From The Publisher

October 15, 2018 Edition
BY: CARRIE DUNCAN

Did you see that monster cruise ship out in our bay a couple days ago? They just keep building them bigger, it seems.

I have a rather checkered history with cruise ships. I should just learn from my history and stay off the damn things.

The first time, (not to worry, there were only two, this will be quick,) I begged to go. I had never been on a cruise ship, so how was I to know I was not well suited to sitting around and doing almost nothing for five days? Five very long days. We went from Los Angeles to Mazatlán, Puerto Vallarta, Cabo, and back to Los Angeles. First bad decision was going over Thanksgiving weekend, when school was out. I don’t do kids well under the best of circumstances, and these were not optomin conditions cooped up with a bunch of rug rats on a boat. Kids were running everywhere, up and down the halls, under foot, yelling and screaming. I needed to be on an adults only boat.

And even then, I wouldn’t have had a good time. How long can you sit and do nothing? Well, I’ll tell you how long I can sit and do nothing: Maybe 20 minutes, and then only if I have a bad case of the flu and can’t get out of bed. I can’t imagine why anyone would want to sit and look at a horizon of blue on blue. I can’t even sit at the beach, I need to be swimming or kayaking or at the very least walking. Maybe I have ants in my pants, maybe I’m just normal and the rest of the people on the boat were fuddy duddies. Or runners or screamers. I move a lot but I don’t scream.

I got so bored I even attended napkin folding class. That’s a near death experience for anyone who’s not Martha Stewart.

But finally they had an activity for me: Golf lessons. I’m a golfer but could always stand to take another lesson. I showed up, but they didn’t have any left handed clubs and the clubs they did have were all taken by the damn kids. I did stand there and watch, because it was something to do. Even I realized how forlorn I looked.

By the time we got to Cabo, I absolutely would have jumped ship and flown home but didn’t feel right about leaving my friend who had warned me I would hate it. He didn’t want to spend five days on a boat with me when I was bound to be bored and whiny. I don’t think I was whiny, but yeah, he assured me I was pretty whiny. Boredom brings on the whinees.

So why didn’t I learn my lesson? Because I had a chance to cruise the Baltic Sea! How cool is that? I would be cruising all the way to Russia where I would be visiting a Russian journalist in his Russian apartment! I got the Russia part all right, and it was great, but I earned it. Turns out blue on blue horizon on the Baltic Sea is pretty much the same as blue on blue horizon on the Pacific Ocean.

Except this ship had almost 4,000 passengers, 600 Americans, and the rest about evenly divided between Muslims and Asians. By American cultural norms Asians are pushy, as we’ve all experienced. Turns out Muslims aren’t much different, and they get right up in your personal space when they talk, not that I needed to talk to them about a damn thing. This cruise was a week of pushing and shoving on and off the elevators and in the chow lines. Sure, we could have gone to a posh restaurant onboard, but I like buffets. All the waffles you can eat for breakfast, all the cheese sandwiches for lunch, and dinner was wall to wall fried chicken and assorted delicacies. But each meal was a long line of pushy in your face people.

The corker was getting on and off the ship at the stops. Imagine 4,000 people in two lines. These big ships just don’t have doors big enough to move people fast enough. Security was tight, because of what’s called a soft target. A soft target is an American in possible harm’s way when we’re not in our own country. On our cruise ship dock here in Cabo, where the tenders come in, security is tight because we have so many soft target Americans. I remember before 9/11 when I could walk down that pier and jump in the tender and putt-putt out to the big ship. Now, there is very tight security, and you better be ready to show your ship ID or you will be flying home, not cruising home.

Because of those 600 Americans out of the total 4,000 people on the Baltic Sea cruise, security was very tight, with ship ID’s that were electronically scanned as our faces were scanned. Hats off, sunglasses off. They might not have given a rat’s ass about the Americans, but those cruise ship people were pretty hinky about getting their boat blown up.

So we’re standing in the line to get back on, and this Muslim woman all decked out in full Muslim regalia, turns to me and says, “This long line is your fault  you know.”  (How does everyone all over the world, even in the Scandinavian countries, always peg me for a Gringo? I don’t get it. I try very hard to blend in. OK, so I will never be mistaken for an Asian or a Muslim, but I could have been European for all she knew.)

So, this Muslim woman is blaming Americans for tight security against Muslims? How is that for profiling?

The best that can be said for what happened next is that after we were separated by security, I got to go right to the head of the line and was on the ship and ready for the buffet line in record time.

And that’s the last cruise ship I’m ever going to go on.

However, that boat out in our Cabo harbor last week did look nice and they have a lot of stuff to do, like go cart racing and a nine hole golf course. Probably small course, though, with windmills and cheesy green carpeting in place of grass, and no left handed clubs. And the go carts probably have a speed governor on them just so we don’t hurtle off the side of the ship. Cheesy green carpeting and speed governors. I’ll give it a pass.