My dad cruises all the time. According to him, it’s the only way to travel, but as I waited in line to check in, I couldn’t imagine him there. I was having trouble imagining me in this line. I’ve got a strong WT streak in me (white trash for the uninitiated). I’ll stay at Motel 6, and a Denny’s grilled cheese always hits the spot, but I don’t camp out at The Dollar Tree for four days. It appeared the rock-bottom fare on the cruise line I’ll call Circus was a siren song to the loud, scantily clad, heavily rouged, blowing through their unemployment benefits crowd—a booze cruise for the 40-oz. set.
The ship, let’s call it the Inventiveness, runs 3- and 4-day cruises from Southern California to Mexico. She sails up and down the coast of California and Mexico . . . never anywhere else. She doesn’t peel off and head to Europe or even the Bahamas. She just ferries boatload after boatload of drunk fast-food workers in for a good time Fresno with décor lifted from the Vegas Tropicana.
My good friend Kate and I have been traveling together since we found a snake in the pit toilet at church camp. She’d been on this cruise before, years before, and was designated a VIP, entitling her to one free 33-oz. bottle of water. You connoisseurs may recognize this size as “the more than you can drink in one sitting.” We didn’t let the snake stop us in 1979, and we weren’t going to let the unwashed masses stop us this time.
Cruise we did. We got the fruity drink in the cup shaped like a fish whose colors exactly matched my cruisewear top I lovingly call my Boca Raton wear. We played the heck out of bingo and sang along at the piano bar, which involved a great many keys in each and every song. We did skip the “art” sale. I was afraid that after a few days on board a Velvet Elvis above my fireplace would seem just the ticket. A narrow miss.
But on our last day aboard, Kate went prospecting and stumbled on the Serenity deck—so serene that at first we feared it was only for VIPs—read Kate. But no. It was for all of us. Complete with special yellow towels and situated at the back of the boat, we scored front row seats with only our toes between us and a view of the wide-open water. There we camped, outlasting three rounds of bachelorette parties until our stomachs called us to dinner and the Kathy Lee Gifford wine, Gifft. If you didn’t know that existed, you’ve been hanging out at all the right places.
The Gifft was flowing at the Illusions Lounge that last night. If you’re a fan of people watching, a night at the Illusions Lounge will require your prescription to be adjusted. It starts out as dancin’ to the oldies and at 10 p.m. moves into “I can twerk better than you in an outfit that would get me arrested in thirty-seven states” club. Our evening culminated in listening to a lover’s quarrel coming from the stateroom across the hall in between the slamming door and unique combinations of the seven dirty words, which I desperately tried to drown out with a rerun of The Love Boat but to no avail.
It was a cruise for the ages. A hearty thank-you to Circus Cruise Line for opening my eyes to a great many things I once believed only existed on TV—or maybe on Hollywood & Vine. I do want to be clear, though, I’m not saying don’t go on a Circus cruise. Just make sure you have all your shots. The Inventiveness in all her tarted-up glory is waiting for you.