When Aunt Sarah visits from the United States, she talks about the last pleasure cruise she went on. My wife, Josie, is convinced it would be a lot of fun for the two of us to go on one sometime in the future.
To paraphrase a popular idiom, if I never ride on any kind of ship again, it will be too soon. You see, I didn’t have a choice back in the 1980s. I had to ride on Navy ships because I was in the Marine Corps.
Commonly called a WestPac cruise, it’s what the Marines call a “float”. I only went on one and it was in 1983. We were on our next-to-last port of call when we were deployed to the Mediterranean Sea. It was right after the barracks bombings in Beirut.
We sat off the coast of Lebanon for a few weeks. I don’t remember how long it was but I think it was a month. The float was supposed to end in October but it ended in November. The one thing I remember clearly is that we ran out of everything to drink except water and coffee. That’s when I learned to drink black coffee because we didn’t have sugar or creamers either.
A Navy ship isn’t built for anything close to pleasure. I won’t bother to describe the ship I was on. It was the USS Tarawa, decommissioned in 2009.
My memory is fuzzy about dates, even years. I think my second time on a Navy ship was in 1989 but I can’t be sure. So many things happen in a given year while in the military that the days and months seem to blend in with each other.
We took the USS Nassau (decommissioned in 2011) from Morehead City, North Carolina to Vieques, Puerto Rico for a military operation. I had nothing to do with the operation, other than being the sergeant of the guard every night we were there.
The USS Nassau is the same class of Navy ship as the USS Tarawa, an LHA. LHA stands for landing helicopter assault. They obviously had helicopters on the flight deck but I remember the USS Tarawa having harriers as well.
Our only port of call was at Fort Lauderdale, Florida on the way back and it was only for a couple of days.
Other than being a ship that rides on the ocean, that is. I understand why some people like taking a pleasure cruise now and then. I can’t wrap my head around voluntarily being confined to a cruise ship for any length of time, regardless of Josie’s wishes.
There are a lot of cruise ships in various countries. There’s at least one in the Philippines (Star Cruises). If Josie wants to go on a pleasure cruise anywhere, she can go with someone else.
The only kind of pleasure cruise I would like to go on involves a different kind of ship, an airship. I don’t care what people call it (dirigible, blimp, Zeppelin or airship) as long as there’s a gondola hanging below it capable of carrying passengers.
I would rather ride an airship than an airline jet. The passenger spaces on the airlines are getting more cramped all the time. I can’t sleep on a long flight as it is and they want to squeeze every dollar out of those planes that they can.
A curmudgeon is a a bad-tempered, difficult, cantankerous person. I do get bad-tempered at times, but only when someone pushes me. I’m not really a difficult person unless you try to get me to do something I don’t want to do.
I will usually try something that’s supposed to be fun at least once. A pleasure cruise isn’t one of those things. I’m not fond of the ocean at all and I only recently started going to local beaches with Josie.
By: RT Cunningham
June 16, 2017
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