The bars on cruise ships open at 8 a.m. Perfect, because I like to get all my drinking done by dinner time. If you time it right you can even sleep through your hangover. Cruise bartenders are always happy to see you no matter what time you belly up, too, unlike the surly flight attendant who beamed steaming hate vibes at your face for ordering a bloody mary on the flight over.
For some parents of small children, this is important. It’s probably why new parents hardly drink. I myself didn’t drink for five years after my daughter was born because I was terrified she’d set herself on fire by accident somehow and I’d end on Cops, drunk, slurring: “There’s my baby bleeding at the bottom of the staircase.” But a cruise ship is a giant floating booze bucket attached to water park complete with camp counselors who take care of your kids all day long. You hardly have to lay eyes on them. It’s heaven.
True, tons of people have caught Legionnaires’ Disease (or whatever) due to unsanitary issues on cruise ships, but those days are in the past. These days it is actually someone’s job to hose you down with sanitary solution before you even enter the dining room. The food is two notches above cafeteria fare, but there’s tons of it and, again, it’s free, leaving you more money to spend on more important things, like cocktails.
I’m not talking about the people. No, the other passengers are likely going to be a giant gaggle of Walmart rejects. I’m talking about the ocean. Just grab a Mai Tai, turn your lounge chair to face the horizon, put in your earphones and don’t get up unless someone shakes you by the shoulders to tell you the ship has docked.
Actually, the arrival and check-in process can be like spending eternity inside Satan’s anus. But once you get past the line, all you have to do is drop your suitcases off in your cabin and never look at them again for the next seven days. From that point on the most energy you’ll expend will be in avoiding the costly port excursions no matter how hard the cruise director tries to scare you with stories of that couple who woke up tattooed and pantless because they chose a cheaper “uncertified” tour excursion at dockside. (Tip: You definitely want the cheaper uncertified tour excursion at dockside.)
Time spent at the ports is minimal and overrated. In the Caribbean, for example, all the ports look exactly the same with the exact same T-shirt shops and overpriced ointment vendors. I’ve never spent a night in Cancun, for example, because I once made a port pit stop there and got a preview of what a total toilet the place is. Imagine the money I saved by not falling for those budget fares the airlines routinely offer to trick people into going there.
Hollis Gillespie writes a weekly travel column for Paste. She is a writing instructor, travel expert and author of We Will be Crashing Shortly, coming out in June. Follow her on Twitter.