My Week 116: Holland America’s Eurodam, Mishima is Pissed, I’ve Got A Little List

Cruising on Holland America’s Eurodam

Well, if you looked up “weary traveller” in the dictionary, you would see my sunburned face and crazy hair, after the night I just spent trying to get home from the cruise I was on with my parents and my aunt, thanks to Delta Airlines, who have to be one of the most incompetent and weird airlines I’ve ever flown on. After a comedy of errors involving plane delays, transfers, flights into cities across America trying to get back to Canada during a snowstorm, lost luggage, closed border bridges, and freezing rain, I finally made it back home to the loving arms of my family (most of them), only to be greeted with this:

Mishima: You’re back. What the f*ck was THAT?
Me: Sigh. You’re mad about last week’s blog. I TOLD Ken to include you. This is NOT my fault.
Mishima: I am the linchpin that keeps this motley platoon together, and no one wants to get MY perspective on anything?! This is as bad as the day I said we should “go over the top” but nobody listened, and we were stuck in a trench for 3 weeks.
Me: Um…that’s not ringing any bells.
Mishima: Lest we forget, baby—lest we forget.
Me: You’ve completely lost me, which is not surprising. Anyway, I’m sorry about the blog, but it wasn’t my fault. I brought you back this cool seashell for your tank though.
Mishima: Is there a tiny mermaid trapped within it, and when I rub the shell, she’ll grant me three wishes?
Me: No. It’s just a seashell.
Mishima: You disappoint me once again, woman. And I’ll bet you can guess what the first wish would have been.
Me: So many options…

But aside from Mishima’s disgruntlement, I was glad to be home. Not that the cruise wasn’t great, because it was. In fact, here are the reasons why I would highly recommend Holland America:

The staff: If you’ve ever felt Downton Abbey-ish, and wished for the more simple days when people treated you like royalty for absolutely no reason, you’ve come to the right place. I was called “Milady”. Every f*cking day. Like, “Would Milady like more wine?” Um, yes. Obviously (and by the third day they stopped asking and just poured it). The general staff on this boat were not only adorable, but they were the nicest people on the planet. The majority of them came from either the Philippines or Indonesia, and I don’t know whether they actually liked us or not, but they always acted like they did. I’ve never seen a more cheerful group of people—they had great senses of humour, did whatever they could to help you if you needed it (like how many times did I have to ask Agus, my cabin steward to let me in the room because my keycard had gotten de-magnetized again?), and had the uncanny ability to immediately remember ALL our names after meeting us only once. A huge shout-out to the crew of the Eurodam (and especially our wine steward, Lester)—you guys were awesome and made us feel like we were all in this together.

Here’s an exchange between my mom and our dinner steward, Tomo:

Mom: Could I have the fried chicken, corn, and salad, but without the fried chicken?
Tomo (confused): Milady? You don’t want the fried chicken that comes with the fried chicken?
Mom: No, I’m not that hungry. Oh, and I’d like Jello for dessert.
Tomo: Well, only if you eat your corn and salad…

The next night:

Mom: I’d like the rainbow trout, carrots, and mashed potatoes, please.
Tomo (deadpan): Without the trout. Yes, Milady.
Mom (laughing): No, I’d like the trout.
Tomo: Of course. If you eat it all, I’ll bring you Jello again. (winks).

Seriously—these guys were AWESOME.

The food: The food was bountiful and delicious. Almost TOO bountiful. A word to the wise—just because it’s an “All You Can Eat” buffet, doesn’t mean you should eat ALL of it. After the first day, I realized I needed to pace myself, because they literally give you food all day, and there are only so many times you can walk the deck in an attempt to burn it all off. Me, I’m not too consumed with food, so I was able to have my cereal and yogurt for breakfast, a salad or something small for lunch, then have a good dinner. But there were people, a LOT of them, who you’d think hadn’t eaten for a week the way they were shoveling down the crab legs and prime rib—at breakfast, no less! I guess for some folks it’s as much a food-cation as a vacation.

The passengers: As it is in any situation, you will always meet really nice people that you might normally never have much to do with. Personally, my favourite was Jan, a hulking 77-year-old retired aviation instructor who asked to join our trivia team the first day (trivia is the driving force behind everything that happens on the ship—people literally plan their entire days around when the Trivia Challenge is taking place. The prizes are crap—a cruiseline pin, or a mug, but these people are hardcore, all guts and glory). Jan proved to be invaluable on occasion, knowing the colour that the majority of original Corvettes were (white), or the name of the Wright Brother’s first plane (I said “Kittyhawk”, but he reminded me that was where they took off from, not the name of the plane, which was the Wright Flyer). Our whole team won three times and came in second or third on most other occasions so we were like minor celebrities in the world of cruiseship trivia. On the last night, we won and got free drinks, so it made the struggle to remember how many teeth a shark loses in a year worthwhile.

The room: The room was fantastic, with a great balcony. But the best part was that every night, we’d come back after the room had been turned down, and someone had put a towel animal on the bed. One night it was an elephant, another night a crab—you never knew what you might find. The last night, I walked in, and a towel monkey was hanging from a coat hanger attached to the ceiling vent. I laughed my ass off—I may or may not have been drinking pina coladas during Happy Hour—but it’s the kind of thing that just adds a little bit more to the experience.


Overall, it was a great trip—we did some amazing shore excursions (seriously, can I LIVE in Key West?), my dad and I went snorkelling together (his first time and my second), I got to pet a stingray, and visited a rum factory. Of course, it wasn’t all fantastic—being aboard a floating hotel with 2500 other people can be a bit of a challenge, and there was a serious lack of on-board entertainment (if you don’t count eavesdropping on people debating over whether or not Donald Trump is great, or will ruin the United States—we stayed out of that sh*t because who wants to ruin a good holiday with politics? Am I right?). So I wrote this little ditty for you, based on Gilbert and Sullivan’s The Mikado, and the song “As Some Day It May Happen (I’ve Got A Little List). Here’s a link so that you can listen to it first (

The song is updated with each production of The Mikado so that it’s contemporary and relevant. And now, you can apply my own lyrics, based on Holland America’s Eurodam and the people who are on MY list:

As some day it might happen that a victim must be found
I’ve got a little list. I’ve got a little list
Of society offenders who might well be underground
And never would be missed
No, never would be missed.

There’s the couple from the lower deck whose stateroom “smells like mould”,
The people who can barely walk because they’re so damned old,
The 30-something single gal who’s travelling on her own
Who talks and TALKS to anyone but “prefers to be alone”
The buffet line enthusiasts who simply can’t resist—
I’ve got them on my list and they never will be missed.

There’s the gentleman from HBO who’s “smartest on his team”,
Whose wife just lets him brag away but always looks quite steamed,
The ladies playing dominoes whose faces seem so grim,
The people hogging hot tubs but who never want to swim,
The man who calls you “Honey”—f*cking misogynist–
I’ve got HIM on my list and he never would be missed.

There’s the smarmy cruise director who won’t pay you any mind,
Until it’s time to fill the survey card in, THEN he’s kind,
The folks on shore excursions who forget their boarding cards
Despite repeated warnings—hey, is listening THAT hard?
The husband-wife piano team who simply won’t desist–
I’m got them on my list, and they never would be missed!

Well, that’s all. I still have my sea legs, and it feels like the whole room is swaying as I’m writing. Or it could be the pina coladas…

My Week 56 – My Crazy Cruise On The Norwegian Star

The Cruise

As you may or may not be aware (if you read my blog regularly then you WILL know this), I just got back from a cruise. I’d never been on a cruise before, and last week, I wrote a bit about the two things I was most excited about: my butler, and swimming with my own dolphin. I was worried that my expectations might have been too high, but I was wrong on both counts. My butler was an awesome guy, and although he wasn’t called Johnson, he WAS named Cristopher (the lack of the “h” made him even more sophisticated). He was always dressed in a tuxedo outfit minus the topcoat, but his outfit seemed very bespoke, which is one of my new favourite words, the other being “iguana” for reasons which I will explain later. The best thing about Cristopher was that he looked, talked, and acted like a young George Takei, so every time he came in the room, it was like hanging out with Mr. Sulu. Only instead of navigating a starship, he called me “Miss Suzanne” and made hot chocolate for me. He also referred to the dock workers as “stevedores”, which is what they actually are, but I’ve never heard anyone call them that aside from me, so I felt like we were kindred, “butler-and-lady” spirits. Then there was my dolphin, also, unfortunately, NOT named Johnson. Her name was Atlas, because apparently Mexicans are unfamiliar with the genders of the Greek gods, but she was amazing. When she offered me her fins and torpedoed across the lagoon, I hung on for dear life, but laughed like a lunatic the whole way. I have nothing snarky or sarcastic to say about Atlas because she was gorgeous and obviously smarter than me. And DEFINITELY smarter than this guy:

Man (with thick southern drawl): So when I get to swim around with that fish, will someone take a picture of it?
Mexican Trainer: Sir, she’s not a fish, she’s a mammal. But yes, we have a photographer.
Man: That’s good. I want to show everyone at home that I actually did this thing.

Other Highlights of the Trip

1) Kasi, our Mayan tour guide: Kasi spoke English with an American accent, but she also spoke fluent Spanish and Mayan, having been raised in Chacchoben by an American father, Mexican mother, and Mayan grandmother. She treated the seven of us like we were her class and she was our teacher—she even had a little whiteboard so that she could draw us pictures to illustrate her points.

Kasi: OK, you guys. People think the Mayans just disappeared or were abducted by aliens, but that’s not true. Does anyone know what REALLY happened to the Mayans? Anyone?
Me: They were all killed…?
Kasi: No, but good try! If I told you it had something to do with chewing gum, the “chiclata”, what would you say? Anyone?…
The chewing gum story is true, but very complicated, so you all can look it up–but it’s true. Thanks, Adams Gum Company, for destroying the Mayan civilization. 

2) Iguanas: When I was initially told that it was going to cost me $10 US to gain entry to an “iguana sanctuary”, my first thought was “Why the f*ck would I pay to see iguanas?” OK, it’s technically not a sanctuary, and they’re not technically “rescue” iguanas, but they were still extremely cool. I never knew that a) iguanas could be the size of small dogs and that b) they also act quite a lot like dogs. We were given leaves to feed them with, and as soon as they saw us with food, they all came galloping over, staring at us with their excited little iguana eyes, mobbing us and following us around like puppies. You could pet them, and they snuggled into your hand. I texted Ken that I wanted my own iguana, since I don’t have a lagoon for my own dolphin, and he replied “Do you think an iguana would like Toronto?” which seems to me a pretty passive-aggressive way of vetoing my desire for an iguana puppy. The only downside to an iguana is that they like to climb up high and then poop, but I think it would be a fun party game for our friends—we could call it “Look Out Below!” and have prizes for anyone who managed to avoid getting shat on. I think vigilance is the key when it comes to iguanas.

3) Francisco’s No Name Restaurant: On Roatan, which is off the coast of Honduras, we toured the island with a local taxi driver named Franciso. He drove us all over the place, and when we asked about authentic Roatan cuisine and where we could go for lunch, he said, “Don’t worry—I know a place.” This initially sounded a little sketchy, but you have to trust, so we arrived at a building where there were maybe four tables under an awning. He told us what to order, and I was initially somewhat worried, but then I realized that he was going to eat too, and I figured that if the food was good enough for him, then I could feel relatively assured that I wouldn’t be getting food poisoning. Sure enough, the lunch (rice, beans, stewed beef, fried plantains, hot sauce–was delicious. When I asked him what the restaurant was called, he said, “It doesn’t have a name—it’s just a place we go. The owner and I grew up together. It’s much better than the restaurants the cruise ships recommend.” And he was right. Trust.

Of course, there are some weird things about being on cruise ship. First of all, the demographic is a TINY bit older than me. The average age of the passengers was about 75, and an overwhelming majority of them were seasoned cruisers who woke up at the crack of dawn, snagged the best lounge chairs, and stayed there all day unless it was time to hobble to the buffet and eat. Or play trivia. Seriously, there is nothing more hardcore and badass than senior citizens playing trivia for keychains and mugs. They would google answers, argue with the cruise director, and refuse to give part marks for ANYTHING, those f*ckers. But aside from the restaurant dash and the trivia frenzy, they were mostly completely immobile. On the first day, my dad and I went into the “disco lounge” to discover about 60 people just sitting there, staring into space. The silence was absolute. I turned to my dad and said, “This is exactly what I imagined the waiting room for DEATH to look like.” Then we both laughed really loudly but no one noticed, because their hearing aids were all turned off.

I also realized that there are people on cruise ships that you never want to be—you know the people I mean. They are sometimes referred to as “That Guy” or “That Woman”, and after a particular dancing misadventure in the disco lounge one late night, I resolved to never again be “the middle-aged woman who drinks a bit then thinks she can dance like she did when she was a teenager”. I also made a vow to never be any of the following people:

The Guy Who Gets Drunk and Falls Asleep at the Edge of the Pool – After the first day of all-you-can-swallow alcohol consumption, I discovered that it could be very easy to become THAT guy. I actually saw him on the second last day of the cruise, beer bottle precariously perched on the edge of the deck, sprawled out unconscious like a homeless person on a Toronto subway grate. Not a pretty picture, and one I was happy to avoid.

The Woman Whose Ass is Hanging Out of Her String Bikini – Seriously, can you NOT feel the draft? My ass crack is perfectly capable of differentiating between fresh air and the safety of my skirt-ini.

The Person Who is Late Coming Back From an Excursion, Forcing the Ship to Stay in Port and Causing the Passengers to Stand at the Handrails and Boo – I was almost that person after the dolphin swim, when I and my lovely sister-in-law discovered we had come all the way back with the key to our storage locker, which meant her photo ID was still with the dolphin people. After a mad dash in a taxi, we made it back just in time. No boos for us, because we may be forgetful, but we are f*cking efficient.

Bisexual Sexy Dancer – This is the person in every disco who has had a little too much to drink and suddenly becomes open to ANYONE, and will jiggle up to men and women alike, trying to “get me some”. This person is second only to INCESTUOUS Sexy Dancer, the elderly man who has choreographed several pre-set dance sequences which must be performed to either disco or mamba music with women young enough to be his daughters, both of whom hang around with him like he’s their sugar daddy. Only he’s too cheap to buy their drinks. Why, ladies—why?

The Cougar Who Thinks the Male Dancers in the Review Show Are SOOOO Hot – They’re all gay. Yes, even Dmitri. And yes, it’s heartbreaking.

Overall, it was a great experience. Thanks, Mom and Dad, John and Orchid, Cameron and Enayat. If only Ken and K had been there, it would have been perfect. And if either the butler or the dolphin had ACTUALLY been named Johnson, I would never have come home.


My Week 55: Sucky Real Estate, I Get A Butler

Thursday: Real Estate deals are stressful and sucky

A few weeks ago, Ken and I decided to sell our cottage. We bought it 6 years ago, after seeing it on the internet. It wasn’t my dream home, but it was super cheap, it was in a great little town close to some of our other family members, and we figured it wouldn’t take much to make it a cozy haven. I remember saying to Ken, “All this place really needs is some redecorating and laminate flooring.” Apparently, I had been watching too many “flipping” shows on HGTV, because holy sh*t, was I ever wrong. We had a home inspection, and found out that the electrical system had been put together by a 5 year-old. There was an electrical box on the wall right above where the bed would go, which looked on the outside like it had been disconnected, but was full of cut, LIVE wires. None of the outlets were grounded, and there were exposed wires everywhere, some held together with scotch tape. Our contractor said it was a miracle that the place hadn’t already burned down. We wanted to back out of the deal then, but the owners dropped the price enough that we could afford the rewiring. Once they moved out though, the real fun started, as we realized their abundance of junky old furniture, knickknacks, and Jesus paintings were covering up a lot of problems. Apparently, the previous owners were into home repairs like alcoholics are into sparkling water, and everything was done in the cheapest, sloppiest, absurdist way possible. My favourite was taking off wallpaper and discovering holes in walls that had been patched with Band aids. Or pulling up carpeting to discover 2 inches of sand underneath. And the place wasn’t THAT close to any beach—they were just slovenly housekeepers. Or maybe they couldn’t use a vacuum because the wiring kept shorting out. I had to clean the oven with Easy-Off—no, it f*cking wasn’t. There was so much build-up in there, and I got so much slime and grease on my hands that I literally almost threw up. There was the soaking wet subfloor under the sink in the kitchen which we pulled up and replaced, the toilet leaning against the bathroom wall (the bathroom was joisted with two by fours, so we had the whole thing pulled up and done to code), the doorways that had been wallpapered over, the painted masking tape disguising gaps between molding and walls, Kleenex stuffed into cracks to stop drafts—the list goes on. It took us almost a year to turn the place from a disgusting stinkbox into something habitable. Ironically, when we bought the place, the wife created a garden plan on graph paper, letting us know about all the unique and rare plants she had—we needed the plan because everything was hidden in crabgrass and weeds. Over the years, we kept on improving the place with the help of our intrepid contractor, Dale, who despite his construction prowess and our 6-year relationship, continues to call me by things other than my actual name, and just calls me names that sound similar, or start with the same consonant. But after 6 years, and a hell of a lot of hard work, the place really is a dream home.

We love our cottage, but the fact is, with me working in Toronto all week and only coming home for weekends, we’re hardly ever getting up there anymore. It’s not too far from our house, but K hates it because it has no wifi, which means she can’t play Counterhalo or League of Duty, or whatever crazy games she and her friends run around with daggers and machine guns in. So generally, she refuses to go, which means I have to choose between seeing my only child (between rounds of her killing animated characters) and having a peaceful getaway. That sounds like a no-brainer, am I right? At any rate, after a long discussion, we decided to put the cottage on the market. This is where the craziness began. After just over a month, or two weeks ago, we got word from our agent that an offer was coming in. “That’s so great!” I said to Ken, “So long as it’s not something ridiculous, like 20 grand below our asking price or something.” Well guess what? It WAS 20 grand below our asking price. And not only that, the woman wanted couches, beds, other miscellaneous furniture, all the outdoor furniture, everything in the sheds, and more, right down to personal items like a picnic basket, our Keurig, and the LINENS ON THE BEDS! Who the hell wants someone else’s old sheets as part of a house deal? I was like “forget that sh*t”, but our agent suggested we take out anything we wanted to keep, and send it back with a higher price. So we took practically everything out, and counter-offered with something a little more reasonable. Eventually, we all settled at a price we could live with, throwing in a couch and a couple of bed frames. AND the linens. She was adamant. Apparently, flannel sheets are a deal-breaker to some people. So Ken and I, with the help of my aunt, started the annoying process of packing stuff into boxes. We’d just nicely gotten the ENTIRE kitchen packed up and brought home when our agent called me to say the deal was off. According to the buyer’s agent, the house was falling down. The foundation was crumbling and the wooden frame under the floor was rotting. F*cking news to me. I was like, “Says who? Did she crawl under the place herself, or is there some more legitimate source for this information? What am I supposed to tell people? ‘Yeah, the place is about to collapse—an eighty-year-old real estate agent told me so.” (Well, she looks eighty on her business card). Our agent was also shocked but said we would have to sign the termination of the agreement, and I was like, “Hell no. Not until I see some actual proof that I’m about to fall through the floor.” This was where things started to get fun and sketchy as they refused to tell us who did the inspection, or provide any kind of report. We’re still embroiled in this sh*t right now. They’ve finally copped to having an inspection, but are demanding that we pay half the cost before they’ll show it to us. So I did what any reasonable person would do—I called Dale. Mainly because he’s the only person I know who will crawl around in a 3 foot high space underneath a cottage that may or may not be on the verge of collapse. And after this, he can call me ANYTHING he wants.

Saturday: I get ready to cruise

So right now, despite all the real estate stress, I’m SUPER excited because I’m going on my first cruise. I’ve been so excited, in fact, that I didn’t even really pay attention to where I’m going. After having several people say, “Where does the cruise go?” and me saying, “Wow, I’m not really sure,” I made my dad write it down for me so I wouldn’t look like a complete idiot. This is my parents’ gift to me for reaching a “milestone” birthday—as some people might say, I am now a woman of “a certain age”, and it’s not the awesomely fun age where you get to finally drink, buy lottery tickets, play bingo, or watch porn. So yeah, an “older” milestone than all of that. Still, I’m young enough to appreciate how cool this cruise is going to be, even if Ken and K can’t come. It’s just me, my parents, my brother, his wife, their son, and her dad. I think Ken feels a little left out, but it’s not my fault that he “can’t get time off work” or whatever. K said she couldn’t miss 5 days of school because missing math would kill her, and I’m hoping it’s because she doesn’t want to fall behind, not because she loves math so much. Because let’s be honest—if you love math so much that you would miss a cruise to a tropical island…enough said. Anyway, there are two main things that I’m the most excited about, aside from the “all you can drink” alcohol package:

1) I just found out today that our suite comes with its own butler. This is the best thing EVER. Ken wasn’t particularly impressed but K totally got it.

K: His name will be Johnson.
Me: Yes! And he’ll wear a tuxedo. Even at 3 o’clock in the morning.
K: And he’ll have an English accent.
Me: Absolutely. The only thing better than my English butler Johnson would be if he was a monkey butler.

I’m probably overthinking it, and my expectations will most likely be dashed when it turns out that my English butler Johnson is a guy in shorts and a Hawaiian shirt named “Jimmy”, who will recommend Budweiser and pretzels instead of champagne cocktails and caviar. Still, a girl can dream.

2) I get to swim with dolphins. This has been a lifelong dream of mine, ever since I almost failed grade 9 science and realized that I was NOT destined to be a marine biologist. Instead, I learned how to analyze poetry, which is almost the same thing. But without the dolphins. (As a side note, it’s still really easy to get into an English program. They ask two questions—1) Do you have the money for tuition? 2) Are you breathing? The second question is just a formality. If you have the tuition, breathing isn’t really a requirement.) I never thought that I would be able to come face to bottlenose with a dolphin, but it looks like that’s going to happen. I even had to buy “biodegradable” sunscreen, so it wouldn’t harm the dolphins. It was expensive, but it’s money well-spent. And if my butler isn’t up to snuff, I can always call my dolphin “Johnson”.