Hello, sailor (all my lovin’)

Carnival Cruise Lines ought to be planting some big-ass Valentine’s Day smoocheroos on the 4,200 smelly suckers who thought they were taking the Love Boat to Cozumel but found themselves aboard a barely floating honey wagon being towed to Alabama.

Alas, the waters in which these buccaneers ply their trade are full of pinstriped sharks, heavy on teeth but lacking in the lip department.

Lawyers speaking with The New York Times say the ability of passengers to sue cruise-ship operators “is sharply limited,” and the location for any court action generally fixed in some shithole (Miami) favorable to piracy. “Shiver me timbers, matey, ye must file yeer complaint on Skull Island, arr.” Plus passengers are barred from collecting for emotional distress unless they are actually flogged, keelhauled or forced at cutlass point to walk the plank.

No gambling? No drinking? No showers? Sounds like a little trip to heaven.

Herself is on a little trip to Vegas, where they have all three of the aforementioned items plus “Love,” the Cirque du Soleil tribute to making money. I would insist on a functional toilet afterward, or perhaps during. But it was a girls’ outing and I wasn’t invited for some reason, so I’ll just have to make do with my memories of the Fab Four’s debut on “The Ed Sullivan Show.” Was it really almost a half-century ago?

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29 Responses to “Hello, sailor (all my lovin’)”

  1. khal spencer Says:

    Apparently this wasn’t the first time the Carnival’s high seas fleet has had issues with the ship’s physical plant. “…This was the fourth engine room fire on a Carnival owned ship resulting in a loss of power, the others being the Tropicale in 1999, the Carnival Splendor in 2010, and the Costa Allegra, owned by a Carnival subsidiary, in 2012…”


    Between the Carnival Triumphantly pulling into Mobile Bay while reeking of shit and another great liner recently turning turtle in the Med as its captain showed off his navigation and pocket pool skills, I’d rather spend my vacation drinking beer in Durango, which is far enough from the Rio Grande Rift that I don’t have to worry about the ground splitting open under me.

    I was on the ammunition ship USS Nitro back in 1973 doing midshipman duty in the engine room when a sailor accidentally broke a fuel line feeding the boilers. That sprayed fuel oil all over the place and dropped power to the steam turbines. This was while we were unrepping the aircraft carrier USS America, i.e., UNderway REPlenishment, which means attaching the ships to each other in close proximity with cables and transferring munitions to the warship from the supply ship while steaming on the high seas. The resulting emergency breakaway from the flattop made for more excitement than any of us had planned, as well as some beet red faces on the guys with the fancy uniforms. Such was the USN immediately after Vietnam.

    Having the shit hit the fan on the open ocean ain’t ever fun. Sounds like these folks got their money’s worth of harrowing adventure. Fortunately, they made it back to port upright, even if it meant not looking like a king.

  2. Patrick O'Brien Says:

    I would rather give a cougar a pedicure with Dremel mototool in a phone booth than go on a cruise.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      I had a bad experience with boating in my formative years. The old man got a mite too enthusiastic while twisting the throttle of an Evinrude, popped what would’ve been a wheelie in a car instead of a motorboat, and ejected my sis and me into the drink. Never trusted anything livelier than a canoe since.

  3. Larry T. Says:

    I always thought cruises were for folks just physically fit enough to watch TV – the whole idea seems to be waddling back and forth from the buffets to deck chairs or your cabin while you gawk at what the ship sails past. But over here they even try to sell ’em to cyclists, http://www.msccruises.com/gl_en/About-MSC-Cruises/News/Mediterranean-MSC-Cycling-Cruise.aspx
    Not for me! The idea of being strapped to a chaise lounge on a cruise ship sounds more like going to jail than going on vacation. Here in Italy, a new phrase for screwing up is “doing a Schettino” after that fellow’s antics when the Concordia ran aground off the coast of Tuscany.

  4. John Says:

    I dunno. The thought of taking a cruise in the Caribbean or Gulf of Oil Derriks leaves me nauseous, but I think I’d enjoy a cruise to see the every-shrinking glaciers in the Alaska panhandle (shrinking due to natural fluctuations in the Earth’s climate, nothing anthropogenic to see here, move along).

    Meanwhile, imagine being one of the passengers on that boat: you have a choice between being cooped up in a floating BLM outhouse or stepping off the ship and onto Alabama. Tough choice.

    • khal spencer Says:

      A buddy of mine and his wife just took a cruise to the Galapagos Is. on a small National Geographic ship. They were able to spend some time exploring areas on the islands that are strictly controlled to prevent damage.

      That sounds more interesting than sitting on my bum watching a bunch of other old fat people sun their own bums and hoping the cruise line company didn’t skimp on its engineering staff or upkeep. Shitting in a bag while a topheavy liner drifts in high seas while rolling 45 degrees ain’t my idea of fun.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      A couple we know just took one of The Nation‘s cruises and enjoyed the outing, save for the cough the male half brought back. He was hoping mightily that he didn’t infect Joan Baez.

      • John Says:

        I had never heard of “The Nation” cruises so I had to go Google it. (http://www.nationcruise.com/index.html) Oh man, my bullshit alarm hit the roof. What a great way for Holland America to squeeze money out of us progressive types (not that I have money) by selling a cruise featuring notable lefties during a time of the year (October) and place (the northeast) when they normally couldn’t sell a single ticket. Boston to Quebec City? In October? You guys ever heard of “The Perfect Storm”? Got yer Dramamine?

        Also, the whole “we have to go offshore to talk liberal talk” has a certain Bush era ring to it.

        Well, at least Joan Baez made a buck last year. She ain’t on the list this year, I noticed. Maybe she caught a cold last time.

      • khal spencer Says:

        I think if I spent a cruise with nothing but a bunch of fellow progressives I’d either jump over the side of the boat or become a Republican by the end of it. Monoculture has its limits or as Bill Maher would say, one does not need to live inside the bubble.

      • Steve O' Says:

        You name the demographic subset and there’s a cruise just for then. Left-handed Albanian Freemasons? Sure. Why not?

      • john Says:

        Apparently those folks out to starboard also have cruises, and many stop off in Juneau, where the Governor of Alaska, if ideologically aligned, will sometimes hold a nice lunch for the eminent conservative worthies.

        It was apparently just such an occasion where William Kristol, who somehow manages to be wrong more often than any other member of punditocracy, was wowed by that gosh-darn populist Governor who just happened to be an hot babe-o-saurus. He pushed her political career along, and — the rest is history.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        How about a “Prairie Home Companion” tour in the Med? Like the show sometimes, but a whole week?
        A tea pot cruise would have to stop in Phoenix to see the blonde with no brains. Every time my older brother with the right lean calls to pull my political chain, I leave him with the vision of him waking up with Nancy and Jan and trying to decide with arm to gnaw off first. Yes, he deserves it.

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Actually, PHC does a cruise. And not on Lake Wobegon, either. It’s sold out for 2013.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        They advertised on air when we were listening. Very expensive though. I would rather go on a “Whadda Know” or Wait, Wait, Don’t Tell Me” tour. Now, a few hours every night for a week of Karl Kassel and Paula Poundstone might get us on a cruise boat!

  5. Boz Says:

    Having married into a maritime family (wife’s dad was chief engineer on Great Lakes ore carriers and her brother drives them thousand footers), I’ve been bellow decks to see what makes them tick. For the life of me, I can’t fathom how the fire could have so disabled most everything having to do with powering all the systems, and why repairs couldn’t be made to get the shit pumpers to function. What, no spare parts, no millwrights, electricians, or even redundant systems on board. I have a feeling even Larry, Moe, and Curly could have done better.

    • Larry T. Says:

      Dunno, these modern cruise ships look to me like hotels laid on their sides. The systems to control all that stuff have got to be complicated. I have nightmares of the Titanic variety every night when we’re on the ferry to/from Sicily, but at least with those the trip is just overnight and the captain’s not trying to show the ship off to anyone by cruising close to rocky coastlines!

    • khal spencer Says:

      I suspect the cruise ships cut corners by not staffing up with enough good engineers and seamen, and by avoiding any duplicate systems or redundancies when they can cut costs and get away with it. Those Great Lakes freighters were probably tougher ships, given what they had to deal with in those lake storms. I grew up in Buffalo and routinely saw Lakers sailing into and out of Buffalo Harbor back when we had industry there. For the longest time there was one on the rocks near Hamburg, driven onto the rocks in a storm.


      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        I grew up in Waukegan on Lake Michigan Khal, and we had those big ore (gypsum) ships coming in and out of our harbor regularly to keep our drywall factory going. Impressive sight in our small harbor. Always makes me think about Gordon Lightfoot and the Edmund Fitzgerald.
        I think you are right about the cruise ships and their crews; they have the bare minimum required by whatever convenient and cheap flag they sail under. I grew up around boats, power and sail, but I won’t get on one of those.
        Glad I flew to Vietnam though. No troop ships in 1970. Somehow I don’t think that would have been a “nice” cruise!

      • Patrick O'Grady Says:

        Not many boats in the O’Grady DNA. Dad flew multiengine craft during WWII (The Big One®) and his brother was a tail gunner in a B-29. Granda could’ve been in the IRA for all I know — he came over from County Clare via Canada.

        So I was all about the planes growing up, especially while we lived on Randolph AFB, which was a training base back in the Sixties.

        Man, you ever climb into a C-47? Those things were funky enough on the ground. Can’t believe the old man drove the fuckers around New Guinea for the duration. I’d have perished of dehydration from peeing my pants.

      • Khal Spencer Says:

        Only once, O’G, on an NROTC summer cruise when we were being flown between bases on a C-47 back circa 1975. Yes, it was small and funky. Old too. Hmmm. I guess being small, old, and funky myself these days, I better be careful of what I say.

      • Patrick O'Brien Says:

        Yea, Patrick, my Dad was also in the big one and spent time in New Guinea and other Pacifica hell holes. He flew gliders and built rough airstrips. I can’t imagine what those guys in WW II went through for us.

      • Boz Says:

        Yes, they are tough boats. The November before last, my bro-in-law sent me pictures of them handling a storm with 130 mph winds. Skipping waves with a 1000 feet of iron scared the shit out him, said he had visions of the Fitz. No thanks!

  6. Jon Paulos Says:

    I wonder where this ship was flagged. The ol’ invisible hand of the free market may have been responsible. Why are so many ocean-going vessels flagged for places like Panama? Because that darn US government insists on all these pesky regulations that drive up the cost of doing business (like training, periodic safety inspections by outside parties and the like), and Panama just wants a fee. What’s a self-respecting profit-seeking company to do?

    Having said that, my company supplies spare parts to Carnival for some of their equipment, and they’re religious about making sure the equipment they bought from us is kept in tippy-top condition, so I’m not sure what really went on either.

  7. Dale Says:

    Just talking about the Beatles, George could play guitar.

    • Patrick O'Brien Says:

      I noticed that too. He was playing some fancy stuff with good picking. I have been a beginner guitar player for 40 years. Never seem to get past the basic open chords, a few barre chords, and the campfire songs. Lots of practice would help, but the bike call louder right now. Maybe I should move to Minot, ND. Get lots of practice there I bet.

    • Patrick O'Grady Says:

      McCartney was (and is) a pretty fair bass player, too. He was always killing it in the Playboy jazz and pop poll back in the day. Can’t bear most of his music post-Lennon, though. In Lennon-McCartney you have a stellar example of an artistic team that was much, much more than the sum of its parts.

      I play a bunch of instruments, all without skill: keyboards and flute, mostly, though I dabbled with piccolo and bassoon in high school (basically your large and small flutes). Guitar I took up as well, completely without distinction. I still have the flute and a couple of pennywhistles, which mostly come out around St. Patrick’s Day.

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