Friday, December 16, 2011

Boat Drinks

"Twenty degrees and the hockey game's on
Nobody cares, they're way too far gone, screaming
Boat drinks, something to keep 'em all warm."*

We set a plan in motion - many months ago - to see if cruising is for us. Lots of our friends recommended it highly, others either indifferent or had strong negative feelings. Alaska beckons, and a glide up the Inside Passage seems only too alluring from the deck of a ship. But.... Who knew if it was for us.

Our just-completed five night voyage was, among other things, a wonderful learning experience. Over the next several entries I'll share some of our discoveries. To wit:

Many of the boat drinks contain alcohol.
Pre-cruise horror stories abounded, huge bar bills tucked under the cabin door just before debarkation. Hundreds, even thousands spent on booze. Hazy recollections, pounding heads, the only antidote watery coffee served en route to the restroom to puke. A friend cautioned us - "That card they keep swiping is actually a credit card. Don't fall for it."

Of course we did. We'd only been aboard an hour or so, not even long enough to find out what happens if the boat sinks (okay, I think Pat bids me a tearful goodbye from the lifeboat to the sounds of "My Heart Will Go On") and we found a bar. The Schooner's oak and leather nautical theme begged for us to libate, so we did. Each newsletter ("Cruise Compass") announced a discounted drink of the day - on Day 1 the Mango Mai Tai. It had enough knocked-on-my-ass rum to make a second illogical, especially since we had to report to our evacuation stations for an especially brief presentation on what to do (Put on a life jacket? Really?!) in the event we had to abandon ship. I got us lost on the way - says enough right there about how much rum was floating my mango.

Not all of the drinks were similarly endowed. An afternoon cocktail in the solarium - the Creme Sickle served in a bamboo cup - had an initial splash of bliss, after which it was a very nice strawberry smoothie. The bartender at Bolero may have yelled "Tequila!" at a tall, refreshing lime drink they called a margarita, although the salsa music played live by a group called Rhumba made up for it. The "Sex on the Beach?" More like a Mona Lisa smile while doing dishes.

So we stuck with old reliable in the evening - Kendall Jackson chardonnay from a pre-paid wine package, and enjoyed an after dinner stroll into the fifty mile an hour gale on deck.

The boat's actual name was "Petri Dish with a Steel Drum Band". Not that anyone would let you forget that people and germs are synonymous - there was waterless hand cleaner around every corner, and a crew member to scowl at passengers who passed it by. Honestly, a confined space containing five thousand people has to be an awesome breeding ground for more than just midnight trysts. Taking no chances, we also carried our own hand cleaner. The morning ritual was - hand cleaner upon arriving at the buffet, heap on the fresh fruit, grab some "coffee" and a seat, apply more hand cleaner. Apparently this was a winning tactic, because neither of us contracted the dreaded "power egress virus" while aboard. Whether we caught anything with a longer gestation period - I'm sure you're dying to know.

Next - Welcome Aboard the Oceans Eleven

*"Boat Drinks," written by Jimmy Buffett, 1979


  1. Forgive me, but I had to laugh about the hand cleaner. I can understand that 5,000 people on a small boat form a breeding ground, though, and admire you for evading any of those viruses. I don't care for cruises for a number of reasons, one which is we hear every year of a boat load of puking people poisoned by salmonella or something like that. But you had fun! Super.

  2. We weren't sure if the hand washing did any good - the horror stories about everything from colds to norovirus kept us washing our hands every chance we had. The vacation was worth the hassle, though, an interesting change from the all-inclusive resorts we've been to.