satire

Signs Your Cruise Ship is actually a Pirate Ship

You may think you’ve signed on for a fantastic cruise in the Caribbean, but you may be in for the surprise of your life.

My wife and I recently booked a Caribbean cruise with Royal Caribbean and were shocked when, at the last minute, it was canceled. Whoever heard of a cruise being canceled where hundreds of thousands of dollars are at stake? In all fairness, the cruise company refunded our money along with some malarkey about renovations, but I think a whole lot more than that was going on. Just between you and me, and please don’t tell anyone this, because I don’t want it to get around, but I think it had a whole lot to do with pirates and less to do with making a ship looking good for a bunch of tourists, most of whom are half in the bag for seven straight days.

Think about it before you take another sip of your rum. Our ship was supposed to be travelling in the Caribbean. The Caribbean! The epicenter of piracy during the Golden Age of Piracy. I’ve studied this topic pretty intensely, so it’s hard to pull the wool over my eyes. Maybe an eyepatch but not wool. Let me put it this way. The spirit of Blackbeard and his kind is alive and well in the Caribbean. If you doubt that, you obviously haven’t been to a Jimmy Buffett concert or heard his song, A Pirate Looks at Forty.

At the risk of betraying my brothers under the black flag, I’m going to say no more. What I will do is give you a list of thirty signs that the next cruise ship you sign up for may not really be a cruise ship at all. You can do your homework, but sometimes that just isn’t enough. My wife and I know that firsthand.

  1. Your travel agent’s name is Black Bart Jr. or Black Sam Bellamy.
  2. Crew members refer to passengers as Scurvy Dogs.
  3. The navigator of the ship uses a treasure map instead of navigational equipment to set the ship’s course.
  4. All the crew members finish their sentences with, “Aarrrgh!”
  5. Pirates are constantly doing cannonballs in the swimming pool.
  6. Every itinerary ends up the same way. On a desert island with you and a shovel, digging for treasure while 50 pirates look on, sipping rum.
  7. Half the crew members have one leg. The other half wear an eye patch. And the other half have a hook. {And before ya go correctin’ me math, quit yer bellyachin’ because I gave ya an extra fifty percent. It’s the pirate way!)
  8. If you’re awakened every morning by the thunder of cannons, it’s a good bet you’re not on yer typical cruise ship.

 

  1. The black flag flying from the topmast is another good sign yer not gettin’ a normal cruise experience.
  2. When your ship pulls into a foreign port, instead of receiving a hearty welcome, everybody’s firing cannonballs at ya.
  3. No matter what drink you order at the bar, ye always get rum.
  4. The ship’s dress code is pirate-casual. For the uninformed of you, that’s wearing the same t-shirt you had on last month complete with stains from every dinner ya ate.
  5. Instead of presenting you with a menu, the head waiter wears a shirt with stains from all the meals of the last cruise. To order, all ya have to do is point to the appropriate glob.
  6. Your bed is a hammock stretched out next to 2,000 other hammocks.
  7. Bathroom facilities are at the very fore of the ship where a single seat with a round hole perches over the sea. Magazines are considered amenities so expect to pay extra.
  8. If you sign up for a deck activity and find yourself swabbing it, you need to have a little talk with yer travel agent.

 

  1. If ya still think yer on a pirate ship, see if ye have a Sail and Swipe card. If not, then yer going to have to pay with pieces-of-eight or doubloons. Lacking that, everything’s going to cost ya an arm or a leg.
  2. On the upside, every itinerary includes three visits to Port Royal, “the wickedest city on earth.” Tell ‘em Captain Morgan sent ya.
  3. Every night, it’s always the same movie, Pirates of the Caribbean.
  4. Normal cruise directors don’t wear a tricorn hat and wave a sword wildly at the passengers. Ya could complain, but it’s going to be a long swim back to port.
  5. Unlike real cruise ships where they’ll confiscate any rum you smuggle on board, a pirate crew will regale you as a hero.
  6. But be forewarned, mate. If you smuggle deodorant on board, expect to be clapped in chains.
  7. On a pirate ship, be prepared to swap omelets and bacon for grog and hardtack. That’s a dried piece of bread that’s had the life baked out of it. Any weevils that crawl out of it are complimentary.

 

  1. There is no art for sale on a pirate ship. But don’t be surprised if you find things in your luggage being auctioned off.
  2. Instead of attending mandatory muster where everyone is taught how to abandon ship in an emergency, passengers are taught how to dodge flying cannon balls.
  3. When you win a trivia game, you get a choice between a shot of rum and a little booty.
  4. Your beverage package consists of light rum, dark rum, and ale. In fact, it consists of anything except water. With all the disgusting things fish do in it, pirates aren’t taking any chances.
  5. There are no slot machines on board a pirate ship, but there are dice and card games run by dealers with a hook. But don’t try to cheat. The next hand that’s dealt might be yer own.
  6. Real cruise ships have deck chairs, so if you have to sit with 14 others on a Dead Man’s Chest, you’re probably not on the Celebrity or the Carnival.
  7. Finally, remember the galley doubles as the infirmary, and the cook moonlights as the ship’s doctor. And they don’t accept Blue Cross and Blue Shield.

That’s it, folks. If you’re planning a cruise in the near future. I suggest you pay close attention to this list. And if you talk to Black Bart, tell him the Uncommon Mariner sent you! Maybe I’ll be seeing ya out there on the high seas. And remember me motto: A little booty, a little rum, and me saucy wench make for a lot of fun.  Aarrrgggh!

                       Bill Hegerich

                      The Uncommon Mariner

 

What experience have you had with pirate ships or cruise ships? Go to https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2019/02/26/signs-your-cruise-ship-is-actually-a-pirate-ship/ and tell me about it.

Thirsty Pirates

“I like beer. Do you like beer? All my friends like beer. Gee! I wish I had one now.”

I can’t help but imagine Blackbeard or the crew of Calico Jack Rackham saying those words with gusto. Or Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh. He said so himself when he testified before the Senate committee recently.

I don’t think he helped his case much. When you’re pretty much fighting for your political life, how smart is it to brag about your excessive drinking habits?

I mean you’re more or less applying for one of the most important positions in government, and you don’t have the judicial smarts to tone it down? It’s more like the man was applying for a seat on the board of Anheuser-Busch who makes lots of beer, good beer. Or maybe he had a mental lapse and thought he was applying for the job of CEO of Brown-Forman, the company that makes Jack Daniels whiskey.

Pirates would surely welcome Kavanaugh into their circle. After all, what bunch of rum-guzzling, beer-swilling alcoholics wouldn’t want a Supreme Court Justice along for the ride? Pirates would probably find him quite helpful when their cases came to trial. “Charged with murder, mayhem, and robbery on the high seas? Not to worry! The judge is one of us.”

Of course, not all pirates swilled rum. In fact, they guzzled anything that had alcohol in it. Beer though did just fine. There’s one pirate, however, that was a teetotaler. That was Bartholomew Roberts. I think he probably tried to curtail his crew’s drinking, but I’m not certain he was all that successful.

Most people are surprised to learn that beer was an important part of a sailor’s diet in the 1700 and 1800’s. But there can be too much of a good thing. Because beer and ale spoiled on long voyages, rum became an important drink. When it became apparent performing one’s duties with a buzz was a risky business, Admiral Edward Vernon ordered that a sailor’s half pint of rum rations be cut with a quart of water. Because he wore a coat made of grogram, his concoction was eventually nicknamed grog.

It’s too bad Brett Kavanaugh wasn’t around a couple hundred years ago to serve in the Royal Navy. I think he would have found a home there though I think he would have enjoyed life more on a pirate ship where drinking and wenching were encouraged.

I like beer. Do you like beer? The trouble with beer or any other alcoholic drink is you’re a drunk if every night you’re having quite a few. Eventually, drinking too much is going to catch up with you whether you’re a pirate or a judge.

Speaking of judge, it’s no surprise that alcohol affects your ability to make clear judgments. That’s why it’s easy to scarf down a bag of potato chips and a plate full of sweets when you’re half in the bag despite your best intentions.

If you’re a pirate loading a cannon or a judge making life-and-death decisions, I have to wonder what faulty judgments could cost someone an eye or a hand or worse. For example, did you know that alcohol has been responsible for the demise of a lot of pirates. Jack Rackham and his crew got so drunk that they couldn’t fight when pirate hunters descended on their ship?

Want to know who defended the ship and the drunken crew who cowered below deck? Two women who people in those days believed were incapable of doing anything except looking pretty. Ann Bonny and Mary Read fought the British Navy side by side till they were so outnumbered that they were forced to surrender.

Would you be surprised if I told you before Jack Rackham was hanged, Ann Bonny reminded Jack of that night. “If ye had fought like a man, ye wouldn’t have to die like a dog.”

Beer? Rum? Or as Jimmy Buffett would say: “Tequila? Of course, I’ll have some.” He may have said it jokingly, but he would agree it’s good to know when to say when.

Ben Franklin once said, “Beer is proof that God loves us.” I guess for pirates and politicians who indulge in happy hour that meant “the more I drink, the more God must love me.” I don’t know if Judge Kavanaugh thinks like that. What I do know is he likes beer. He told us so in his own words. Several times.

John Ciardi once said, “All things in moderation. Including moderation.” So I think I’ll have a beer. If Blackbeard were here, I wouldn’t mind sharing one with him. I don’t think I’d want to have one with Brett Kavanaugh any time soon. I don’t like people who pretend they’re being honest when they’re covering up more than they’re revealing.

For example, he stated at the Senate hearing that boofed means farting when in fact it refers to anal sex. He also stated that the Devil’s Triangle was a drinking game. The truth is it refers to two men having sex with a woman. He may have written those words in his high school yearbook a long time ago, but he outright lied about their real meanings just last week before millions of people. What’s disturbing to me is that if he’s willing to lie about that, what else is he willing to lie about?

And I don’t like men who yell at women in a professional setting. Where’s the dignity and respect that’s called for? Or does that go out the window with good judgment when you have that first shot of vodka?

I like pirates. They’re a no-nonsense, genuine bunch. I like beer. But what I especially like are pirates who like beer. I’m not too keen on politicians, especially politicians who drink beer and either can’t or don’t remember to tell the truth afterwards.

Tell me what you think. Do you like beer? Would you like to share one with pirates on a crowded ship? Or would you be more comfortable sharing one with Brett Kavanaugh in a nice quiet setting?

Now that I’ve finished this blog, I think I’ll have a beer. If only I could find that bottle opener my pirate wench hid on me. Maybe it’s next to Jimmy Buffett’s long, lost shaker of salt. Come to think of it, maybe I’ll have my mermaid make me a Margarita instead. That’ll leave an extra beer for Brett Kavanaugh. Aarrgh!!!

                         Bill Hegerich

                         The Uncommon Mariner

To leave a comment, please click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2018/10/04/thirsty-pirates/  But go finish your beer first.

My Stamp of Approval

It’s amazing how many different kinds of postage stamps you can buy at the post office this time of year. There’s the Madonna and Child, Saint Nick, and a lamb proclaiming, “All is calm and bright.” Of course, there’s also one celebrating Hanukkah, another Kwanzaa, plus quite a few more. And that’s on top of some pretty amazing stamps commemorating people and events from America’s past.

One of my favorites is a black and white stamp of John Kennedy. It captures a very handsome man displaying an air of leadership and dignity, something lacking in the presidency these days. I remember when he first became president. I was only 14, but even a callow youth like me sensed the feeling of hope that pervaded the country. Anything seemed possible then, so much so that Kennedy promised the United States would put a man on the moon in a decade. He beat his own timeline.

Coming from any other politician, the prediction would have been preposterous dribble, like a slimy politician promising to build a wall to keep Mexicans out of the country. But when a man like John Kennedy shared the vision of a New Frontier, most Americans believed that it was not only possible but probable.

I don’t think we should put the picture of politicians on postage stamps today. It seems most are obnoxious and deceitful, many millionaires who buy their position with the family inheritance or with obscene amounts of money from lobbyists. And that’s a disgrace. Who wants to mail a letter with a politician’s picture on it who robs from the poor to give to the rich?

It’s not that people don’t expect you to bend the rules when you ’re president, but they do expect you to play fairly and not be mean-spirited or vengeful. Which brings me back to postage stamps and an interesting character from America’s past. Blackbeard.

It takes a real leader to handle a shipload of pirates. Imagine what Blackbeard could have accomplished as President

I can’t help but think he would have made a great president, looking great on a postage stamp. He was clever, manipulative, strong, focused, and a great motivator. If you served with him, you might not always agree with his methods or his goals, but life couldn’t have been fairer on his ship. He wouldn’t have had to tweet for you to know what he was thinking or to exert his authority.

As I mull over this whole postage stamp thing, I can’t help but think what one would look like with Blackbeard’s picture on it. He’s usually portrayed with a black, straggly beard and a full head of hair. His eyes didn’t twinkle like Santa Claus’. Rather they were dark and piercing, quick to root out malingerers.

I don’t know if Donald Trump’s likeness will ever appear on a postage stamp. One reason is just practicality. How can you get a picture of someone with all that hair into such a small space? The other reason is more ethical. Is it really a good idea to extol someone who thinks it okay to grab a woman by her genitals without even asking? I’d like to see Donald Trump do that around Blackbeard.

Another figure that deserves a place on a postage stamp is Captain William Kidd. Kidd’s gotten a pretty bad rap over the years, but many historians are revising their view of Kidd as a ruthless, blood-thirsty murderer. The fact is, when Kidd set sail from New York, he did so with the explicit approval of some very influential politicians. His fortunes turned bad when his crew grew mutinous after failing to capture any ships on a list pre-approved by the King and politicians.

Kidd struggled to control his crew, all the while attempting to satisfy the demands of his well-connected investors. If Kidd had a flaw, it was that he was naïve and trusting. After returning to the Caribbean, he discovered he was a wanted man, yet opted to willingly return to New York, certain he would find support from those who hired him.

Politicians, realizing they were about to be embarrassed, disassociated themselves from Kidd, and even went so far as to hide two tickets that would have exonerated him. Upon his arrival in New York, he was jailed and shipped to England to be tried for murder and piracy. Forbidden to present an adequate defense, he was found guilty and condemned to hang. Kidd’s picture on a postage stamp? He earned it after dealing with cutthroats at home and at sea.

And not to slight the ladies, I think Ann Bonny is another pirate who deserves to be on a postage stamp. At an age when women on ships were taboo, Ann broke the glass ceiling or at least the crow’s nest on the mainmast. It took a lot of courage for a woman to pass herself off as a man, rubbing elbows and God knows what else with a ship filled with lusty sailors. Just going to the bathroom took a lot finesse and cleverness so as not to expose her identity as well as other things.

Eventually, Bonny’s sex was discovered, but she earned the crew’s approval when she showed she could fight as well as any man. Surprisingly, Ann and her cohort Mary Read proved more valorous than the men who cowered below deck when the ship was under attack. When captured, she was tried and sentenced to death. The only reason the sentence wasn’t carried out was because she was pregnant.

Blackbeard’s flag depicts a heartless scoundrel, but he was fair to the little guy. He would disapprove of today’s politicians who steal from the poor guy to give to the wealthy.

I could suggest other pirates whose faces deserve to be on postage stamps, but I’d be happy with just these three. Like the typical politician today, they were resourceful, clever, and master manipulators. Unlike today’s politicians with their aristocratic attitudes, pirates had a strong sense of fair play and democracy. On a pirate ship, no one was privileged. Not the rich; not the well-connected; and certainly not the blood-sucking lobbyists.

The motto of pirates could be summed up in a familiar phrase: “All for one. One for all.” If Blackbeard and his ilk were alive today, they might even adopt the motto of the Carnival Cruise Line: “Fun for all, All for Fun.” Though they would probably insist on changing it to: “Rum for all. All for Rum.” Rather than argue with them, I figure why not join them.

It’s almost 4:30, and I have to close this piece. My wife needs a book of stamps at the post office. I don’t know what kind she wants, but if I had my way, I know which ones I’d buy.

                                            Bill Hegerich

                                            The Uncommon Mariner

 

To leave a comment, go to https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2017/12/09/my-stamp-of-approval/

 

Olympic Fever

Think you have what it takes to design your own pirate flag? Maybe we’ll see you in the very first Pirate Olympics.

Think you have what it takes to design your own pirate flag? Maybe we’ll see you in the very first Pirate Olympics.

Lately it seems wherever you turn, you either hear about the Rio Olympics or you see it on TV. I’m not complaining. I find it inspiring to see so many topnotch athletes performing at their best.

But did you ever wonder what it would be like if pirates held their own Olympics? I can’t help but think it would be an exciting event well worth watching.

If I was organizing the event, I would have eight categories. First, there would be the sword and cutlass events. The first part would consist of polishing and honing a sword or cutlass. (Swords are more for piercing; cutlasses are more for slashing though you can do both with either.)

Each pirate would be given a dull, rusty blade and his job would be to turn it into a thing of beauty that every other pirate would want to steal.

Since this event is in the nascent stages, I’m still working out the details like how to prevent a bunch of pirates who had too much rum to keep from cutting themselves. In the end, the sword that pirates try to steal the most gets the gold. And you know how pirates love gold.

The next event requires each pirate to draw a treasure map. You heard that X marks the spot. Can you imagine a pirate marking a hundred X’s on his map? A stolen map would be worthless to the pilferer.

And before you object to pirates stealing at the Olympics, I want to remind you that they’re pirates. They’re supposed to steal from each other. In fact, if they failed to steal anything during the events, they’d be disqualified.

Another event would require everyone to design their own pirate flag. The only stipulation is that it’s designed on cloth. One pirate new to the trade actually flew an old piece of burlap because that was all he had. As time went on he got better.

Imagine the possibilities pirates could come up with after a couple of rum and Cokes. A treasure chest on a field of pink. My grand daughter would love that. Or picture a skull and crossbones on a rainbow background. I bet that would bring a smile to the faces of a lot of men and women in the gay community. Aarrrrgh!

Pirates are often given a bad rap about their hygiene- and some might well deserve it. In this next event, pirates are given a bar of soap and required to wash up. Drop the soap, and you’re automatically disqualified. Continue reading →

Captain Billy Jacks Parrot Revolutionizes Cruise Ship Industry

JANUARY ODYSSEY116

Most of you may remember a few short weeks ago, I hosted Captain Billy Jacks Parrot, giving him the opportunity to tell you about The Bare Bones, a cruise ship he was refurbishing for those looking for a real pirate adventure.

Well, Captain Billy just returned to port late this afternoon with an update on epic changes he’s making to the whole cruising concept. You may remember the fantastic changes he’s already made to the dress code, the Sign and Steal Card, and the Liquor package.

Captain Billy tells me that on a trip to the Western Caribbean this past week, he’s made a number of other revolutionary changes, but like a pirate he was adamant about telling you first hand. So I’m turning this post over to him. Am I crazy or what? I hope he’s learned the fine line between bawdy and proper by now, but with all the wenches on board The Bare Bones, I doubt proper decorum  was foremost on his mind.

 

“Avast! Mates! I see ye be back visitin’ with me old friend, The Uncommon Mariner.  He be kind enough to let me speak with ye about a subject near and dear to me heart! And we ain’t talkin’ rum or wenches either. I be’s talkin’ about The Bare Bones. A Pirate cruise ship fer anyone lookin’ fer a rollickin’ good time. If ye got a pirate heart, me cruise ship’s the one ye want to book passage on, mate.

            One of the big changes we made this last time out was in gambling. If it’s one thing a pirate likes more than rum or a pretty wench, it’s gambling. Wanna stop a sword fight that’s going hot and heavy? Just throw a pair of dice out on deck.

            First off, we kept the slot machines, table games, and roulette. And we give ye a thousand doubloons and a hundred pieces of eight to bank roll ye. Moreover, to give ye a fair shot at winning, half our dealers are wearing two eye patches. And we don’t confine gambling to a stuffy casino either. Ye can gamble outside on any of our decks. And there’s plenty of places to sit. That’s why we call them deck chairs.

            Speaking of entertainment, this might be a good time to let ye know we’ve done away with some forms of amusement ye find on other cruise ships.  There’s no phony art auctions. Ye know what I be talkin’ about. Ye bid or buy what they call an authentic print or painting, only to find it’s a copy of a copy of an exclusive print or painting, meaning fifty million other landlubbers have had the same piece of ship hanging in their bathrooms at home fer years.

            Movies. Ye should be havin’ too much fun to even think about sitting in a dark room watchin’ movies. Why ye could be doin’ that at home. But Captain Billy has made some concessions, so ye will find movies aboard The Bare Bones. Mostly pirate movies. We’re kind of partial to them onboard our ship especially those with Jack Sparrow. No relation to Jacks Parrot, mate. But if ye want to be admitted to the theatre, ye better follow our dress code. Eye patch, tricorn hat, and plastic sword.

            After much discussion and arrrghuing , me crew decided to eliminate other forms of entertainment that were also pretty lame. Trivia. Listening to Lawrence Welk’s rendition of elevator music. Lectures on underwater basket weaving. So we now offer a whole ship load of fun seminars by experienced Corsairs. (That’s just a fancy word for pirates… we charge more when we use words like that. We also call them seminars instead of lessons for the same reason.) So here they are, mates!

            How to sharpen yer sword. How to speak Pirate. How to draw a pirate map. How to walk the gang plank. How to git yer hands on someone’s booty. How to keep someone’s hands off yer own booty. Especially important if yers is oversized. How to sing like a mermaid. How to train parrots to talk. How to roast parrots that refuse to talk. How to catch crabs. How not to catch crabs from other passengers. How to carve nautical scenes on yer wooden leg. How to stop strangers from carving nautical scenes on yer wooden leg. 100 Things ye never knew ye could do with yer hook. (Yer wench is gonna love number 69.)

            Speaking of entertainment, you’ll be glad to know the swimming pool is manned with lifeguards. That’s mainly because the bottom is lined with pieces of gold, and they ain’t takin’ their eyes off it. Except maybe to eye some of them wenches… but that’s jest to make sure they don’t need mouth to mouth respertation or whatever the hell that thing’s called when they lock lips. And if ye decide to take advantage of our pool, we got instructors who will teach ye the fine art of doing cannon balls. Cannon balls should be mandatory on all cruise ships.

            As ye can see in between wenchin’ and rummin’ me shipmates have been hard at work makin’ the Bare Bones yer ultimate cruise ship. We have several additional modifications planned when me crew and me take ’er out on the high seas this coming week. Till then me friend and compatriot The Uncommon Mariner will keep ye posted. I want to thank him fer lettin’ me apprise ye of our revolutionary updates. Smooth sailin’ out there on the High Seas!  – Captain Billy Jacks Parrot

 

                                                           Bill Hegerich

                                                  The Uncommon Mariner

 

**** The Uncommon Mariner and Captain Billy Jacks Parrot share culpability for the content of this post.

To leave a comment click on https://billhegerichsr.wordpress.com/2016/03/19/captain-billy-jacks-parrot-revolutionizes-cruise-ship-industry/