>I have learned that purgatory is a cruise ship. Think about it: you are trapped on the boat for days with no place to go. Most of the others on the boat are cheesy senior citizens in matching jogging suits, big-haired middle-aged women from New Jersey and their guido husbands, and skanky teenagers. It’s actually a little like being in Times Square, a place I generally avoid because I hate tourists who stop in the middle of the sidewalk to stare at everything, thus causing pedestrian congestion. At least you can leave Times Square and walk to some place civilized.

On the bright side, I am beyond psyched for the HAIRY CHEST CONTEST (it was in bold and all caps in the program for today’s going ons) this afternoon. I shit you not. This is my kind of cheese. Photographic evidence will be presented later this afternoon, so you will not have to wait in suspense over the results for long. (Thank goodness for technology!)

Unfortunately, the rest of the day’s events are more along the lines of (as typed in Freestyle Daily for Sat. March 18): OOOOH MY ACHING FEET, ARTHRITIS & PAIN SEMINAR, and Bridge Card Lecture. The main entertainment for the evening, with a showing at 7:30 and 9:30, is SOUTH BEACH RAVE (“Norwegian Cruise Line is proud to present “South Beach Rave,” featuring the Jean Ann Ryan Company. Don’t miss an opportunity to meet the cast after the show.”) The most gag inducing must be the PUB CRAWLERS UNITE at 9:00 pm. (“Join your Cruise Director’s Staff & Rowdy Pub Crawlers as we party our way through some of our favorite Pubs & Bars onboard.”) Seriously, I don’t know whether to laugh or cry at things like this.

Two large ironies on a cruise:
1. A significant number of people on the ship are living on the larger side of life, if you get my drift. A cruise offers a non-stop food fest, with all you can eat buffets and restaurants where they don’t blink an eye when you order two main entrees (as my Brother-in-Law did at dinner last night on advice from Big O). Yet the bedrooms are as small as it can get. The beds are singles. You can push them together, but two large people will probably not find that to be a comfortable solution. The shower stall is extremely narrow, and even the toilet in the bedroom is contained in a very small stall. It must be excruciatingly uncomfortable for many of the cruise ship’s guests. Not uncomfortable enough, though, to help folks resist the lure of all the junk food constantly thrown at us.
2. To get to the ship’s fitness center, you may wind up walking past three buffets, a bar, an ice cream stand, and an Italian restaurant, depending on what part of the ship you are coming from. I have seen several people grab a cookie (or five) and then head into the gym.

Ah, the joys of cruising. At first, I worried that my bad attitude going into the trip would prevent me from having a good time. Then I remembered that I often dread events (like bridal or baby showers, weddings, brisses – just kidding on brisses!), and when I go I almost always have a great time. I think the main problem I have with cruising is how contrary it is to what I love about travel. I really enjoy going to a place where I can wander around and experience a different culture. I like museums, walking around cities, and eating with the locals. I love foreign grocery stores. Even a roadtrip to some cheesy site is cool because it is a way to try something new. Being at sea does not offer any of this. It is like a resort in the Catskills in the early 1960s, only slightly worse because there is not even stable ground under me. At least I have the Hairy Chest Contest to look forward to. I’ll take what I can get here.