So I heard this morning that the drifting Carnival cruise ship Triumph actually has some working toilets now. Yippee! SOME working toilets. Which by default means SOME still not-working toilets. I cannot even imagine what a miserable trip that must be.
For the last few days, they’ve had NO toilets flushing. You know, I sort of value having a working toilet nearby. Can you imagine the smell, the disgusting-ness, of over 4000 people trapped on a boat with no working toilets?
And no showers either, but let’s face it….given showers or toilets, the toilets not working is really a more serious issue, dontcha think? And if there’s no running water, then they can’t wash their hands, and . . .this just becomes too gross to really think about too much.
I am thinking on top of the smells, hunger, heat, humidity and just generally suckiness of the situation, people are probably not being overly friendly. I know that I struggle with being nice when I am hot, tired, hungry, disappointed, scared, unclean, and generally pissed about where I am and what is happening. (basically, tent camping)
And then add into that mix the whole toilet/shower/hand-washing issue, and I think it’s safe to say that not everyone is playing nicely. There are probably more than a few conflicts and personality clashes with 4000 people all vying for a primo spot on the deck to be able to sleep in the open breeze, hopefully upwind from the smells of the ship and other passengers.
Think about how dark it must be on that boat with no power. They have “emergency generators” but those have still got to be some pretty dark, dismal hallways. I would be having visions of twins saying “REDRUM, REDRUM, REDRUM”. Of course, I wouldn’t be going down the dark hallways. I’d be up on deck vying for the primo spot!
None of that would bother me as much as the feeling of vulnerability and helplessness of being stranded in the water. Subject to the currents, the wind and the waves. (Thankfully they are in the Caribbean and not near Somalia and its friendly locals!)
I do love cruising, but I must admit that in order to be okay on a cruise ship, I sort of put out of my mind the fact that I am on the open sea. That I am confined inside a ship with no way out except water. Deep water. With who knows what swimming in it.
So when I see stories of a ship aimlessly adrift at sea with no power, no water, no toilets, and no way to get off the boat, I cringe. I shudder.
We were evacuated from a cruise once. It happened before we set sail, during the muster drill (when everyone meets up in a pre-determined location looking fashionable in their life vests). The PA system announced for all officers to come to the bridge, followed by all security. Then they announced for all personnel not directly involved in the muster drill to come to the lido deck. I told the kids it sounded like it might be a while before they got in the pool. And I was right.
Within minutes, the announcement was made for everyone to evacuate the ship via the nearest exit. Do not return to your room, do not collect your personal belongings, do not pass GO. Get off the freakin’ boat.
We filed into the parking lot with the other couple of thousand people on board and found that the crew was already evacuated and in the parking lot ahead of us.
I wasn’t overly worried. I figured it was some technical issue, and they would have it figured out and we’d be on our way soon.
FOUR HOURS LATER. . . It was HOT in that parking lot. Florida-hot, Africa-hot, Hades-hot, whatever you want to call it. It was HOT. No shade. No place to sit. No breeze. Just a couple thousand grumpy people standing in a parking lot being told nothing.
Many people had on nothing but swimsuits, and some had no shoes on standing on that hot pavement. Hardly any of us had a purse, wallet, ID, money—all essentials to carry on your person while traveling on land, but you throw that in the safe in the room when you get on the boat. It really made me think about how vulnerable we are when we cruise.
Eventually we got word from someone with a cell phone that there was a bomb threat. We questioned if we were far enough away if it really did blow up, and we questioned how everyone would fly back home or make any arrangements if all our IDs, passports, airline tickets, keys, etc all blew to smithereens with the boat. At least the news helicopters stirred the air a bit and almost gave us a breeze.
Elderly guests had started to pass out in the unrelenting sun, and a couple of pregnant women were laying down on people’s life jackets. Sunburned babies and Brits sweated in their misery, and my kids begged to just go home.
There was no word from the cruise line as to what was going on, and no word as to when we’d be freed from our asphalt prison yard.
Finally, my gallant Knight had enough. He grabbed my hand and led the kids and me through the crowd as though we were in Manhattan at rush hour. He parted the people in his New York-ness, and I came behind him apologizing and saying “pardon me” in full Southern accent.
He got us right up to the gate. Which was in a tunnel. With low ceilings. And LOTS of sweaty, irritated people. So although we were out of the sun which had given me a migraine, the new situation had me on the verge of a claustrophobic panic attack.
But then suddenly, cruise suits appeared, and the gates were opened. The captives were freed. My Knight had led our family to be the very first ones back on the boat, which was eerie and quiet in its desertedness.
The crew was sweating it out behind us in the parking lot, so there was no one on board to have prepared any meals or drinks. We left the dock over four hours later than planned, and dinner was not served until almost 10pm. We arrived in the Bahamas the next day hours after schedule, and anyone with excursions that morning missed them in our tardiness.
At the time, I thought that was a pretty bad cruise experience, but looking back at that now, I guess it wasn’t so bad. The toilets worked! And at least it happened on land. I would take that any day over floating in a dark ship with no toilets, or worse—floating around on life boats, or even worse—being blown to smithereens.
And I’d cruise again. I’d sail out tomorrow if I could. Things happen no matter where you go in life. All mishaps can’t be avoided. I choose to bank on the odds being in my favor that nothing is going to happen.
We all do that, don’t we? Every time we get in a car, or on a plane, or in today’s world, even going to a mall or movie theater. We bank on the odds being in our favor that nothing bad is going to happen.
We choose to live life. We deal with the crap if it happens. (Oh. Sorry. That really wasn’t meant as a toilet pun!)