It is almost impossible to pack correctly for a tropical cruise during the winter.
When it is a balmy -10F outside and you are hip-deep in snow, even the memory of what to wear during the summer has vanished into a frosty hazy.
So you ask yourself, what would Jimmy Buffet do?
Inspired by the answer, you toss a pair of worn-out sandals, two pairs of wrinkled cargo shorts, three pairs of undies and the only t-shirt you own without something offensive printed on it into a carry-on and race for the airport.
Five days later….
When the color of your t-shirt is not the same as when you packed it. When your sandals have been confiscated by the ship’s hazmat team and your cargo shorts are walking around by themselves on the Lido Deck – it is time to do laundry.
But have you ever attempted to do laundry on a cruise ship?
Let me restate that.
Have you ever competed for a finite resource with 3,500 other desperate people, a thousand of whom have only one pair of clean underwear to share between them?
It is easier to win the PowerBall than to find an available washing machine on a cruise liner and if by chance you are one of the lucky few, you will soon learn how amazingly small a washing machine can be.
So there you are at 2:46 AM, deep below deck in the laundry with four other people none of whom has the courage to look at each other because each is equally mortified by what they saw dumped into the washing machines. To pass the time you read a novel.
Four chapters later – you check your machine – it is still filling.
“Oh cruel irony!” you shout to the heavens, “why is the smallest washing machine in the universe, also the slowest?”
No one thinks it odd because each in their own turn has vocalized a similar complaint.
But you know the answer. The cruise company brought you to the islands to buy over-priced t-shirts and cargo-shorts, not to sit in a laundry at 2:46 AM.
By 5:30 AM, the washer mercifully grinds to a halt. Unfortunately, the last available drier became unavailable at 5:29 AM. So you stuff your heap of soggy laundry into a suddenly too-small trash bag and sulk down the hall to decorate your cabin with clothing.
You string undies in the shower. You drape them over the door knobs and strew them across any surface that is vaguely water resistant. All the while you wonder, why are there so many of these things when you packed so few? But it is 5:40 AM and you have been up all night. Answers do not come easily.
At 5:45 AM, you race to the buffet to beat the 6:00 AM rush. When you return to your cabin at 7:00 AM, the sun is peeking over the horizon. It gives you a wink. You get an idea, why not put all the laundry out on the balcony and let the sun to do its magic?
You festoon the balcony with laundry then post a sign on the door reading: DO NOT DISTURB – EVEN IF WE ARE SINKING!!
At 9:13 AM, a clunk wakes you. You think nothing of it. Ship life is full of clunks. Now, something slams into the balcony door. It rings with the unmistakable chime of a deck-chair.
The ship has turned directly into a mighty wind and the deck chairs are racing each other in circles around your balcony.
You look outside, not trace of underwear.
You step to the rail and peer down the length of the hull. Row upon row of balconies are strewn – with undies. You notice people staring in your direction. You are the only one staring in theirs.
It is then you recall that you packed only a meager number of undies. The remainder that you pulled out of the washer – were not yours.