Hank went on a cruise with his family to celebrate his grandmother’s 75th birthday. Because of a change in his work schedule, Hank had to leave early to return home to California. But when you’re a guest of Celebrity Cruises, YOU ARE A GUEST OF CELEBRITY CRUISES. There is no “return home” for you! Be quiet! Eat waffles!
According to Hank’s full story, the cruise was a magnificent blend of fine food, shambling old people, questionable musical numbers, and gorgeous scenery. It was only when he tried to leave before the date on his itinerary that the ship’s pleasure police went into overdrive:
When we reached Juneau, I had to return to Los Angeles. But when I tried, with my luggage, to leave the ship along with the hundreds of other passengers disembarking to see the city, the ship’s crew stopped me and informed me that I would not be permitted to leave the ship with my luggage. Then, in the rudest possible way and without explanation, the ship’s security escorted me, as though I were a criminal, to the ship’s Guest Relations desk, where the security officer informed the concierge that I had tried to escape.
Apparently, some brain-dead U.S. lawmakers in 2006 passed the Jones Act, which among other things, fines foreign cruise ships that allow a ship passenger to disembark from a ship in a state different from the one from which he originally boarded. Because most cruise ships, including the one I was on, operate under a foreign flag to avoid being subject to a number of U.S. laws, the cruise line wouldn’t let me off the ship. I was afraid I would be trapped on a huge floating city, being forced to “enjoy” a pleasure cruise where I could eat, swim, eat, and learn about nature as much as I wanted — for all of eternity. I imagined being locked in the theater with Brett Nixon yelling at me, “You will stay, stay, stay, stay, stay on this amazing pleasure cruise, and you will like, like, like, like, like it and Alaaskaaah!”
For over an hour, Celebrity Cruises held me on the ship against my will as I argued with them about the ridiculous bureaucracy of it all. Finally, they agreed to release me from their custody after fining me $200 and sending me to U.S. Customs (though I had never stepped foot on foreign soil, being on the foreign cruise ship evidently required me to “reenter” the United States through Customs). The way the cruise line’s security had treated me, it was though I had tried to steal their precious waffle-making apparatus from the waffle bar and smuggle it off the ship. Except I was just trying disembark and return home, in my own country.
Eventually, I escaped their clutches. At U.S. Customs, they barely looked at my paperwork and let me continue on to the airport. But I miss the waffles.
“Held captive on a ship with delicious waffles by Celebrity Cruises” [withoutbaggage]