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One more cruise post. I promise this is it.

Dear Royal Caribbean:

My family and I are veteran cruisers, yet our vacation this month was our first foray into the Royal Caribbean world. We won’t be back.

Here’s why:

Oasis of the Seas is a massive boat that holds about 6,200 passengers. We paid much more than we would have paid on our go-to line, Carnival, chiefly because there was more to do on Oasis of the Seas (a rock-climbing wall!).

However, that makes no difference if the activities aren’t open on a regular basis.

But that wasn’t the only issue. I have comments/suggestions, if you want to read them:

1. The comedy club only holds about 120. That means only about 2 percent of the people on board can see a show. That’s a problem.

2. With the exception of the cabin stewards and the buffet and some dining room staff, the staff are unpleasant, unfriendly people. Either hire people who can be friendly despite the crappy hours they work, or give them better schedules so they don’t become crabby.

3. Fix the microphones in the Opal Theater. The orchestra overpowers the singers at every show.

4. If a party of 11 calls a year in advance, they should be able to sit together at dinner.

5. Accuracy counts in your description of excursions. If you show a water slide in the image of the water park excursion, the slide should be included in the water park excursion. If you say you will be going to a reef and that reef no longer exists thanks to a hurricane, then you need to remove that part of the description and drop the price.

6. Please put chairs and tables along the sides of the pool for nonsmoking adults who want to get together to play Uno. The smokers had the best setup: alcoves with plenty of tables and chairs.

7. Don’t accidentally put salt instead of sugar in the meringue on the first day. That puts people off the desserts for the rest of the time.

8. If you go to the trouble of having an “authentic” British pub, then have the decency to have Guinness on tap. Do not serve it in a can.

9. If you want to entice people to come to the spa, locate it near a window. No one wants to spend money for the steam rooms/hot seats if they are going to be staring at wood paneling. Also, train your masseuses to give an actual massage. If I want to have someone just pat me a few times on the back, I’ll hire one of my kids (and it will only cost me permission to buy a Fortnite battle pass.)

10. If you say you are going to have a volleyball tournament, then you need to have that volleyball tournament. Some people (Not naming any names, Patrick) plan their whole day around it. Don’t make people have to get loud on vacation.

 

11. Please require hairnets or hats for all those who handle food. There were too many hairs in the buffet to count. (And that’s just gross.)

The moral of the story is this: Bigger is not always better.

Sorry, Royal family.

Calling Carnival for next year’s trip,
Beth

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Dear Atlanta Grilled Cheese Festival Organizers:

I wanted to like your festival. Heck, I wanted to LOVE it. Grilled cheese and beer — what’s not to love?

Well …

Here’s a short list:

1. The ticket price
Tickets were $30 plus service fees, making them $35.16. Festival entry, three samples, admittance to the “beer garden,” and live music were included in the price. Still seems a bit steep.

2. The samples
This is more my fault than yours, but I thought that with a ticket price that high, samples would be generous. At least a sandwich or half a sandwich. Nope, a quarter, if that. So 3/4 of a sandwich was included in the price. Yes, they were yummy, but …

3. The “beer garden”
That lofty-sounding moniker turned out to be one tent with about seven kinds of beer in cans: two craft and five crap. Some were not even cold. And they cost $7.

4. Live music
It was Christian music.

5. The heat
Brookhaven Park might as well have been the surface of the sun. Very little shade, 90+ degrees. Within five minutes, I’m sure that every single person in attendance had a steaming undercarriage. This event was supposed to be in April, which would have been much better. Can I suggest moving it to November or December? Or even an Oktoberfest event would be good. No one likes being hot while eating hot cheese.

This is about the extent of the festival. Disappointing.

6. The selection
When you said there was an “amateur division” for voting purposes, I naturally assumed there would be a medley of vendors. There was one amateur entry. One.

The professional vendors almost made up for the lack of amateurs. Just look at this menu board:

The “Hot Mess” was delicious. However, my favorite was the “Sour D” at a different place:

Garlic buttered sourdough toast with American cheese, avocado and bacon. Yes, please.

Anyway, if this is the way it is going to be next year, you are going to have to lower your ticket price. This was, at most, a $10 experience.

Now, if you want to add full-size sandwiches, beer samples and an indoor location in the summer, that’s different.

Yours in love of cheese,
Beth

Dear Cruise Buffet Patrons:

Unlike most people apparently, I do not go on a cruise to eat. I go on a cruise to turn off my phone without guilt and spend time reading magazines and playing Uno with friends and family.

Some of you live for the food. That is clear from your behavior during the times I did visit the buffet for sustenance.

Unfortunately, you left your manners back in port (if you had them to begin with).

Let me offer a refresher on proper buffet behavior:

  • DO wear shoes. Yes, this goes for your kids too.
  • DO pull up your pants. Ass crack is not appetizing.
  • DO take advantage of the hand sanitizer at the door. No one wants your germs anywhere near the food.
  • DO understand that there is enough food for everyone. I guarantee it. No need to shove. For example, just look at this mound of bacon:

At least one pig was more than harmed in the making of this pork pile.

  • DO say “thank you” if someone hands you the bacon tongs. DO NOT be a jerk.
  • DO say excuse me if your belly nearly knocks over a child. It’s just the right thing to do.
  • DO be nice to the wait staff. They work 10 hours a day for seven months with few breaks.
  • DO take small portions of the things you want to try. The best thing about a buffet is that you can go back for more if you are still hungry. Otherwise, you are throwing away good food.

    So much food goes to waste on a cruise.

  • DO chew with your mouth closed. You should have learned this by now.
  • DO NOT, under any circumstances, start talking if you have food in your mouth. Please.
  • DO NOT eat your steak with one hand while you walk around the buffet area with your plate in the other. (True story.) It’s shocking I would have to remind you that good manners dictate that steak is to be eaten at the table with a knife and fork.
  • Really, DO NOT eat anything off your plate or the buffet in the buffet area.

To be honest, this list goes for all buffets everywhere – not just on a cruise. If necessary, print this list for future reference. Your fellow diners will thank you.

Sincerely supportive of sneezeguards,
Beth

 

Dear Readers:

Every year, we go on a weeklong cruise with friends.* Four different families are involved, but not all families go every year. This year, three families spent a week on the Royal Caribbean Oasis of the Seas. There were 11 of us: six adults and five kids.

Families present:
Patrick, Petra, Ryder (13), Mia (9)
Edgar (aka Eggy), Sophia, Ava (9)
Eddie, me, Dominic (13), Gideon (12)

Here is the week in quotes (all accurate, I swear):

DAY ONE: Port Canaveral
Setting: Four adults and four children are walking in a single-file line down the narrow stateroom hallway on Deck 12 to make way for an old lady on a scooter.
Patrick: “Excuse us.”
Hag: “It’s too late for that now.”
(Note: Were we supposed to spring to the ceiling like spider people to make more room?)

 

DAY TWO: At sea
Setting: Breakfast at Johnny Rockets
Server to Eggy: “You want omelet?”
Eggy: “Sure.”
Server: “Hamchee?”
Eggy: “Hamchee?”
Server: “Hamchee omelet. You can have ham and chee. Or plain ham with chee. Or a little chee with some ham. Ham and chee.”

Setting: One of the many pool areas on Deck 15
Patrick to me as I’m peacefully sipping a fruity drink: “You paid $12.95 for that?”
Me: “Yes, but there is a souvenir glass!”

Setting: Same place, but about 10 minutes later
Server to me: “You want another one?”
Me: “Yes, please.”
Server, holding up rum bottle: “With medication?”
Me: “Lord, yes.”

 

DAY THREE: At sea
Setting: Outside Patrick/Petra’s cabin as we are getting ready to go to lunch
Ryder: Gideon and I just heard a guy knock on the door like this: [Ryder says “Room Service, Room Service” while rhythm knocking on the door]
Gideon and Dominic start doing two different dances from Fortnite: Orange Justice (Dominic) and the Floss (Gideon) while chanting/singing, “Room Service, Room Service.” This becomes a refrain for all of us the rest of the week.

Setting: The first formal night
Angry old guy walking down hallway: “I’m not dressing up for nobody.”

 

DAY FOUR: Philipsburg, St. Maarten
Setting: Our cabin where a medley of children and adults are playing Uno. Dominic is gnawing on candy that just appeared in the room.
Me to Dominic: “Who bought that candy?”
Patrick: “I think Petra did.”
Me to Dominic: “Of course. You never use your money to buy anything.”
Dominic: “I would if you’d let me access my funds.”

DAY FIVE: San Juan, Puerto Rico
Setting: Breakfast at the Windjammer buffet
Me to Sophia: “I realized I didn’t bring enough pants. I guess I’ll just be Pooh-ing it up the rest of the trip.”

Setting: Still breakfast
Server to all: “You want sticky bun?”
All (with variation): “No, thanks.”
Ryder and Gideon using the “Room Service” rhythm after the server leaves: “Sticky Bun, Sticky Bun!”

Setting: Deck chairs near sports pool area after we leave San Juan
Patrick to me: “You aren’t getting a drink?”
Me: “No, it’s $12.95, and there’s not even a souvenir glass.”
(Note: What a difference a few days makes.)

Setting: Evening at the lobster dinner
Patrick to all: “Should we meet later at the Windjammer? The ass jammer?”
Me, after misunderstanding Patrick: “The ass chamber?”

 

DAY SIX: Labadee, Haiti
Setting: Beach after the water park where we were not allowed to bring hats, sunglasses, coverups or a magic cave in which to hide
Patrick to me: “You look a little lobster-y.”
Petra to me, five minutes later: “Uh oh, you got some color.”

Setting: Dazzles bar where the six adults are playing Joking Hazard
Petra to all: “There’s not enough dick talk in here. We should create our own rude game.”

 

DAY SEVEN: At sea
Setting: Breakfast at the newly christened Ass Chamber buffet
Eddie to no one in particular: “I’m getting into the wine at 2 today.”

Setting: Low-stakes blackjack table at the casino
Me to Eggy and Patrick: “Do you want me to get out [of my seat] so you can play?”
Patrick**: You play your game, girlie.

 

DAY EIGHT: Back in port
Setting: The pool at the hotel where we had to stay over before going home
Dominic to Eddie and me: “I’m not going in the lazy river anymore.”
Me: “Why?”
Dominic: “Some kid peed.”
Me: “How do you know?”
Dominic: “You don’t just go up to your sister and say ‘I just peed’ if you didn’t pee.”

More cruise posts to follow, including one about the buffet. (I know you can’t wait!)

Love,
Beth

* Luckily I had paid for this when we were flush — long before our Savannah house sat on the market (and sat and sat and sat). (I haven’t written about that because it is still too painful. Not at the funny point yet.)

** There’s so much from Pat here. It’s because A) he’s funny and B) we are the two in the group who love to play games, so we are together more than most. Most of the others like to work out. Shudder.

Dear City of Brookhaven Solicitor:

Despite the fact that I frequently flout the rules at the apartment complex pool, I am (generally) a law-abiding citizen. When I visited the Brookhaven Municipal Court yesterday to contest a parking ticket, I was reminded that many people are not.

I used to cover the cop and court system when I was a TV news reporter. Yesterday’s visit made me miss those days. Ah, the sordid lives of others are a nosy person’s catnip.

DUI? Check.
No proof of insurance? Check and check.
Driving without a valid license? Check, check and check.
Revocation of probation? Check, check, check and check.

One dude had been cited for running from the cops on two different occasions. He conveniently forgot about that second time. And that his girlfriend had been the one to call the cops on him.

Another had so many moving violations he had to be on house arrest for 90 days.

I counted more than $5,000 in fines from just five people.

How do people get themselves in these situations?

Maybe they were on Ambien.

I was almost embarrassed that I was just there to whine about a parking ticket — a ticket you dismissed. So thanks for that.

Anyway, it’s good to have a reminder that things can always be worse.

Lovely to meet you, but I hope I won’t see you again.
Beth

Dear Apartment Complex Rule Makers:

I received your email (screenshot above) in preparation for Memorial Day weekend. While I appreciate the effort, we need to talk about a couple of these rules:

1.) In order for all residents to have a fair chance to enjoy the pool there is a 2 guest maximum per household. As an example, if your lease agreement includes a total of three leaseholders/occupants, the maximum number of people you are allowed to have at the pool would be 5. This includes your two guests.
I feel like this is the Whole Foods rule. I’m OK with that, but how are you going to check?

2.) When using the amenities all guests must be accompanied by the leaseholder they are visiting.
Even the bathroom? No. Not happening.

3.) Children must be supervised and accompanied by an adult leaseholder when using the pool.
Great idea. Can you also put a noise and/or whine limit on said children? Case in point, this little bastard who screamed bloody murder every time his brother squirted him:

5.) Alcoholic Beverages are not allowed at the pool.
Imma let you finish but
Nevermind. I won’t. What good is having a pool if you can’t have adult beverages around it?

7.) No Horseplay.
I need a definition. Does whacking a friend with a pool noodle count? (Asking for a friend. [A friend who is really my youngest son.]) What about a random dad taking all the kids for a ride on his back? You are going to have to be specific.

This is supposedly the dad of one of our kids’ friends. I don’t know. He could have been the complex pedophile. Were my kids happy? Yes. I was there just in case. Shut up.

8.) No Solo Bathing
What does this mean? I can’t come to the pool by myself? F that. I dare you to say something to me. I’ll sling a nonalcoholic beverage at you. (Or does it mean not washing your solo cup in the pool? Or that Han Solo can’t come over?)

10.) ENJOY!
How is this possible when you hit us with the rules above. Please.

Also, where is the no-doob rule that is clearly needed?

And what about rules for music?

And a loud talker rule?

This guy had a story for everything. No one could top his exploits.

You get an A for effort, but a C- for execution.

Bah.

I’m still going, though. I have stories to write.

See you soon!
Beth

Dear William Shakespeare:

May I call you Wills (like a famous best man)? I feel like I’ve gotten to know you better over the past few days. (And you have a beard, which I like.)

My university has a special week-long “school” for professors to do a deep dive into a text to help us better teach it to students. I signed up for “Othello,” as it is even more relevant today (and I hadn’t read it since I was at this university the first time as a student). (Best part: Watching the Mekhi Phifer/Julia Stiles/Josh Hartnett movie version as homework.)

Anyway, you wrote certain lines in your other plays that people really love and quote all the time. Yet I found some in “Othello” that I’m going to start using regularly:

“Being full of supper and distempering draughts, upon malicious bravery dost thou come to start my quiet?”

I plan to use Brabantio’s line (Act 1, Scene 1) the next time Darryl rings the doorbell after 9 p.m.

“O, gentle lady, do not put me to’t, for I am nothing if not critical.”

I’ll channel Iago (Act 2, Scene 1) with Miles’ mom at the pool this weekend.

“I have drunk but one cup tonight, and that was craftily qualified too, and behold what innovation it makes here!”

Cassio knows a good drinking line when he speaks it (Act 2, Scene 3). As do I. Speaking of drinking …

“I learned it in England, where indeed they are most potent in potting.”

Indeed. Iago speaks the truth (Act 2, Scene 3) about folks drinking in a big way.

“Ha, I like not that.”

Iago delivers a line (Act 3, Scene 3) that is perfect for a variety of occasions.

So thanks for putting words in my mouth. It may have been hard to be the bard, but your efforts still resonate more than 400 years later.

Yours in all kindness,
Beth