If you’ve been on a cruise, it’s likely that you’ve heard some of these humorous queries before. For some folks, the minute they begin their vacation they turn off all common sense (or never had any to begin with) and go into what behaviorists call “oblivious zombie” mode. I believe the scientific classification is stercorem pro cerebro habes. Cruise directors love to tell stories about these special passengers and these odd questions are frequently referenced by crewmembers when they are asked to tell about the most bizarre or odd thing they’ve seen or heard during their contract.
I always assumed that some of these anecdotes were true, some were exaggerated and some were just plain made up, albeit funny stories. After all, the first few hours that a ship is open for boarding is a strange kind of free-for-all with the first-timers trying to figure out their way around the ship, learning the bow from the stern, trying to find their cabins and so on. Then, during a ship inspection at a cruise convention in Florida, a passenger who had just boarded the ship walked up to me and asked one of the “famous” questions:
“Which elevator goes to the front of the ship?”
I guess she thought I was a crewmember since I was wearing a nametag and lanyard around my neck. It was hard for me not to burst out laughing. My sense of humor could best be described as “sarcastic” and it was extremely difficult for me not to be a smart ass in this situation. Somehow I prevailed and gave her the most level-headed answer I could muster.
“On this ship the elevators only go up and down. But you can take this passageway to our left and it will take you to the front of the ship. Have a great cruise!”
She seemed genuinely grateful for my assistance but I had to wonder – how many more of the crazy cruiser questions would she ask before the week was up?
Here are some of the other questions she might have asked:
“What time is the midnight buffet?”
This one is similar to the “What time is the two o’clock parade?” question frequently asked at the Disney parks. The only difference is that at Disney, the guests are typically wondering what time the parade will pass by their current location in the park. It’s easy to forgive their badly worded query. But since the midnight buffet is typically a one-time affair on a cruise ship and usually in a single location, it’s difficult to fathom how this question could be misinterpreted.
“Is the water in the toilets fresh water or salt water?”
To me, this question begs for two more to be asked:
1) Why do you care?
2) What exactly are you doing with the water in the toilet?
Even in the most barren of cruise cabins, your bathroom will include a sink and shower or tub, so I cannot imagine a reason that the water in the toilet would ever need to leave said toilet.
“Where does the ship’s crew go at night?” or “Does the crew sleep on the ship?”
The answer to the first question (and I’m being serious here) is the crew bar. They go there and share stories about all the stupid questions they’ve encountered that day. But honestly, when a passengers asks either of the questions above, they are most likely honestly confused as to where the crew resides. I’ve heard various wisecrack answers to this question, but most of them center around the same them, which is something like, “we have a helicopter that takes them back to the mainland.”
“What do you do with the ice sculptures once they melt?”
I can only guess that the originator of this question was someone too cheap to purchase some postcards or a snow globe in the gift shop and instead decided that they would take home some of the fancy decorations that adorn the vessel. These people are the reason that the artwork in the staterooms is fastened securely to the walls. Or maybe that’s because of me. Anyway…
“How many times has this ship sunk?”
Now I’m into recycling as much as the next man, but honestly…
“How does the ship get power?”
In this age of smart phones and tablets, I guess it’s really no surprise that this would be asked on a regular basis and in fact, it may be a smart question when you really consider it. John Q. Cruisepassenger is keenly aware that if he doesn’t charge his cell phone whenever he can, he won’t be able to play Angry Birds or check his fantasy football stats for very long. So naturally, as his thinking goes, a ship with several thousand people all trying to post their vacation photos to the net must need to be recharged. But how? I’ve personally heard several crewmembers tell folks that they have a long extension cord that runs all the way back to Miami. And no matter the home port, they almost always say Miami, as if Southern Florida is the only place that has the proper adapter for their cord.
“Can you please fix the broken microwave oven in my room?”
Ron White famously said, “You can’t fix stupid.” And you cannot fix a microwave when it is, in fact, a safe.
“I paid extra money for an oceanview stateroom and there is a building blocking my view/I have a parking lot view/etc.”
When I hear this one, I’m reminded of the movie “A League of their Own” and the line Jon Lovitz says as the girls are waiting for the train. “See how it works is: the train moves, not the station.”
“How do I know which photos are mine?”
If they’re asking this question on a ship, can you imagine their confusion on land? They must spend an inordinate amount of time going to various craft stores trying to find frames with pictures of themselves or their family in them. Apparently it’s never occurred to them that those are just placeholders and unlike mattress tags, you are free to remove them.
“Our family booked ten different rooms. Will we all get to go to the same ports?”
Folks, this isn’t the Enterprise-D from “Star Trek: The Next Generation.” The ship isn’t going to split into two pieces and arrive at different destinations. Unless, of course, the vessel is named “Titanic” – in which case I’d strongly recommend reconsidering your life choices.
“How small does your face have to be to get the mini-facial at the spa?”
Smaller than your brain, which is extremely unlikely. Carry on.
“Do these stairs go up or down?”
Neither. They are closed because of a power outage. You’ll have to take the elevators. They’re powered by alpacas that live on deck 1.
I hope you’ve enjoyed our foray into the absurd. Thankfully, the customers we work with at Premier Custom Travel are quite intelligent and never ask these questions. Well I MIGHT have asked about the mini-facial…but just once.