I should have known by the brochure. No, I should have known by the price. No, I really should have known by the fortune cookie that I read the night before, the one that said, “Always trust your fortune.” Which to me felt a little too specific at the time. No scratch all of that. I should have known because it was me and it was my vacation. But I decided to ignore all the obvious signs that pointed towards me having the worst week of my life. I was going on a cruise and I was going to have fun. Or at the very least, I was going to lie, and lie really, really well.

When entering the ship, I could tell that the crew was extremely competent and ready to help me. Sure they were sitting around playing cards and drinking, but once their game was over and they had three more rounds of drinks, they were ready to assist me to my cabin. I thought it was funny the way that they told me to carry my own bags and I attributed it to physical limitations they must have had, but were not apparent to the naked eye. Although, their ability to play Leapfrog down the hall amazed even me. Well, after being shown to my cabin, no, I was first shown to somebody else’s cabin, then my cabin, no, I was shown to the boiler room, another wrong cabin, then their cabins, then my cabin, I was ready to settle in and start my vacation.

I decided that I needed to take a nap. It had been a long drive to the ship, plus, my back was tired from carrying my bags around for two hours. Just when my head hit my pillow, the sirens started. Imagine a really loud noise. Then imagine a really annoying message accompanying it. If you cannot, then just try to imagine your mother-in-law standing over your bed with a bullhorn telling you all the ways that you will never measure up to her. Yes, it was that grating, loud, and damaging. It was the lifeboat drill. I stumbled my way through my cabin. I was now deaf. But I had other more pressing problems to contemplate. Like, why was my lifejacket the size of Richard Simmons' workout shorts. You know the ones. The ones where you know they are too small. The producers know that they are too small. His fans know that they are too small. And Richard knows that they are too small, but he wears them anyway.

I felt like an idiot with my infant lifejacket on, but I had no choice; I had to join the rest of the passengers on deck for what I like to call, “When Guys Named Chad Speak About the Sea” or otherwise known as, “Feeling Like An Idiot In Your Lifejacket, While Someone Who is An Idiot Speaks About Nothing” or simply, the lifeboat drill. This is the time when you are lined up like cattle going to the slaughterhouse. But, sadly, we had to endure this and live to play charades.

I guess there is a certain segment of the population that need the simple things in life explained to them. This is the same group of people who would be lost without the instructions on the back of a bottle of shampoo or the people who wait for the sign to light up in the elevator that says, “Please, exit elevator when doors open” before they step out. But here I was with the Moe, Larry, and Curly of the cruise set. I am an understanding kind of person. I feel empathy for the less fortunate; I cried when I heard that Ben and Jen broke up, and I even understand why people in California would elect Arnold “I Love To Fondle Innocent Women” Schwarzenegger. But I cross the line at these types of questions and requests: “Why is a life preserver necessary?” “If I drown, will it save me?” “Can someone help me put this over my head?” “If the ship sinks, will we still be served dinner?” “Would it be okay if I pulled out my AK-47 machine gun and unloaded a round at random?” The last question was mine. I was just curious.

Next it was time for Chad, our cruise director, to lead us through the safety issues and to basically act like we all had the mental and logistical capacities of tangerines, or of a politician. But after some of the initial questions that he had to navigate through, I was not sure if it was that unnecessary for him to say, “When you enter the life boat, enter it headfirst.” After he straightened out all the confusion of whether we should enter with our front or back, feet or head, he went on to more pressing and what I consider more complicated issues. In random order he addressed: What we should do if we are sleeping and the ship starts to sink. What we should do if we are eating and the ship starts to sink. What we should do if we are eating and sleeping and the ship starts to sink. What we should do if we are walking, dancing, trying to eat, and laugh and the ship starts to sink. The answers were strikingly different. Again, in random order, the answers were: run, cry, don’t finish eating, crawl, cry and crawl, and stay put.

After our lifeboat drill, it was time for a snack. This is when I was able to see up close and personal the psychological cruise phenomenon called, “I Paid All This Money For a Cruise and Damn It, I Will Pretend the Food is Good.” As we shuffled into the dining area, we were met by a wide assortment of delicacies from around the world. There was Cheese Whiz from France. Pizza from Italy, sorry make that Chicago, and wine from Seven-Eleven. But of course true to form, I heard the typical ohhs and ahhs made by people who have never seen spreadable cheese that close up before.

After dinner, it was time to choose what kind of entertainment I wanted to experience that night. There were plenty of choices listed on the activity board, and they all seemed enthralling. There was the standard cruise ship favorite- bingo. And bingo is always fun on a ship because you get to experience the thrill of watching the senior sect turning into warlords fighting over their territory. Gone is the sweet and quiet grandma that you knew at dinner and in her place is a screaming lunatic who would stab you with her sewing needle. It is amazing that combinations of letters and numbers being called out by a guy in spandex can really bring out the animal in Aunt Gertrude.

The last choice caught my eye. The description read, “Come see your crew dance the night away! Amazing stunts, beautiful costumes, and did we say amazing stunts!” Hmmm…amazing stunts, now that sounds intriguing. I made my way to the dance hall and I managed to get a seat in the front row. The lights went dim and the music started, so far so good. Nobody was naked. Yet. A group of twirling and really, really happy dancers took the stage. I could tell that they were happy after a voice announced, “Give a big hand for your happy dance crew!” They glided across the stage. They sauntered across the stage. They fell across the stage. I am pretty sure that it was all part of their act. Happy people fall, right? And still, nobody was naked.

Then there was a puff of smoke and all these flashing lights and then the stage went black. I then could make out the silhouette of two people walking across the dance floor. Then the music started again. But this time it was louder and I could tell that something big was about to happen. Something exciting. And I was right there in the front row to experience it, all of it, all four naked cheeks of it. The lights started flashing again and more smoke appeared, and out of the smoke arose two dancers. Two naked dancers. Well, they had on leotards, but strangely the leotards were missing the chunks of material that should have covered their legs, arms, back, front, and bottoms. It was amazing to see two people wearing clothes, yet not wearing anything. And I was ten inches away from all of this. If that is not lucky, then I don’t know what is. They went into a choreographed routine that included a lot of bends and lifts. Did I mention that I was just ten inches away? The children next to me really seemed to like it and I could tell by their stares and the way they said, “Eww…gross, he is naked mommy!” that they really appreciated the show.

I was now ready for another snack.

After eating, I decided to attend a historical lecture on the history of the ship. I thought to myself, actually I said it out-loud for good luck, “Now, I am sure that there will be no naked asses in this room.” I walked into the lecture hall and to my immense pleasure, everyone had clothes on and not only that, their clothes were covering all their major body parts. I knew my luck was turning. The speaker started to tell us a little bit about the ship, and it was quite fascinating. He went over all the normal things- the size of the ship, how much it weighs, and so on. But then the historical lesson took a turn. What kind of turn you may ask? Oh, I don’t know, how shall I phrase it, oh, yes, he went from talking about the ships weight to telling us that the ship use to be a floating morgue and that every room in the ship housed bodies and those bodies were most likely dead. Every room. Every cabin. Every place that we ate, laid down, sat, talked in, viewed naked people. I was most surprised that they did not mention this in their brochure they had in the travel agency. I am sure that if they made a travel brochure saying, “Come sail on a ship that housed rotting and decaying bodies! Yes, you read correctly! Real dead bodies!” that their business would really pick up.

At the end of my cruising experience, I was able to express my gratitude for the exceptional service, thought provoking entertainment, Chad, my fellow passengers, and the ambiance of such a fine morgue, umm cruise ship, by filling out a questionnaire. There were about ten questions on it and it had enough space for me to articulate my thoughts that had been stockpiling in my mind. Here are the questions that were on my questionnaire:

1) Did you enjoy yourself?

2) Was the ship up to your standard?

3) Was the crew helpful and creative with your needs?

4) How would you rate the food?

5) Did it bother you that you were vacationing on a floating morgue?

6) Is there anything that you could have done to make the crew’s sailing experience any more pleasurable? Please, give a detailed answer with pictures.

7) Do you think that we would allow you to sail with us again?

8) Do you really need to see your luggage that you put outside your door last night again?

9) Were we adequately compensated for our services? Translation- we hope that you tipped us really well because remember those bags we just talked about…

10) Sorry, but we could not think of a tenth question.

I only wrote one thing: please, show more assess next time.
So you wouldn't recommend it, Nannette?

If you are into going on cruises full of naked asses, guys named Chad, and spreadable cheese, then I most certainly would recommend it.