I’ve swam my whole life, till I got fat. I played water polo but then I stopped cause I got tired. I’ve been a lifeguard. I got my scuba card or whatever it is and have dove, dived, or diven however you say it all over the world. I say these things not to brag or to boast. I say them so you can understand how surprised I was when I became sure that I was going to drown in the in a 8 foot by 4 foot windowless jail sail on a cruise ship of the coast of Florida.
Right. Let me explain. I worked on a cruise ship after college. I was a videographer. It was a dumb job and the perfect way to avoid my impending adult life living in Sacramento. I was on the Crown Princess. The newest vessel in the fleet. There are 19 decks on the Crown. I lived on deck four which placed me just below the waterline. I shared my cabin/prison with a kid from southern california named Rory. I think you know what that dude looks like. We called our cabin Bakersfield. We had turned the room into a bar floating around in international waters. We maintained a closet full of booze and cigarettes. To placate the underpaid and comically overworked crew on a cruise ship tobacco and alcohol are basically free. At $1.25 a pack I ran the numbers and I was losing money NOT smoking.
We sailed away from Port Canaveral, Florida a little after 3pm. I had nothing to do since we were headed to sea so I brewed a pot of coffee to help jolt away the previous evening. I sat down in a the one chair we haid that barely fit between a desk and previously mentioned liquor filled wardrobe. The desk had a tiny tv on it along with piles of empty marlboro light packages. A shelf above the desk had our 360, it’s cinder block like power supply and a coffee pot.
In hindsight I would suggest never placing hot beverages above eye level as a rule to live by. I poured a cup of coffee and was about to light a cigarette when my chair started to lean backwards. This isn’t uncommon when you live on a ship. The ship lists. You lean. It lists to port and starboard and you list to port and bounce your way back to starboard. Later in life you can impress people with your knowledge of nautical terms.
My chair continued to tip back and the desk, television, coffee pot, xbox, and open case of soda cans I forgot to mention in the previous paragraph began to tip forward. Now this was uncommon. And it kept continuing. Over the course of about a minute in real time and four to five hours in HOLY FUCK I MAY DIE TIME the Crown Princess listed a maximum of 24 degrees as it rolled back and forth. I became the star of a wacky silent film about a fella who just doesn’t know what to do about the weaponized cans of soda flying around his room. Then the coffee. Then the power brick of the xbox. Then I was slammed back the other way. Then I threw my arms out as the soda (sorry Pop for yokels) came careening back at my shins now flying around the cabin.
This was a supposedly horrifying thing I hope to never see again. I was going to die on a fucking cruise ship. My last vision your bubby floating past as I sink to the depths. There was no rose to reaching out. Just a pot of hot coffee as I died like a looney toon on vacation. When the listing subsided. I paused the way any of you would to just do a systems check and make sure you are still alive and that your pants we not ALL THE SHITTED. I look left. I look right. Take a big breath and slam open my cabin door. The australian fellow next door summed up the event much better than my long worded rambling account possibly could. “Huh, wicked.” Yes Adam. mate. It was wicked.
The ensuing events and announcements all sort of bleed together. No one died. Hate to ruin that cliff hanger but I did live, sadly. Footage of the event has found its way on to youtube. Search “Crown Princess Disaster” My personal favorite is the footage from the youth center. It’s best described as Poseidon Adventure crossed with Bugsy Malone. My friends were eating a late lunch in the buffet on the top deck that silly time we all almost died. They saw the water from the pools pour out and no joke rush its way down an elevator shaft. Those on the decks below compared it to The Shining. We returned to florida and offloaded the passengers. The crew would be staying onboard as we made our way back to our home port in New York.
But for the evening we would be staying in Port Canaveral. During the incident much of the liquor onboard had been destroyed. But somehow someway more than a few bottles remained unharmed till they made their way to the crew bar that night. Look. You’ve been to parties. I’ve been to parties. I can promise you that night the crew had what I can best describe as a celebration of life. It was one single craziest evenings of my life. Everyone made it home with someone that night. I think the idea was like.. WE LIVED. Groups of people hung out in cabins together. More than a few couples started and ended that evening.
In the morning we headed back to New York. There was no serious damage to the ship somehow. Honestly credit to the captain who handled everything like a pro. The crew was incredible and cleaned the entire ship up and had things mostly back to normal before we made it back to port in New York.
I leave you with one thing. The movie that was playing that evening for the passengers? No joke, swear to dusty rhodes? Mother Fucking TITANIC.