RHETA GRMSLEY JOHNSON: Boats are to love, but a monster cruise has no allure

If a genie granted me three wishes, I’d be sitting topside on a wooden houseboat in France eating a bottomless meringue.
That’s why humans aren’t granted wishes. We’re shortsighted. Instead of good health, sensible and perpetual nourishment and perhaps a maintenance-free fiberglass boat – I love the romance of wooden boats but know my record for keeping things up – I would indulge myself in unrestrained fantasy and end up fat and diabetic on a rotten vessel.
The only thing I got right was the country.
That said, I’ve at least had enough sense in this life never to take a cruise. I’ve taken a freighter across the Atlantic, an open pontoon boat down the Tennessee-Tombigbee, a sailboat trip or two. I’ve been aboard a small barge on a French canal with three other people and with a few hundred passengers on a state ferry up Alaska’s Inside Passage. Love boats. Love the water.
But a cruise on a ship carrying more folks than live in my town has never even tempted me. I get claustrophobic and sick just thinking about it.
The most recent cruise-ship debacle – Carnival Splendor, was it? – only confirmed my suspicion that it’s best to avoid vacations promising contrived fun, round-the-clock food, minions to wait on you and splendor of every kind in close quarters with 3,000 other wildly expectant travelers. It’s a genie wish that ain’t happening. Prepare to get in line for a Spam sandwich.
I’m not good at math word problems. But I once lived in an old house in Georgia with five toilets. At any given time, one of those toilets was not working. Given that law of averages, how many toilets out of 1,000 would be malfunctioning on a cruise ship?
But, back to that proverbial genie again, if one could be reassured that nothing whatsoever would go wrong on a cruise to Camelot, I’d still stay ashore. Cruises smack of a desperate need to be entertained. Instant imagination gratification. Instead of the get-rich-quick appeal the casinos have, cruises promise to be a lifeboat for captive-audience romance and exotic, rich-folk living.
Now, I know people have different ideas about what constitutes fun. Many wouldn’t agree with my idea of mowing the grass as a good time. Many enjoy cruises and report back with rave reviews.
And I’ve been amazed at some of the recently rescued, optimistic passenger comments as they tramped down the Splendor gangplank behind a woman with a broken shoulder and two felons taken prisoner immediately upon landing. Some already were planning their next cruise. On the same line.
One man described the experience as “luxury camping.” Camping with more than 3,000 other people round the campfire roasting 10 weenies, but an admirable, charitable view all the same.
To those of you who enjoy a cruise, I say, “Bon voyage and bonne chance!” I’ll drive you to the dock. I’ll take your photo as you board.
But I’ll pass on the class of monster cruise-ship cruising and pick you up when they tow you back to shore.
Rheta Grimsley Johnson is a syndicated columnist. She lives in the Iuka vicinity. Contact her at Iuka, MS 38852.

Rheta Grimsley Johnson

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