Sailing the South Pacific
28.06.2015 - 05.07.2015
Euphoria is in the air. The faint smell of Red Door and sunscreen lingers. “Nan is that you?”
It was a sunny Queensland day. I am standing on the ship’s deck, music is playing, people are excitedly milling about and waving goodbye to Brisbane as we slowly cruise down the river towards the open sea.
The ship lets off a few toots as we pass under the bridge, people are dead set loving it, I mean a bridge, and we are under it!
I take another sip of my drink as I survey my surroundings, question my choices and watch on as people wave at the bridge.
Suddenly the music gets louder and a group of people congregate right in front of me and start doing a choreographed dance routine much to everyone’s delight.
Oh for the love of god.
I take another sip and let a few expletives fly.
People are cheering, clapping, waving, people are dancing with smiles that would make the Cheshire cat feel inadequate. Are they even blinking?
I gave my friends a panicked look, noted the emergency exits and wondered how easy it is to deploy a life raft. Or do I just grab a piece of driftwood a la Rose and dive in?
Now that I’ve shifted out of my twenties I thought I needed a holiday that provided elevators, buffets and towel animals on my bed, preferably wearing my own sunglasses. So there I was, aboard a cruise ship bound for the South Pacific though I was suddenly feeling a strong pull towards a hostel, bed bugs, food poisoning and wearing the same socks multiple times. A cruise is a different travel experience to anything I’ve done in the past but I do like to collect unique travel stories and it did offer two valuable ingredients I require of any holiday, food (hello buffet) and people watching of epic proportions.
You see, a cruise is the chosen holiday of a lot of people incapable of other means of travel. People too fat, people on mobility walkers incapable I would of thought to leave the house, cashed up bogans, old people, families, your stock standard weirdos and anyone who can really get behind a hotel on the sea, buffets and non-stop entertainment. To epitomise the clientele, there was a middle-aged man with an epic, brown, wavy mullet who after an island stop, came back aboard with it braided into cornrows that Snoop Dogg would have admired.
Cruising is perfect for the over 65. You can eat, nap and sit in busy bars and order nothing. Even the risk of DVT is small. There’s something in the eyes of the old people on board that says ‘this is going to be the vacation of my dreams, don’t you dare ruin it’. They cut loose. They will waltz in the middle of the dance floor to the Black Eyed Peas in an epic display of “what of it?”
They will fill 5 dinner plates for lunch.
“What of it?”
They will tear up a themed night, hitting the buffet in their white sequinned ties, fun white bowler hats and clip in white hair extensions.
“What of it? I went through the depression bitches, now’s my time to shine”.
“Bring me all the jelly squares you have!!!”
They are genuinely impressed by everything a cruise has to offer. Not like us Gen Y dirt bags who hate on everything. Is that your dance routine? Well they butchered that song! What is wrong with his face? Do you put comedian down on your tax form? Stairs! Ahh the view is too bright and scenic! Where’s the hot one? Why do they keep playing the Black Eyed Peas?
There is so much on board entertainment it’s overwhelming. We ignored the frequent cruisers Facebook advice to BYO highlighter to plan your day. There’s shows, games, activities and gambling.
Bingo is like catnip for pensioners. It jackpotted and the prize was $7000 by the last day. The whole ship went to try their luck much like a gold rush boom. Old people with a pick and a pan attached to their walkers as they hiked to the theatre from the buffet. I sat at the back of the room with a packet of chips to watch the spectacular, hoping to see a knifing. I also made up a lot of my own bingo calls, in case my friend got his way and we had to stay aboard and join the entertainment crew. I fancy being the sardonic, bingo caller.
Number 72- duck about to be hit with a crowbar.
Number 80 – two zeros, one wearing a belt.
Obviously being dirt bag Gen Y’s we didn’t speak to many people at all, but we knew everyone by their nicknames. First it was a game of identifying the people who posted on the cruise Facebook wall. 10 points if you spot one. There were groups of young boys, groups of women getting wild as well as random individuals that continually crossed our path all of whom had a nickname. We amused ourselves no end with their backstories and scandalous gossip about their supposed trials and tribulations aboard the ship. We decided if anyone else was as ridiculous as us, they probably called us the sister wives. At least that is what we would have called any other group of one male and three females. Or maybe others actually find out people’s real names?
Like all who like to over indulge I was worried I would gain 10kgs, fall overboard reaching for a taco and just be ignored by the Captain who would just assume I was a curious dugong.
Thankfully the buffet closed, of which we congratulated ourselves daily for not eating between our three course meals, or if we JUST had a sandwich and because we ALWAYS shared our chips.
My two most questionable efforts were leaving a bar for a toilet break and going to get a sneaky taco from the buffet, stopping by the lolly bar for a quick pick ’n’ mix then returning to the bar.
There was a buffet and a restaurant included on the cruise. On our last night we ate dinner at the buffet but had some time to fill and a post-dinner hankering for chicken wings to satiate. So we went to the restaurant and they seated us with three lovely ladies who went to high school together and were on their annual get together. Hello future.
We chatted and as the three of us ordered an entrée, main and desert between us it seemed necessary to explain, given the “we’re small eaters” thing clearly wouldn’t fly, that we were actually partaking in a favourite pastime of ours, the second dinner. We already ate.
Our general excuse for questionable behaviours in over indulgence was treat yo’self. Second dinner? Treat yo’self. Martinis at 2pm? Treat yo’self. Another drink? Treat yo’self. Dessert? Treat yo’self. Two tacos and a burrito? Treat. Yo. Self!
We went to game shows and trivia competitions and there was a hell of a lot of events that we missed, much to my friend’s chagrin, because we were napping. Like the daily pilates class we were going to, or the ship gym’s opening hours of 9am-8pm. Good thing we packed the runners. Sometimes we were just propped up in the porthole looking for whales and asking each other random questions about the ocean that we will never know the answer to.
“There’s a lego building contest at 2? Family charades? Crafts at sea is quilling! There is a talk on easing foot pain? “
“Hmm, we are going to take a nap, then the taco shop opens at 6... so….”
Each night we filled our time by watching shows, musical theatre, comedy even a magician. Always questioning where our standards went. Or being thankful rather that we have them. We watched karaoke and sat through multiple Michael Buble renditions and repeat offenders that we judged with the forked tongue of Simon Cowell.
Clearly we could never actually participate.
I mean how could we even compete when a lady pelvic thrusted too hard and fell backwards during her rendition of ‘The Time Warp’? In a clear holiday highlight, a not so agile performer took to the stage and as she sang, “it was a peeellllvic thrrruuuusttttt” over she toppled. The music kept playing for a few seconds before people realised she wasn’t getting up. The medics came running, people weirdly continued to sing along and clap to the backing music. The lights were dimmed and several minutes later she was wheel chaired off the stage with her leg propped up, waving to her adoring crowd.
A women pelvic thrusted herself into an injury.
With an overzealous pelvic thrust.
She had it strapped up for the rest of the trip.
A karaoke injury.
From a pelvic thrust.
This whole experience was entirely too much for sarcastic, non-participating gen Y’s to handle.
Hashtag sail away.