This installment is more directed at my future husbands than anyone else.
Honey, Baby, Honey-Baby, Sugar Bear, Ray: don’t take me on a cruise.
To get from Finland to Sweden, I thought I’d take one of those party cruises from Helsinki to Stockholm.
I mean, why not? It’d take care of my transportation and accommodation pretty affordably between two expensive countries. Plus, it’d be a new experience. I’ve roadtripped, bussed, trained, ferried, flown, and puddle-jumped, but never been on a cruise. Cruise is always italicized in my mind because it’s on the list of things that my brain classifies as fancy, regardless of whether or not they are actually fancy. See also: liquid hand soap, loofah, underwear sets, jacuzzi, stockings, bucket seats, limited edition, suite, chrysanthemums (instead of just “mums”), braised anything, and filigree.
The line I picked was more popular with pensioners and families than excitable young people like myself, which suited me fine because it was cheaper and I had no intentions of doing X on a floating rave like it was the Nineties or something. I am still confident in my choice because it wound up being the Moomins’ cruise line of choice.
I arrived an hour early for boarding, which was spent refusing to make eye contact with any passengers in case they wound up being my bunkmate later on.
Once it was time for boarding and I muscled my way on, I was a little blown away.
It was a floating hotel. I was on a floating hotel. Floating. Hotel.
I went in search of my room, where I would most certainly perish due to my own fabulousness. They would find my body gently rocking to the rhythm of the waves and make out the faintest trace of a smile on my face, which would be lit only by the starlight filtering through my round window.
Then again, perhaps not.
My room (not pictured because the only light source was the bathroom) was cool. It had the bed I claimed for myself and a kind of Murphy bed bunk for my roommate who never showed up. They were presumably eaten by the schoolgirl-demon who followed me through the labyrinthine sub-sub-deck until I lost her behind an arguing family. From there, I headed back up to do some exploring. I don’t know how everyone on the ship managed to get drunk and aggressive in the hour between my boarding and exploration, but don’t talk to me about fear until you’ve been lunged at by a grandmother in a feather boa who doesn’t like the looks of you.
Thus concludes our tour. There was also a pool area in what looked like a converted greenhouse, a club with no apparent entrance, a game room, and a few restaurants and shops. I also took a lot of pictures of the water and asked myself, “How cold is that really? Not really all that cold, right?”
Now, it does seem like I’m really preoccupied with a tragedy occurring, but hear me out. The Costa Concordia disaster was just months before, and I was damn sure that this water was way less friendly. And then there’s the matter of that sub-sub-deck I mentioned, so named because my sleeping quarters were two levels below where the cars were stowed. I’ve seen Titanic. I know what happens to the poor people of Irish descent when the water comes in.
Still, having gotten to know the ship, I felt comfortable going back down to my room to relax a bit. Bad idea. Living the sub-sub-deck life means that you can hear all of the mechanical groans and bangs of the ship. This is okay if you’re not reading a book about demonic possession and mental health alone in a room with no light. An overactive imagination is pretty key to this scenario as well. After about a half hour, I grabbed my wallet and some letter-writing materials to look less weird, and headed back up.
Topside, I rustled up a plate of IKEA-grade meatballs and availed myself of the bottomless and totally unsupervised citrus-malt-drink dispenser. I also pretended to be interested in tax-free goodies on my way to figuring out how to sneak down and swipe breakfast foods in the morning. Because marine law and weak piracy are the same in my mind. After my successful recon, I thought I’d reward myself with a drink and the live music promised at the pub. Terrible idea. The pub was populated entirely with suspected serial killers, aggressive grandmothers, and out-of-place metalheads. The live music was a young man doing super genuine and soulful covers of pop songs. Future generations will look to the letter I composed to Éadaoín during this experience and wonder if I was socialized at all as a child.
In the end, the ship stayed afloat, I wasn’t knifed or eaten, my ill-gotten food lasted me a few meals, and I made to Sweden. But cruises are way off my potential honeymoon options.