My most memorable cruise director was a woman named Suzy, who was on an Alaskan trip Mrs. Grumpy and I went on a few years back. What made her so memorable was that she actually got fired (or died, or was abducted by aliens) in the middle of the cruise. One evening she did the night show, and the next morning announcements were done by "your cruise director, Brent". And Suzy was never mentioned or seen again. At breakfast I looked for her on the sides of milk cartons, to no avail.
The cruise director on the S.S. Humungous is a guy named Goose. I swear. This is not a name I generally associate with cruise directors. When I hear of a guy named Goose my first thought is of Goose Gossage, the pitcher, and my second is Tom Cruise's navigator in Top Gun.
Goose has his own closed circuit TV show every morning, which is imaginatively called "Good Morning with Goose". It consists of Goose, looking remarkably happy and perky, like he's just downed a boatload of coffee and Prozac, answering phone questions from passengers in varying states of drunkenness and/or sleep/caffeine deprivation.
The ability to always look and act happy is a remarkable trait of cruise directors. You can just see them enthusiastically saying “Sorry the ship is sinking, folks, but we have some FABULOUS abandoning activities planned, and a great trivia party in lifeboat 7”. I assume they're specifically bred for this purpose, and in the future Goose will be sent to work stud at a cruise director farm.
Back to the TV show: during our cruise Goose had to deal with all kinds of calls, some reasonable, some pointless, and some downright stupid. I can only assume this happens every cruise. I found myself watching his show, in the same way that it's hard to look away from a car wreck. Goose wasn't doing anything wrong, it was more his callers. So far on this trip he’s received the following questions in response to his ever-cheery "Good morning! This is Goose! What's your question?"
"Hey, why is it windy today?"
"What number do I call to reach your show?"
"I'm worried about our new stop in Ensenada. I thought I read somewhere that they have Mexicans there?"
"My wife and I were thinking about going to Alaska next year. Do they accept American dollars?"
"Goose, I'm really depressed about Michael Jackson today".
“What color is the ocean this morning?”
(slurred voice) "Do you know a hangover cure?"
"Which Van Halen lead singer did you prefer? David Lee Roth or Sammy Hagar?"
"Do I need a passport to visit Hawaii?"
“Was it a hurricane or a tornado we avoided yesterday?”
He also received several calls in heavily accented english telling him what a great job he was doing. I suspected they were other employees.
Sometimes there are calls Goose can't answer. When this happens he whips out a cell phone and calls someone else, then holds the phone up to the microphone. One morning he had to call the ship's "shopping specialist" (I still have no idea how someone could possibly get such a meaningless job). She answered on the 5th ring, and in spite of her denials had obviously just been woken up. Her speech was a tad slurred and she sounded disoriented. Obviously, our hurricane-induced schedule change had caught her by surprise, and she was frantically trying to remember which port we were going into that day.
A passenger, that I hadn't previously encountered was included on this ship. It is Mrs. Dour. This is a thoroughly unpleasant middle-aged woman who has a permanent look of contempt etched on her face. Whenever and wherever we sat down for a meal, or drink, or show, she'd immediately come up 5 seconds later, carrying a tray of food or drinks, and give us a look that told us she'd been waiting for that very same table (sometimes in an otherwise empty room) for the last 6 hours, and we'd just beaten her too it. She’d glare hatefully at us for 15 seconds, then wander off in a huff.
The other passenger who was new to this cruise was Exercise Girl. She was in her 30’s, and every time I saw her she was in gym clothes, with a light covering of sweat, and had an iPod with one ear bud in and the other hanging loose. We saw her 2-3 times each day, always looking like this. One night the twins woke me up demanding to be taken for ice cream at 3:00 a.m., so I took them. And in the hallway, there she was, heading back to her room (maybe she really works in the ship’s red light district, and had just finished a shift).
Marie, Craig, and I went golfing after breakfast. The only other people up on the mini-golf course were an older couple, on board for their 50th anniversary, and fighting like hell. Every single putt-putt hole brought out more snide comments, nasty remarks about long-dead in-laws, and other stuff. It was awesome. 50 years of pent-up hostility exposed by a 9-hole miniature golf course.
Then Marie hit her ball onto the "Serenity Deck" 1 floor down, whacking some poor lady on the back who was trying to relax with a book
Around noon I played basketball. I haven't played in a pick-up game since medical school. In college my intramural team set a record that likely still stands. In a 5 game season we lost our first game 83-10, our second game 75-15, didn’t play the 4th or 5th games because not enough people showed up, and forfeited the last game because we'd missed the previous 2. In other words, we sucked.
Every player dreams of taking the shot that ends the game. And today, it was my turn. I caught a pass at the 3-point line, and was open. I put up an amazing shot. It completely missed the basket. And everything else. The ball is still likely floating around in the Pacific. With the other players glaring at me, I left the court in disgrace. And later received notice that I've been charged $20 for a replacement basketball.
The pools on this trip, although nice, have been a big disappointment. On my past cruises they were warmed to a decent temperature, but here, on Cruiseship Lines biggest ship, they're downright icy. I complained about this to Goose and he cheerfully informed me that they were heating them, and they'd be comfortable sometime before the ship goes to the scrapyard.
Reassured by this I stupidly allowed my kids to talk me into trying the waterslide this afternoon. It didn't seem so cold until I landed in the frigid pool at the bottom. It was like ice. I have no idea what I yelled out, but suspect it had parents frantically covering their kids' ears. I got out, grabbed a towel, and made my way back to my chair. I was choking, and realized that the lump in my throat was something that I used to pee with.
They clean and refill the pools and hot tubs each night. I personally consider this a very good thing, because in the early morning the hot tubs are clear, and by late afternoon are cloudy and yellow.
After dinner Mrs. Grumpy and I wandered off to watch the sunset and have a round of Diet Cokes. While lying out on the stern deck a young couple sat down near us. They were on their honeymoon, and he was already in the doghouse (get used to it, dude). She was chewing him out big time, using such fighting words words as "cheating", "trust", "honesty" and boy, was she pissed.
Since this was far more interesting than the sunset, I paid attention. I mean, if you’re going to have your inaugural fight in public, who am I to ignore such quality entertainment?
Here's the story: She went down to the spa for a few hours, but after a while went back to their room to get a bathing suit. She walked in and caught him “CHEATING” on her (her words, not mine).
I couldn’t stand the tension! Who was he with? Natalia, the hot cocktail waitress? Lucy, the photographer? Amy, the drunken college student? None of the above! She caught him cheating on her with (drumroll, please) HIS PLAYSTATION-3, which he'd secretly brought along on the honeymoon! Yes, this was what landed this poor sucker in the doghouse.
It’s the endless variety of entertainment of this sort that I love about cruising. If anyone from Cruiseship Lines, Inc. recognize their ship in my writing, and wish to give me a free cruise or money for my endorsement, I’m more than willing to accept it, and you can email me. I’m also more than happy to do the “Stroke-At Sea” themed neurology cruise I suggested in this post.
And that's (in honor and memory of Walter Cronkite) the way it is.