All the horrific things I witnessed on my cruise

There are a lot of unique things that happen when you and 4000 other people are sharing a floating hotel for 7 days. You’re on a cruise, so you have relatively limited mobility. There are only a certain number of things to do and places to go. Picture endless amounts of food, too many children, and piña coladas to drown out the children. Anyway, here’s some crazy shit that happened on the cruise. 

My eating habits

Breakfast, lunch, and dinner all started to blur together and immediately spiraled out of control. Food is part of the cruise package, so aside from the expensive shit reserved for the glorified Ruby Tuesday’s on board, everything was ‘all you can eat.’ And nothing tastes better than food that appears to be free. There was a big buffet that served various cuisine at almost all times of the day, a sandwich bar, a 24-hour pizza place, an Indian food shop, and room service you could order at any time if you couldn’t get your lazy ass to one of the feeding troughs. Out of all the glorious and horrifyingly high caloric options, the absolute best thing that they served on the cruise, was the lava cake with vanilla ice cream on the side. Crack in a cup! Unfortunately, I’m not used to eating giant meals every hour, so this all had consequences for me. By the third day, I was throwing up what was initially a delicious, greasy grilled cheese and bacon sandwich. But I would do it all over again. It was worth it.

Lenny eating for 4

 This 8-year-old boy and the ice cream machine

Along with all the buffets and restaurants, there were ice cream machines every 10-feet that pumped out swirls of vanilla and chocolate ice cream, or cocaine-for-children as they say. The ice cream itself tasted like ice that was trying to whisper its flavor to you, but it’s free and in front of you. On the second day of the cruise, I watched an 8-year-old boy stick his meaty hands under one of the machines, holding out a cone ready to be filled. By the time he realized he overshot how much vanilla swirl he could fit into his cone, it was too late. In a last-ditch effort, he stuck out both of his chunky little arms like he was catching a football. He caught the ice cream in his hands, and proceeded to smear it onto the tray underneath the machine and walked on to try his luck at another.

My drinking habits

There was one drink package available, but as with everything on a cruise, they’re outrageously overpriced. My frugal boyfriend decided we could sneak some alcohol on in tiny plastic flasks. He hid them in his checked suitcase in various compartments and underneath articles of clothing, but then he did something strange without my knowledge. He attached a zip-tie on his suitcase to ensure it stayed closed. To this day, he argues that this is a perfectly normal thing to do, but if I were a cruise security person, this would clearly raise some red flags if not all of the red flags. Just as Icarus flew too close to the sun, Lenny fucked up our master plan. All of our alcohol except for two bottles of red wine had been confiscated when the bag got to our room. We agonized over the idea of being sober on a cruise for a week. After going through all of our limited options, he ended up getting the drink package for us, which amounted to 15 drinks per day PER PERSON. Lenny took this as a challenge and generally started drinking early in the day, and encouraged me to do the same. I don’t want to think about the amount of alcohol I ended up consuming, so this paragraph is going to have to stop here.

All the money I lost

There was a casino on the boat. And I DON’T WANT TO TALK ABOUT IT.

The hairy chest contest

On cruises, they have all sorts of competitions and shows for maximum entertainment. I got really into the hairy chest contest in particular because it involved regular, random, hairy guys that were either hand selected by the host or brave volunteers that were ready to strut their fluff. There were three female judges seated on the main deck, and about 7 bare-chested men. The host had the men perform an array of tasks one by one for the judges. First, they had to take their shirts off in a sexy way, then they had to twerk for the judges and finally do their best tiger crawl and roar on all fours. Lenny and I watched from the second deck, cheering and waving our arms frantically for our favorite performers. After each little show, the host took them aside individually and analyzed their chest hair, noting any major bald spots, discolorations, or extreme wooly mammoth situations. Then, he would name them accordingly. One man was named Mr. Fluffy for obvious reasons. Another, he called Tree of Life because his chest hair took on the shape of a hair tree. It was the only time in my life that I was both horrified and wished I had hair on my chest.

Swimming with Sharks in Belize

It’s never really been a goal of mine to swim with sharks. I’ve thought about the concept briefly and kind of decided ‘maybe not a great idea’. I mostly just don’t want to die that way or lose a limb…normal people concerns. But, when I went to Belize, one of their main activities/attractions is something called “Shark Ray Alley,” a designated area in the ocean where boats pull up with bait and humans (two separate things in their minds), feed the sharks, and let the humans get into the water with sharks and stingrays. When you’re on vacation, the ‘yes effect’ takes control. You just start agreeing with whatever your group wants to do, so I put my big girl swimsuit on and agreed to swim with these a-holes.

These two super awesome dudes took us out on their boat, gave us gear and were our instructors for the couple of hours we were out at sea. We drove about 20 minutes out, and as soon as the boat pulled up to this one specific spot, 30 nurse sharks showed up quicker than I show up to wine tastings. Apparently, they know that boat = breakfast. One of the instructors started tossing little bits of fish off the left side of the boat and the sharks were swimming over one another to inhale the food. The other instructor told us to get into the water on the right side of the boat and to stay about 5-8 feet away from the sharks. No, we weren’t in cages. The only gear we had on were snorkel masks and flippers.

I plopped into the water ready to die. “I’ve done a lot of things,” I thought. “I regret not buying that bouncy house though. And I regret not doing more drugs. And I regret not doing both of those things at the same time.” I swam in the water for a bit and dipped my whole face in so I could see what I was working with. I saw all the sharks congregating on the left side of the boat, trying to get a good snack in before their entree (us). There were four of us adults and about 20-80 nurse sharks just 10 feet away. They reminded me of what my dogs do whenever I’m eating…just kind of stay in one spot and stare at me until I give in (immediately) and throw them some chicken.

Before all of this, my boyfriend promised to stay next to me and hold my hand the whole time. He’s pretty muscular and was in the military for like 6 years so I had every intention of not leaving his side during this experience. In my mind, I had nothing to worry about. When the sharks attacked, he’d sacrifice himself to save me and I’d write a little paragraph about him at the end of my memoir, and adopt his dog and take his house. This is not what happened. Instead, he kept getting water in his mask and was too busy drowning and inhaling all of the ocean water to be my protector. I was on my own and made a mental note of how useless he is underwater.

I swam back to the boat in a super elegant way (similar to a mermaid). But, I’m not very bright, so I tried to climb the ladder with giant flippers and my snorkel mask still stuck to my face. Not only could I not see well, but didn’t think to take these things off my feet. And there’s nothing really to hold onto except for the boat which was all lubed up by the water we’d been dripping onto it. So, I rolled back onto the boat (picture a whale rolling around on the sand). “Do they not attack people?” I asked one of our boat-men. “Nah, not unless you mess with them.” He said. “Do you want to feed them?” I need everyone and everything to like me at all times, so of course, I wanted to feed them. They were cute now that I was hovering above them.

After I got home, I Wikipedia’d ‘nurse sharks’ and according to the interwebs, they’re ‘ranked fourth in documented shark bites on humans.’ It says this might be because divers aren’t as cautious around these guys since they don’t have a reputation for attacking people. So basically, the take-home lesson is that I swam with the deadliest sharks in the ocean and lived to blog about it.