Rushville Republican

May 23, 2013

Stuart: Scuttling the stories of spring break cruising

Don Stuart
Rushville Republican

RUSHVILLE — I’ve been writing about my spring break cruise vacation for so long that I can’t remember writing about anything else. It makes me think of the advice that newbie writers struggling for ideas have gotten since the inventions of cave painting: write about what you know. Well, I know I like being on vacation!

Alas, our cruise did finally come to end, which led me to consider that I might ought to start writing columns previewing our summer vacation plans. But heck, there are still a few nuggets of our cruise history (cru-istory, if you will) that I know I must share to put a coda on our vacation and make your lives complete. After this one, I promise, the cruise will sink into the sunset. That is, I’ll capsize any more column ideas about it. Okay, I’m going to drop anchor on these nautical bon mots; I’m having Leonardo DiCaprio flashbacks.

My wife felt a little silly on day one of the cruise when she signed up for what she thought was an unbeatable deal: $43 for unlimited “adult beverages” while on board. Calculating our limit of about one drink per day (we’re short hitters), and an average of $8 per adult beverage, times seven days on board, she figured we’d make out pretty well. So she bought in, and then got a receipt to sign totaling way over $600! Because (duhh!) it was $43 PER DAY. For us to get our money’s worth, we’d have to consume a staggering amount of adult beverages. Which, as the cruise unfolded, a LOT of staggering passengers demonstrated they were gamely trying to do.

As is commonly known, cruises are all about food, food, food, and eating, eating, eating it. Over and above any other foodstuff, the one staple of nutriment that could be had any time of day or night was pizza. My kids absolutely love pizza, and interestingly, they all three agreed that the pizza on the Carnival Liberty was “not so great.” We heard this from them every single day aboard the ship. Each and every time they shared this opinion, they were scarfing down a piece of pizza.

Cruise ships devote a large amount of space to on-board casinos. The space has to be large because lots of people like, umm, “gaming.” Among those people are my father- and mother-in-law. I’ve never really understood this, because my father-in-law’s the type who pinches pennies so hard that Lincoln weeps, and it’s not as though he makes any money when he’s gaming. However, he almost always plays video poker, as does my mother-in-law. They pick machines that are not near one another. My father-in-law says this is for luck. But I think maybe it’s because it gives him an exquisite excuse to NOT have to talk to my mother-in-law.

It was kind of amusing when we departed our last port of call, San Juan, Puerto Rico, and those who like to game while at sea couldn’t. At least not until the boat reached some magic distance from the island, then the gaming commenced again in earnest. My wife and I were strolling the vicinity of the casino when the doors opened. Big mistake. We got knocked around by a couple of super-portly gamers (another reason the casinos are so large) rushing to get their lucky video poker machines and not have to talk to each other as they’d been stuck doing since we left the port.

Note: The super-portly folks were NOT my in-laws. They keep themselves reasonably fit with exercise, especially Tai Chi, which they practiced diligently while on-board. Not by signing up for a class, which might’ve (heaven forbid) cost a few extra bucks (remember, pennies pinched by my father-in-law bear the marks forever). No, they found unused spaces on the boat to do their Tai Chi routines. And when they did, they’d do it for long stretches of time. During which practitioners are to remain utterly silent. Thus, my father-in-law reaps that same key benefit mentioned earlier when discussing video poker.

It’s not uncommon apparently for people to discover new interests and passions on a cruise that they decide to continue pursuing even after they return to dry land, For example, my wife keeps saying she’d really, REALLY like to learn more about video poker and Tai Chi.