04/07/2014...2:36 pm

What time is the midnight buffet? and other onboard classics

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Cruise Critic member GHstudio makes an acute observation on the message boards this week: “Somehow, when people get on a ship on a cruise vacation, the most logical people just turn off their brain.”

And when the brain is left on the quayside, out come the questions and comments.

Not just the old classics like ‘Do the crew sleep on board?’ and ‘What time is the midnight buffet?’ but new, even more ridiculous offerings.

For example, overheard by member Timbo89 on a bus trip in the mountains of Norway: “I don’t like going uphill on a bus. I hope it isn’t uphill on the way back.” And on the same tour, in a case of stating the completely obvious, “There’s snow up there. It must be cold.”

Speaking of cold, some cruisers reckon there must be an army of elves hard at work in Alaska. Member TheMediaman remembers: “On a Tracy Arm Fjord excursion the deckhand told me that he had been asked ‘How often do they wash the glaciers?’ Unbelievably, he was asked this more than once.”

Away from familiar waters, there’s the minefield of thoughtless foreigners to negotiate. Member Muddypuddles overheard on a shore excursion in Turkey: “Why are all the road signs in a foreign language? How am I supposed to know where I am?”

Not to mention the horrors of culture shock. Member Fixdrup was drinking in a local bar on a port call in Cozumel and recalls: “After a woman receives her Pina Colada, she asks the bartender ‘This is made with American ice?’ To which the bartender replies, ‘Yes ma’am, we have it shipped in daily!’”

And finally, one of my own memorable moments of philistine travelling companions. Sitting in St Mark’s Basilica in Venice, after hours, in near-darkness, on an exclusive visit. One by one, the lights come on, illuminating the interior one of Europe’s most beautiful and famous cathedrals. Awed silence.

A voice booms out: “Why are we here?”

Have you overheard any cruising ‘specials’? Let us know.

–Sue Bryant

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Never mind wondering what NOT to say, here’s what’s not to do onboard!


  • Nancy Peterson

    Actually, the “midnight buffet” is nowadays at 11:00 or 11:30 and called evening snack. The ships serm to be doing away with the big extravaganzas.

  • A couple years ago, on the ms Westerdam, we were in one of the starboard glass elevators (on the side of the ship). As the doors were beginning to close, a little old lady rushed up and stopped the doors. With a panicked look on her face, she asked, “Does this elevator go to the front of the boat?”

    Without hesitation, pointing to one of the atrium interior elevators, I calmly replied, “No dear. you want that one over there.”

    She thanked me and tottered off . . .

    The laughter in our elevator, once the doors closed, was memorable!

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