Tag Archives: Possible Insanity

Anticipation and the Aftermath

We’ve been on 19 cruises (18 on Norwegian), so even though there are a lot of people who probably consider us still rookies, we’re getting a bit jaded.
While there are always new ships coming out, the experience – the essence of what makes a cruise line unique – is pretty much the same. Whether you’re on the Jewel class or Breakaway+, you know you’re on a Norwegian ship.
As mentioned before, we’re branching out. Actually, we’re branching out twice in the next few months. It’s complicated.
We discovered a while back that MSC Cruises will status-match in their Voyager Club Program, based on your status on other lines. I filled in the form when we first considered MSC – in case they changed their minds, but we never took the plunge. Well, actually, we found a Norwegian cruise instead, and Virginia decided known over unknown was safer, even though it was more expensive.
This year, after looking at the prices for Christmas (a Christmas cruise is a family tradition), we finally booked MSC. (This means Norwegian is really, really expensive.) The agent found our Voyager Club memberships from whenever I did the status match, had them added to the cruise, and we were all set. We started researching the ship (we’ll be on the MSC Divina), and we were set.
Let the anticipation begin.
Then, I looked at my Voyager Club page, and my Black membership (their highest level) was marked as expiring in June.
A loyalty account that expires?
So, we called and reminded them that we were booked at Christmas in the Yacht Club, their highest class of cabin. Apparently, that’s very appreciated, but you still have to sail once every three years.
Thus began the five stages…

  • “Surely, they don’t mean expired.” — Denial
  • “What is wrong with them? Cancel it!” — Anger
  • “They can’t mean us. We’re going at Christmas.” — Bargaining
  • “We’re going to be nobodies on this ship. We’re starting over.” — Depression
  • “Well, we’ll survive. It’s a cruise.” — Acceptance

Luckily, this is the cruise industry, so there is a sixth step – Booking.
“We have to cruise every three years to keep our status? We have to sail by June? Fine. Book us.”
So, our first MSC Cruise on the MSC Divina won’t be our first MSC Cruise, after all. We’re sailing on the MSC Seaside in May.
What kind of crazy person books a cruise to keep a status they never actually earned? That would be us. Cruisaholics.
I would think we’re just insane, but when we mentioned it to some friends, they started looking at their calendars.
So, now, we have anticipation.
Virginia wanted to sail on the Seaside, so she gets her wish. I wanted to try MSC, so I get my wish.
We will maintain our Black status so people who have been on MSC more than us (say, once) will envy us.
It’s time to start planning.

Cruising Ducks Trauma

This should not surprise me, since everything these days turns into an argument, but so it goes.
Cruising Ducks were supposed to be a fun diversion on a cruise. You hide a duck, somebody finds it, they let you know and hopefully, pass it on.
Simple. What could be controversial?
Apparently, some of the group members on Facebook (the source of much of today’s angst) don’t think we’re giving the ducks with the proper attitude.
This started because some people foolishly mentioned that nobody every said they found one of their ducks.
The group overview states you should tag your ducks and tell people to post a photo in the group. It’s a closed group, so you have to ask permission to join, just to post a photo. So, I’m pretty sure that stops a lot of people.
So, even though the group implies you should find out if people find your duck, you probably won’t.
This is not a big deal, but it doesn’t mean people won’t be disappointed.
Apparently, some people don’t think we should be disappointed. There are some in the group who berate those expressing disappointment because they don’t understand giving.
Understand giving?
I’m all for making others happy, but leaving random plastic animals around isn’t really how I usually go about doing it.
So, I mentioned that my ducks have an email address, so those who don’t want to go through the group can still report on the ducks. This is how I know where Sir Francis is currently located.
So, now I’m a bad giver. I can live with that. I just think some people should shut the hell up about what good givers they are, since they’re really just trying to get people to tell them “Bravo!”
Isn’t that more hypocritical than saying, “Hey, I left a gift out in the open for anyone to find. Can you tell me if you found it?”


I realized the other day that I might have a problem with cruising when someone called me an “aquaholic.” (In this case, it may have been a case of “pot-kettle.”) This is a great term for someone addicted to cruising, and a domain squatter thinks so, as well, since the Internet domain could be mine for only a hundred and fifty grand.
Luckily, I’ve had cruiseaholics.com registered for years, and it points here, so I’ll just use that term, instead.
I didn’t really take offense at either term, because they’re humorous (and they’re true.)
I was trying to develop a twelve step program to break yourself of cruising, but I realized that nobody afflicted would be interested. So, I decided to just document the warning signs. My wife, Virginia, helped, by suggesting some and living the others.
The first warning sign is that you understand any of this list, so tread carefully.
For Norwegian Cruise Line, your cruise consultant at the cruise line (as opposed to an independent travel agent) is called a Personal Cruise Consultant – your PCC. Passengers of other lines just change PCC in this list to your term of choice.
With that, the warning signs:

  • You’ve actually read the Cruise Contract and Terms & Conditions.
  • You can quote the Cruise Contract and Terms & Conditions.
  • You have quoted the Cruise Contract and Terms & Conditions to some idiot online who is slagging your cruise line of choice.
  • Your PCC is on your cell phone’s Favorites list. (This was an old joke I had about my wife’s phone – Virginia’s speed dial list was all our veterinarians, all her siblings, our PCC and then me. See next item, as this is no longer just a joke.)
  • When you’re staying in Miami the night before a cruise, you decide you want to visit Scarpetta, a lovely restaurant by Scott Conant, a chef you have seen on Food Network. (This seems normal, although you may watch Food Network too much.) Three weeks before the cruise, you decide to invite your PCC to dinner, as well. This is borderline. He accepts. Now we’re getting into dangerous territory. You tell him at the end of a lovely meal to mention to your friends (some of his other Cruiseaholic customers) that the restaurant you took him to was better than the one they took him to. This is a definite sign. For the record, Virginia took out her phone at dinner, and her favorite list is me, her sisters and our PCC. I’m pretty sure she edited the list to lower him before she showed it.
  • You realize you should invite your PCC to dinner because on your previous cruise, you had dinner with him and his parents.
  • You have three cruises booked and you’re still trying to decide where to go “next.”
  • You change cabin preferences based on the ship.
  • You know it’s a “cabin”, not a “room.”
  • You know it’s a “ship”, not a “boat.”
  • You spend an hour with GPS, the navigation channel and weather reports, trying to determine why the seas are rougher than usual. (We’re on the Norwegian Bliss currently – a ship we sailed last August in Alaska. This is a rough trip – not bad, just a bit rough. So, I started making some notes. Our cabin is forward, not aft. We’re on a different deck. We’re on a Caribbean cruise, not Alaskan. We’re not actually in the Caribbean, we’re in the Atlantic. We have a stiff headwind. It’s rainy weather.)
  • You enjoy the “new ship” smell, and can say so without giggling.
  • You know what a Meet & Greet is.
  • You’ve attended a Meet & Greet on more than two ships.
  • You know Norwegian’s Meet & Greets are better than Carnival’s.
  • You’ve organized a Meet & Greet.
  • The Hotel Director recognized you at the Meet & Greet.
  • You’re invited to the Captain’s Private Reception and you don’t go, because you had dinner reservations and because you met him last time, anyway.
  • You know what ships your favorite crew are on.
  • You know what ships your favorite crew are on because you’re friends with them on Facebook.
  • You tell one Cruise Director you know his friend, another Cruise Director, and you can discuss his startup business at home.
  • You’re afraid to visit the Philippines because you’re afraid you’ll be treated as a god.
  • You’ve considered moving to Miami to save on airfare.
  • You laughed at anything on this list.
Cruising Ducks

Cruising Ducks

(Editor’s Note: for our first example, please see here.)

Sometimes, you hear something so strange (and possibly insane), you wonder why you didn’t think of it yourself. This is one of those occasions.

First, an aside – After all the time I’ve spent with GPS units, you really think I would have become more serious about Geocaching

Geocaching is a sport / avocation / hobby where people hide caches and then leave the GPS coordinates and hints on a website, so others can go out and find them. When you find a geocache, you sign the log book if it’s available and then log your cache on the website. There are also trackables – small items that look like dogtags with serial numbers, so their position can be tracked by serial number. You can watch trackables move around the world, as geocachers take them along on trips and leave them in new and exciting places. 

Someone either didn’t know about trackables, or someone did, and thought, “Serial numbers. Tracking databases. Logging. That seems like a lot of work.”

It’s also impossible to do on a cruise ship, since the GPS coordinates change frequently, and even if you just use the coordinates at the pier, it’s not like the security team is going to let somebody onboard to “look for a geocache since you’re here”. 

Why is life so complicated? Why not just hide something on a cruise ship, have people find it, tell you about it on Facebook, and then hide it again, either on the ship or on another ship on their next cruise? 

Hence, Cruising Ducks.

My wife discovered this Facebook group and immediately ordered rubber ducks (plastic, actually, I think), some custom labels, adhesive labels to print the Info to put on the custom labels, and began chatting incessantly about how fun this would be. 

So, the first secret to getting her involved in anything (she has zero interest in geocaching) is to require her to go shopping. If it’s shopping for something cute, so much the better. 

She is not spoiled by geocaching so she thinks hiding ducks is brilliant. I’m thinking “How do you track the duck from ship to ship? There’s no serial number. There’s no name (well, I named all of her ducks.) There’s no space on the label to write where it has been, just where it started.” 

Apparently, I’m sucking all the fun out of this. 

So, there are a multitude of people (I joined the Facebook group) who go around hiding rubber ducks on cruise ships. Most of them are hidden in plain sight, but most of the passengers are slightly inebriated, so it cancels out. When you find a duck, you follow the instructions on his name tag (hopefully – as in, hopefully, you follow them and hopefully, the owner put them there) and post a photo to the group and then either keep the duck or hide it somewhere else. 

Apparently, the crews all tolerate this. This may be why the daily service charge keeps going up. Duck maintenance. 

The bad part is that there are twenty ducks labeled and ready to go in my house, ten for this cruise and ten for our next one (the second ten are actually Duck Pirates.) I’m wondering what of mine will be left home to make way for ducklings. 

The good part is that someone else posted in the group this week that she had hidden 50 ducks on a five-day cruise and my wife said, “50? Fifty?!!? That’s CRAZY.” 

We’ll see how long she thinks fifty ducks on a cruise is crazy. I give it two cruises.