It was my first cruise.
I boarded the boat/ship/vessel at Fremantle and took a short cruise to Singapore.
It would take me hours to get aboard and find my cabin. Luggage delivered later and no booze allowed in the baggage. But that’s okay, I’m off out to investigate.
The ship is massive. It’s called HMS, SS, RAS or MS Expansive…it should be called SS Expensive.
After getting lost three times and having to be rescued by crew members, I arrived at the ballroom.
This was my first mistake.
There are around three quarters of the passengers over 90 years old on this ship. Seeing a man in the ballroom was like a shark seeing blood. I was engulfed in female flesh…begging…no threatening me to have a dance before being trampled to death. Escaping with minor injuries, I luckily stumbled in to the bar.
Ordering water I received a large glass and the bill was only ten dollars. Why ten dollars for H2O, I enquired. That’s for the chaser, I was told. A triple Black label whisky and ice…’we never close’, was the bar motto.
I met a lady from South Africa, and she warned be about the food on board. When she boarded in Cape Town she weighed 65kg …by the time she arrived back in Fremantle, she was 100kg. There is food of every kind all over the ship, and it’s free. You need the self-control of a vomitarian to survive for six weeks on this liner.
The evening meal was a delight and followed by the best entertainment I have seen since I last visited Las Vegas. A quick visit to the casino and it was time for bed.
It was around 2 o’ clock as I headed for my cabin. Did I say the majority of passengers were senior citizens? Well, by two o’clock the ship was deserted and the oldies had gone off to bed…I thought I was aboard the Mary Celeste.
I took the lift down one floor and looked for my cabin. Hundreds of metres of passage-ways were completely deserted. I usually take my car if I am crossing the road to see a neighbour, but that night I walked for kilometres up and down empty hallways. Finally, unable to find my cabin, I arrived back at the lift.
As I was about to take the lift, I heard voices. At last I could ask my way to safety. I heard a female voice.
”Yes, yes, yes”, she said, “Faster, faster, faster”, she said.
A male voice replied, “I am going as fast as my pacemaker will allow”.
I decided to leave them playing with their dominoes and took the lift back up to the main deck.
Deserted, not a soul about, so I went out on the sun deck, found a deckchair and blanket, and then settled down for the night.
I’d barely closed my eyes when I was poked in the ribs.
“You can’t sleep there”, a voice said.
“Who are you?” I said.
It turns out he was a stoker in a previous life and was now a Poker of passengers assumed to be drunk and liable to fall overboard. He looked up and saw a lady passenger leaning over the rail. I couldn’t tell you if she was chucking her guts up or attempting to find her cabin. I never got the chance to find out what she was doing, because the Poker was on her like a lion seeing after a zebra.
“You can’t do that here”, he said.
She attempted to push him off the boat. I rushed to help her, but Poker was too quick and disappeared to find the captain, or the hallway monitor.
Leaving the now slumbering lady, I returned to search for my cabin. On the main deck I finally found a member of the crew. He said he would help me find my cabin and questioned me about my key. His face now resembled my old school headmaster.
Talking to me like a trooper in his army, and using similar language, he informed me he had been a Major in the colonies. He accompanied me to the desk where a computer was manned by a man no taller than the desk…I had missed him on my previous visit to the main deck.
Giving me a glare, he asked my name and informed me I was on the wrong ship. This boat was going to Hong Kong.
Heading for the sun deck with the intention of throwing myself overboard, I was stopped by the Major who told me they were only joking…and that my cabin was one deck down and six cabins to the left of the lift.
Reaching my cabin at 6 o’clock and jumping fully clothed into bed, I was surprised by the door opening and the steward telling me that breakfast had arrived. After a six course breakfast I returned to my cabin for a well-earned sleep.
My cabin was of course filled with cleaners washing, polishing and exchanging, towels, flannels, toothpaste, brushes and perfumes.
After my sleep, I went wandering around the ship.
I stumbled into the ball room .
Half naked, I reached the bar and after two or three H2O’s, I was able to join in the karaoke.
Songs from the Crimean and Boer wars were screeched out at regular intervals by men and women who looked old enough to have served their countries all those years ago.
A seven course lunch and back to the cabin for a little sleep.
I awoke two days later as the ship entered down town Singapore. It looked like Port Said in Egypt.
Having tipped everyone on board, and with a lighter wallet, I prepared to go ashore…peace at last.
Upon returning to Fremantle, it looked heaven. I had a coffee and some H2O, then caught the bus home.
The wife asked where I had been, and I told her, ‘not bad for a first cruise’, but I ‘m happy to be home again.
It’s the oldies night, and bingo down at the pub…ahh…the delights of home.
Cruise again, maybe…when I need a long sleep.