and neither was going to give in. So what happened? They reached the gangway at the same precise moment and collided with each other. ‘Boom!’ One was thrown from the scooter and the other thrown over the handlebars which kept the throttle moving, pushed the other scooter out of the way and directed her down the corridor. The entire atrium stood in silence and then the miracle happened, the gold scooter driver stood up, got back on his scooter and drove down the gang way a grin. ‘I won,’ he muttered.
There was also the phantom scooter menace. She had arrived at a point in her life where she simply did not care. She carried a bottle of whisky and drunkenly drove the scooter. Yep drunk and in control of a scooting device. She drove over people’s feet and then drove at people. At first she got away with it but then she met a new friend and the pair became extreme. Her new friend was in a wheelchair and what she would do was drive past, he would grab onto the back of her scooter and she would go to full throttle with him clinging on screaming with delight. In one of the ports the pair managed to find a duck sounding hooter. So not only did the pair drive around the ship at full speed quacking, they became menaces to the other guests. There were times when the pair set up ambushes to drive out of random areas at unsuspecting guests. In the end the pair were pulled in and advised they would be disembarked if their behaviour continued. The duck quacking scooter driver sobbed apologetically but on the final day of her cruise she was back to her drunken scooter driving antics. She had one day left and she was going to give it some erratic driving welly!
THE WORLD CRUISERS
There is no denying that the ’World Cruisers’ are a type. They are an exclusive club of individuals that have enough disposable income to be able to spend between three months to six months a year on a ship. That is quite a lot of disposable income and an enormous amount of available time. Many of the world cruises are over a hundred days. Imagine being able to holiday for over a hundred days per year. There are regular ‘World Cruisers’ who take world cruises year on year. In fact, when I worked on one of the more exclusive ships (that catered for millionaires and billionaires) there was a woman who had accumulated fourteen years on that specific line. She was in her eighties; however, if you think about it she would have spent at least six months per year cruising over twenty-eight years or alternatively three months per year over fifty-six years. This woman had more time cruising on the ship than most of the crew who worked on the ship. On some ships she had spent more time on board than the Captain. To make her situation increasingly fascinating was that she had arrived at a point where she didn’t bother getting off in every port. She said she had been to the places so many times that she did not see the point. What she loved about being on the ship was that she was looked after and served. This makes you understand why there are those, in the elderly bracket, who would prefer to spend the twilight years of their life on a cruise ship rather than stuck in an old people’s home.
Back to the world cruising creatures and how to spot them. Quite often the ‘World Cruisers’ carry or wear branded items from the world cruise revealing a previous world cruise they experienced. They usually have bags that list ship names, previous world cruises and the year. They bring one of those bags for each year that they have taken a world cruise. When you are in the cruise terminal there will be suitcases that have world travel stickers on them, there may even be a hint of Phileas Fogg style suitcasery.
‘World Cruisers’ usually form a ‘Worldie network’, a globe-trotting gang if you like, when they arrive on the ship for the world cruise. Usually they know all the staff and the majority of the world cruising guests. When ‘World Cruisers’ gather they often reflect on the great times, and those times when world cruises have gone terribly wrong. What makes it fascinating is at the time guests were in uproar over storms, missing ports and random events. Had there been any pitch-forks within reach then there would have been numerous casualties. Yet when ’World Cruisers’ gather at the beginning of the next world cruise, they reminisce as though the pitch-fork wielding incidents were fond times. They have a tendency to reflect fondly on the time the ship was hijacked by aliens or some other random event with a dreamy expression on their faces. The ’World Cruisers’ chuckle and smile about the time a giant octopus emerged from the depths, or the time the ship surfed the Tsunami (please note these are made-up incidents. There have been no actual ship alien abductions that I am aware of). In general the world cruise has between a few hundred and a thousand guests (depending on the size of the ship). Each of those guests can take part in a world circumnavigation voyage for a hundred days or more. Now imagine what that does to people other than enable them to gain a few stone in weight, generate a huge amount of gossip in the launderette and become accustomed to being served on a daily basis. There is of course an increase in the purchase of Panama hats and Pith helmets. Oh I think this leads perfectly into the next cruising creature: the ‘Do you know who I Am?’
THE ‘DO YOU KNOW WHO I AM?’
There are self-important people, there are people who feel they are entitled and there are the ‘Do You Know Who I Ams?’ of this world. These ‘Cruise Ship Creatures’ stroll around with a sense of deserving, they often have their noses at a forty-five degree angle and are known to click their fingers to gain a waiter’s attention. Most of the time they are harmless until the inner ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’ rises to the surface. That inner demanding child usually turns up when there is a queue or no places left on a tour. They put on their tweed jacket and riding boots or their best suit to stand at the reception desk or tour desk to make their demands. Some get so irate that they slam their hands down on the desk. When they don’t get their way they take a deep breath, their head looks as though it will explode and they then reach for the obvious and tried and tested trick ‘Do You Know Who I Am?’
You’re a dick! That’s who you are.
I love watching the reaction of the person who is on the receiving end of the comment especially when they completely ignore the demands and make no response. Of course the receiving party have heard that little beauty before. Of course the ‘Do You Know Who I Ams?’ have to pull out all the stops and name drop. Of course they know all the high ranking Officers and all the important people in head office. It never works, it gets boring and even when people do know who they are then selective amnesia is definitely the best course of action. What the ‘Do You Know Who I Ams?’ don’t know is that they are moved to the bottom of the pile because they are annoying. The louder they shout, the more they get in the end… In the meantime, there is satisfaction in knowing that the crew on board are not interested, they are doing a job for everyone. So knowing who someone is doesn’t change that. Oh and sometimes you don’t actually want to know who they are.
Spending time on a cruise ship, with numerous days at sea, is the ‘Reader’s’ idea of heaven. Nicely lit decks where you can bask in the sun and read that book you have been longing to read but haven’t had time is a real joy. You see people with iPads, hardbacks, paperbacks, audiobooks and digital readers dotted around the decks during the day and night. Each ‘Reader’ seeks a place of solitude to escape into that novel. I will be honest; this is also my idea of heaven. What makes it increasingly ideal for the ‘Readers’ is that there is usually a library on board and a place that enables book swaps. Lovely eh?
Of course some people can’t just read, there are the extreme reading creatures. Yep they are out on deck in storms and rain engrossed in reading that novel. There are some who I have even passed by who sit up by the funnel reading their holiday book. Obviously the idea of getting lost in a book seems to have been misread and interpreted as being lost in a bizarre location with a book. There have even been instances where ‘Readers’ have been found in some secret nooks and crannies including a cupboard. Yep, a comfy chair, a headlamp and a cupboard space provided the perfect opportunity to escape into a novel. My favourite was a chap who was on deck at 5.30am reading his book. It was 5.30 in the morning and I wondered whether he had been there all night. I would complete my deck walking hour and he would still be there. Later in the day I would do my deck checks and wander past him – he was still there. Later on in the evening guess what? He was still reading. Either he read very slowly or he had numerous books to trawl though. I guessed that he must have developed piles over the twenty-four day cruise. At one point I was concerned that there had been an accident with superglue and he was too embarrassed to ask for help. Just to make sure, I would shake up my routines out of curiosity and the majority of the time he was on deck. He did leave his position for meals and he was gone by 9.00pm because he probably had to sleep. What made the situation intriguing was that he was cruising with his wife and she was nowhere to be seen until the day they departed the ship. He was in his usual place while disembarkation ensued and his wife came and found him. ‘Darling, we are going to have to go home.’ He looked like a child who had sat on a bee. He loved his reading and his ‘special’ space. Now he had to leave. Did he finish the book? Who knows?
THE LIBRARY LURKERS
The other reading extreme is those who love libraries. Some people just love a library, they like the quiet and a place to retreat and read. On the ship there is usually a special library area for those who like to sniff books, browse shelves and peruse travel guides. It is a place of concentrated knitwear, where silence is appreciated and the leather chairs facing the window enable a sea view whilst reading a long anticipated epic adventure. This type of ‘Cruise Ship Creature’ is easy to spot because all you need to do is walk past the library and the library lurking breed will have congregated. What does concern me is that there are ‘Library Lurkers’ who choose to hang out in the library when the ship is in port, even if it is a nice day. I have overheard conversations justifying why they do it: ‘I have been on so many cruises and visited so many ports that I am just happy staying on the ship so I can read a good book.’ Obviously they could take the book ashore and read on land but that is how you define the purest ‘Library Lurkers’ because being in the Library with a book beats the adventure of a port.
‘Oh God… Oh my Goooood… I just found the spa and it’s SPAAAAAAGASMIC!!!!’ Loud breathing followed by a flush of red appearing on the ‘Spagasmic’s’ neck is an indicator or this Spa-loving-shippy creature. This creature loves to spa. They are fresh-faced, everything is waxed and they are so well maintained. They love treatments, they love hydro pools and when it comes to spa demonstrations they are there in the front row. They think nothing of spending a couple of hundred pounds on a facial and they are a delight for the Spa Manager. Actually talking of delights, I think I will provide a few fun stories about the spa marketing campaigns on some of the ships I worked on. To be honest I was horrified that these little mistakes had not been picked up before I fell about the office laughing. In fact, I am astounded that the ‘Complainers’ did not cause a spa riot.
To give a little insight: every day on the ship there is an equivalent to a newspaper which provides all the activities for the day. On the cover there are adverts for the Casino, the Spa and the Shops etc. Each concession fights for pride of place. It is no surprise that the spa want as much custom as possible and will pull out all the discount tricks to get you up there. There are hot stone massages, reflexology and all kinds of hair seminar. Each of these is supposed to have a catchy phrase to draw you in… As an example – LOSE EIGHT INCHES (off what?) Come to this spa talk and watch eight inches disappear. I can tell you now that not many men would attend that talk because most would end up in an inch-loss deficit.
FACIALS CAN BE FUN… (You can’t really smile or talk) Come and learn about the fun found in facials. This insightful talk will detail how to combat wrinkles, fine lines and facial fat. (Were they going to teach people unarmed facial combat?)
Then came a shocker ‘OUR SOLE DELIGHT’. Say that little beauty slowly and you might get away with it. Now say it aloud with a bit of speed and then see how it sounds… Oh I fell about laughing when I noticed that. Of course I phoned the spa and asked whether the ‘Our Sole Delight’ was an anus massage or maybe it was a Vajazzle for anal orifices. Well I soon learned it was simply a foot massage. When I made the spa receptionist say ‘Our Sole Delight’ down the phone she did not get it. In the end I had to explain that an English person may well be a little concerned by someone delighting in their arsehole. It was beyond them. After that first delightful marketing insight I thought I should keep my eyes trained on the spa marketing wording. A few weeks later this little beauty rose to the surface:
FUN AND FASCINATING FACIALS. Enjoy this relaxing facial which tones, detoxifies, moisturises and builds to the most wonderful decapitation. Your face will look fresh, revived and be the talk of the ship.
Your face will definitely be the talk of the ship if it is not attached to your body. Out of courtesy I thought I would chat with the Spa Manager.
‘So this Fun and Fascinating Facial…. You can’t get much repeat custom…’
‘We aren’t getting any custom.’
‘I am not surprised.’
‘Well why would you go for a facial that builds up to having your head cut off?’
The Spa Manager was quiet as she tried to comprehend.
‘Read the advert that you sent me.’
She read it and remained silent. ‘I don’t get it.’
‘Well the treatment ends in a decapitation. I am sure that is not what you wanted to say.’
‘Ohhhhhh shit! It is meant to say exfoliation.’
There are obviously a few of these beauties but I will end with this little number:
WE GIVE HEAD AND LOVE FEET. PLUS ENJOY A LITTLE SURPRISE.
Come experience a wonderful Indian head massage, followed by a foot massage. Free eye with every treatment.
Now that is a surprise… Well there are few things that are a little questionable… I guess you figured it out. How on earth do you honour a free eye with every treatment? What a surprise! ‘Madam don’t forget your free eye!’
So again I called the Spa Manager, who by this point rolled her eyes (possibly the free give away eyes) every time she heard I was on the phone.
‘Hello… so how do I get my free eye?’
‘What do you mean?’
‘Well there is a free eye with every treatment. Is it a human eye? Or if it is an animal eye then I think you might offend vegetarians and vegans. I would probably find out whether people are vegetarian or vegan before they have the treatment and maybe give them a sprout instead of the eye. I don’t think they would like eyes…’
There was a confused silence from the Spa Manager, who was from a remote part of Europe.
‘I think you should read your advert,’ I suggested.
She read it and I sensed she shrugged, she could not see the issue.
‘I don’t understand.’
‘Okay here is what the advert says – you give head – that suggests the spa provides oral sex as a treatment.’
‘You don’t do you?’
‘No of course not… It is meant to say head massages.’
‘Ah you forgot a key word then.’
‘I don’t understand the free eye for the vegetarians.’ She read the advert again and whispered ‘No…’ You could sense her shame. ‘Oh I am sorry, it was meant to say eye treatment.’
‘I thought so.’
‘Did this advert go out like this?’
‘Nope that is why I am calling. You may have had good business but I didn’t think it was fair on the spa staff since the average age on this cruise is seventy-two. If WE GIVE HEAD AND LOVE FEET. PLUS ENJOY A LITTLE SURPRISE, had been advertised you would be expected to honour it.’
She breathed a sigh of relief. ‘Thank you.’
All in all the spa provides many a treatment, they might not know what they are offering but that is not the point. It is a wonderful place to visit and you too could become SPAGASMIC with the right treatment.
PLEASE SHARE THIS WITH ALL OF YOUR FRIENDS – ESPECIALLY THOSE WHO CRUISE!