It started innocently enough. I was on a cruise some years ago on an anonymous cruise line. Let’s call it “Prince”. Like airlines and other businesses where brand loyalty is extremely important, cruise lines have set up their own loyalty programs. They hook you on their, sometimes ephemeral, awards. It’s taken very seriously by the companies and us goofy consumers. For example, I knew a guy who started flying on very short flight legs to nowhere at full price just to accumulate miles on his account. It probably cost him a few thousand bucks. But, he had the animal joy of getting enough points to go big time, such as upgrading on a flight to Europe. The joy usually doesn’t last too long since first class and business class seats are long gone before there can be any upgrades. On the other hand, it must be a thrill flying first class to Dubuque on mileage points.
I refuse to fall into that trap. No sir. I’m fixated on something I can really get…FREE LAUNDRY! Yes, folks, if you accumulate enough cruise days you are entitled to FREE LAUNDRY on all your following cruises. Wow! Just thinking about it is enough to get me slobbering like Pavlov’s dog. And, the FREE LAUNDRY is in addition to tons of free minutes on “Prince’s” internet operation, free shoe shines, preferred check-in, preferred disembarkation, free mini-bar set up, and even an invitation to the Captain’s reception along with another 2,000 nuts.
Just think. Once I get my quota I’ll cut my packing by two-thirds. No more wheeling that enormous cargo container full of extra clothing and useless “extras.” No more packing enough underwear to outfit the entire U.S. Marine Corps; no more lugging three dozen shirts; no more stuffing seven pairs of slacks – and so on. Instead, every few days the laundry bag goes out full of dirty stuff and comes back with cleanies. They’re even pressed. Is there anything to compare? Not for me, amigos. It’s no wonder that rich old widow lives on a cruise ship. She doesn’t cook, clean, make the bed or even have laundry to wash and iron.
I know, I know. Almost all cruise ships have laundry facilities. But, who wants to take up perfectly good bingo, trivia or reading time in a hot, steamy laundry room? Who wants to schlep heavy rolls of quarters to feed the washers and driers? We all know that God made quarters for the casino’s slot machines.
I also know that you can usually take advantage of a deal to fill a small plastic bag with laundry, and for $20 have it washed and pressed. $20? That’s enough for a bottle of cheap red in the dining room. Better to drink it than wash it.
I tell you that FREE LAUNDRY is the greatest thing since liquid shoe polish. What’s that? You claim it’s not free? Rubbish. I’ve run all the numbers based on my course in legal accounting (the same one that Madoff’s accountant took). Here’s the true financial picture:
151 cruise days or 16 cruises for two (lowest price), $32,000
Land excursions, $32,000
Transport to and from ship, $2,000
Useless souvenirs, $4,000
Total excluding extras, $73,000
From that modest sum it is necessary to deduct the amount that would have been spent on vacation, using the accepted accounting practice known as the “Anyhow Principle”. This is amount for cruises that we would have taken “anyhow” (perhaps not all on “Prince”) and is estimated reasonably to be $63,000. That leaves only $10,000, surely a pittance to have expended over 30 years to qualify for my personal Holy Grail – FREE LAUNDRY!
I admit there’s one remaining problem: my wonderful, usually rational and much beloved wife advises that she adamantly refuses to reduce the amount of clothing, sundries and luggage she will take on all future cruises. Oh well, nothing’s perfect.