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No Snoozing While Cruising: How to Improve the Trip

By MARC LIPMAN | Aug 02, 2017

I recently finished a cruise to the Caribbean. Afterward, I started thinking about some hints and suggestions for future passengers and some enhancements for the cruise line to consider.

Crew members are always willing to answer your questions. Ask the question to at least three different crew members. Take the two answers that match (or the one answer that you like best). The Rainbow Tour bus on Grand Turk Island does go to the lighthouse.

Our stateroom came with a slot that you had to put your keycard into to keep the lights working. This can be annoying if your keycard is in your backpack somewhere. A business card works just as well (this method also works with hotel rooms that have a keycard control for the lights).

When picking a tour bus at your island stop, ask if your driver has aspirations of becoming a talk show host. If so, avoid him!

Also, when taking the tender ashore, ask the pilot whether he worked on the Costa Concordia.

Be cautious with your cocktails. The Bloody Mary I ordered came with four olives. An olive that tastes exactly like a jalapeño pepper looks just like one that tastes like an olive.

We enjoyed the entertainment at the theater each night. But a suggestion: When the comedian asks if anyone is having a birthday this week, don’t raise your hand!

When you’re ashore by mid-morning at the place that offers the original banana daiquiri, remember, “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere.”

Wi-Fi is often available at a number of shops on shore. Avoid those where the password is longer than the name of the restaurant.

For me, the hot tub is a place of both relaxation and social interaction. Before the cruise, rehearse your “What do you do for a living?” answers. If the person is a salesman, I am unemployed. If the person is a publisher, I am an aspiring writer. If the person is a lawyer, I go to the other hot tub.

Here are some suggestions for the cruise companies. One aspect of cruises is the overabundance of wonderful things to eat. The menus include numerous entrées with descriptions that just beg us to overindulge. Maybe each entrée should come with a size. As our belts start to tighten, we can pick a small portion. Since that probably won’t happen, here’s another suggestion. In addition to the services offered on board like spas and salons, a custom tailor service should be offered. That way we could have our clothing taken out after we have a few meals with three desserts.

This would lead them to a new way of charging for cruises. I realize that passengers who want fancy staterooms should be charged extra. But for the basic cost of the cruise, the cruise company should weigh each passenger at the beginning and the end of the cruise and charge accordingly.

Our waistlines are not the only things that have gotten larger. Cruise ships have also expanded. Even our modestly sized one was about 20 percent larger than the Titanic. They have a number of elevators (the typical cruise ship seems to have about a dozen decks). But how about going forward and aft (back, to you landlubbers)? At dinnertime we would walk from our “cabin” (“stateroom,” if we wanted to impress people) near the bow to the dining room at the stern, then back to the bow for the show. At least it helped my waistline compensate for the two appetizers. How about a moving walkway like the airports have? At least we would not be run down by errant electric wheelchairs.

Since we disabled our cell phones during the trip, we were not always aware of where each other was. Plus we were not always exactly sure where each place on the ship was. How about a ship’s GPS app? We could say, “Pinnacle Grill,” and it would direct us there. Or we could say, “Where is Fred?” and it would say, “Fred is in the Neptune Lounge.”

When we came aboard we were given a passcard that uniquely identifies us. How about adding a little customization to it? A simple RFID chip could have information such as when I want decaf coffee (dinner, breakfast, lunch or never). I could also put in special requests like: “Never ask if I want a massage or pedicure” or “Have my gin and tonic ready as soon as I sit down at the bar.”

Photographs by the professional staff are part of every cruise. A “no photographs” option might be desirable. However, my wife did ask if they could take one of us at the formal dinner and replace my face with Tom Cruise’s. How about this option? Before the cruise we could send in pictures of ourselves. The photograph staff could morph our faces into pictures of people participating in activities throughout the ship. For people who don’t like cruises, they wouldn’t even have to go. For an extra fee they could even have pictures of themselves going on the shore excursions.

Other amenities could be customized for each passenger. In-room bars could be stocked specifically for the occupants. For us older folks, there would be Pepto-Bismol and Centrum Silver instead of Jack Daniel’s and Bacardi.

Sometimes the cruise is booked to capacity with passengers of all ages. Perhaps the pools and hot tubs should have “adults-only” times.

I did have a problem after the cruise, though. I went into a local restaurant and said to the waitress, “I’ll have the Early Bird Special, but with two appetizers, the Surf and Turf, but with two lobsters instead of the Prime Rib, asparagus instead of broccoli, and both dessert choices.”

Marc Lipman lives in Green Brook, N.J., and Barnegat Light.

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