At the risk of losing his job and never finding work again in the cruise industry, a veteran Captain reveals some of the darkest secrets of cruising that passengers are never supposed to know. We have protected his identity for this story.
A cruise executive friend of mine recently dropped by the house for a home-cooked dinner and some good wine. In order to protect his identity, let’s call him “Captain Morgan.”
Several hours and bottles of Bordeaux later, Captain Morgan agreed to an interview so I could ask some questions about cruising that have been on my mind for a long time. His answers were very revealing, and in some cases, quite shocking.
Here’s a summary of our discussion:
Me: On every cruise I’ve taken, the moment I leave my stateroom the cabin steward appears out of nowhere and makes up my room. How do they know when people leave their cabins? Do they have ESP or something?
Captain Morgan (CM): Don’t be silly. We have hidden video cameras in every room that your cabin steward watches 24 hours a day. It’s actually a great source of entertainment every night in the crew bar. Do you know that you snore at night?
Me: Speaking of the crew, there must be 800 or more crew of them working on large ships. Where do they all sleep at night?
CM: We ferry them ashore each night after their shift is over, and bring them back in the morning. Why do you think we have all those life boats?
Me: Large cruise ships must use lots of electricity. Where do you get the power from once you leave the pier?
CM: We use extension cords, very long extension cords. That’s the easy part. The real challenge is when we sail in Europe because we have to use the right converter plugs with the extension cords. That’s why we have a psychic on board.
Me: Do you put fresh or sea water in the ship’s swimming pool?
CM: Fresh water. Sea water would be too rough.
Me: Do medical staff on board cruise ships have to be licensed to practice medicine?
CM: Yes, but only on farm animals. Most people who visit the medical centre can’t tell the difference between a vet and a doctor until the doctor asks them to stomp their foot twice if they feel pain. And if they’ve got a mean hang-over, they just go along with it until they get the Valium.
Me: What’s the strangest thing that’s happened to you on a cruise ship?
CM: Meeting you. The second strangest thing was when we were boarding the ship at the pier in Miami and a very irate passenger called my office demanding to have his cabin changed. He told me, “I didn’t pay all this money for a balcony cabin just to have a view of the parking lot.” I went to the doctor, stomped my foot twice, and got some Valium!
Me: Is it possible to fall over the side of a cruise ship?
CM: Yes, especially if you don’t tip the staff well enough.
Me: Are musicians on ship any good?
CM: Yes, we tell them they have to be in synch or swim.
CD: What do you do with the ice sculptures after they melt?
CM: That one makes my head hurt. I think it’s time to put the rum away and go home.
Me: Good night Captain Morgan. And have a good April Fool’s Day!