We’ve all come across them. The ingrates, the self-obsessed and the entitled. They are the bane of any holiday, but are particularly insufferable on a cruise with their demanding attitude, complete lack of time-keeping and utter disregard for anyone around them.
Now, we’re probably preaching to the converted here, but it’s always worth a good grizzle at someone else’s expense, so let us expound on a topic that we know rankles many a sea-going rigging (and, just in case you recognise yourself among this registry of reprobates, be aware that we are watching!).
Holiday-going misdemeanours are many and varied, and range from being a hog at the buffet breakfast to trying to get INTO the lift before anyone else gets OUT (what are people thinking? That you will suddenly dematerialise so that they can take their appointed place in the elevator? It is not only bad manners it is downright imbecilic).
They are irritants that shouldn’t exist, in a balanced world, to add to our everyday angst. On a ship, these vacation violations are exacerbated and magnified, because you know with your roving home for the next week or so that you are likely to bump into the same miscreant again (and again).
You can usually spot them on embarkation day. They are the ones that simply look for the shortest queue (or, preferably, an unoccupied kiosk) at the A-Z array of sign-in-by-name desks and then pretend that they hadn’t noticed the correspondent letter, but-can’t-the-agent-just-check-them-in-there as it is SO much more convenient than having to wait in line with everyone else.
They often get away with it, too, as the check-in agent is usually too overcome by their utter gall to tell them to sod off to the back of the queue (if you’ll pardon their French).
These objects of our disaffection are also conspicuous for their need to have everything carried for them. “Footman!” they seem to cry with every supercilious bone in their posture, “Come hither and tote my bags like you’re supposed to.” Unless they are in one of the top suites on board, this kind of carry-on will usually (and rightfully) be ignored.
Once on board, they are easy to spot. They don’t take their turn at the buffet; they don’t queue up at the excursion desk; and they don’t wait for the Maitre D’ to direct them to their appointed table in the dining room. They simply sweep in and expect to be waited on there and then. The staff will recognise their type immediately. The senior ones will attempt with every fibre of their being to look the other way, so as to avoid having to deal with them altogether. The junior staff will, sadly, be bent to the malefactors’ will.
It doesn’t stop at the front desk, either. Oh no. Our Least Favourite Cruisers will crop up at regular intervals and continue to be the bane of the lives of the crew in their me-first demeanour. Happily, they can be ignored for much of the time by their fellow cruisers, the majority of whom will stick to the usual all-British etiquette of waiting their proper turn and being patient restaurant-goers.
That doesn’t mean there aren’t other sea-going scoundrels, though. There are also the Notable Lounger Hogs. You know, those ne’er-do-wells who think it’s de rigueur to rise at 7am, place their towels on the (optimum) sun-lounger of their choice, then retire to their cabin, to reappear around mid-day with a stifled yawn and the effrontery to believe the chair is still theirs.
Happily, many cruise lines are getting wise to this bit of maritime nefariousness, and there is often a deck hand on duty these days to observe any chairs that have been ‘staked out’ in this manner and remove the offending towels if nobody is there to lay on them. We say a big ‘Hurrah!’ for those enlightened lines (along with a resounding ‘Yah, boo, sucks!’ to those passengers who still think it’s a good idea to try to corner a lounger in this way).
As a quick aside, there is also a sub-section of sun-lounger mischief-makers, those who insist on maneuvering their chairs to try to gain extra space around them. Tenny’s mother once almost caused a major diplomatic incident on such an occasion with a passenger of the German persuasion, who insisted on pushing an adjacent lounger away from hers, banging it into Mrs Tenny’s chair. The hapless lounger was ‘banged back’ with interest, and a bit of push and shove ensued, only to be alleviated by the timely arrival of a couple of cocktails. No-one ever wants to spill their umbrella drink, now do they?
Occasionally our nautical wrath will also fall on those parents who believe a cruise is the opportunity to let their offspring run unchecked, galloping down the corridors at 11 o’clock at night, running amok in the lifts (pressing every button in sight, so that when you enter on Deck 11, the elevator will call at every single deck going down), and leaping around in the hot tubs when all self-respecting ankle-biters should be safely ensconced in the kids club.
It is simply NOT the crew’s responsibility to baby-sit your unruly progeny, don’cha know?
Finally, there is one last category of cruise criminal who makes all the others pale into insignificance with their utter conceit and self-absorption. You have probably seen them from your perfect perch at the upper-deck cocktail bar, about five minutes to sailaway, while you are surveying the ship’s imminent departure.
There, in the distance, are two slightly frantic figures, bags in hand, breaking into a breathless trot and waving wildly at the ship as the gangway is prepared for removal. You can almost hear the indrawn breath from the captain on the bridge as he has to delay his departure arrangements and give the order for the gangway to be replaced.
The two late-comers – no doubt having been blissfully ignorant of the lateness of the hour – have succeeded in inconveniencing absolutely everyone, and they rarely have the good grace to be suitably embarrassed by their maritime faux pas.
The other side of the coin is when the ship HAS already pulled away from the dock when the tardy twosome come into view and are left bereft on an empty quay. THAT is the moment to really relish your drink and to give them a cheery wave in return. That’ll learn ’em, you think to yourself. And so say all of us!