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A (Cruising) Pirate’s Cache
How to Pursue No-Cost Cruising Souvenirs

by Linda Coffman

Compulsive? Who? Me? Only if you think there’s something strange about packing a fluorescent highlighter in my tote bag. What for? Why, to mark my shipboard daily schedule of activities of course.

“Stretch at Sunrise.” Check. “Walk a Mile.” Check. “Pool Games.” Possibly. “Trivia.” Maybe, but only if there isn’t a sports theme. “The Newlywed or Not-So-Newlywed Game.” Never—my husband just won’t cooperate.

And so it goes… I highlight the onboard activities with a purpose. Are you catching on? I’m a cruising pirate. I want STUFF. You know, the booty—those logo prizes that are only earned or won. No one can buy my pink and gray denim cap embroidered with the “Norwegian Cruise Line” logo, the heavy-duty Princess Cruises commuter mug that fits the cup holder in my car so perfectly, or my Royal Caribbean 50’s night “Greaser” tee-shirt. I earned that last one by lip-synching “Stop In the Name of Love”—my husband unkindly suggested I was the only contestant old enough to remember Diana Ross & the Supremes, but that didn't stop me.

My treasure trove is stuffed with key rings, caps, visors, shirts, cups, mugs, waist packs, bookmarks, totes and beach bags, umbrellas, and t-shirts. Whew! What haven’t I acquired? Well, there’s that most coveted of all shipboard prizes, the Carnival “ship on a stick.” My chest wasn’t hairy enough, nor are my knees exceptionally knobby, so I had to pass on those contests. And, while I carted tap shoes and sequins to participate in the ubiquitous passenger “talent” show (on a heaving show lounge stage!), I didn’t earn a prize. Not even a consolation gift, although technically it wasn’t a contest.

But back to fun and games. My favorite is Novel Quest, a peculiar sort of team competition—a scavenger hunt without the hunt. Participants must come up with the demanded item without leaving the room. Pretty simple when a picture of Honest Abe is requested. However, it’s slightly more difficult (and hilarious) when the Cruise Director requests a pair of men’s boxer shorts… without the man inside them. Does anyone play this game on land? 

Then there’s Liar’s Club and the Newlywed-and-Not-So-Newlywed Game, a shipboard adaptation of the popular television quiz show. It was never so much fun on TV.

Surely everyone is familiar with Trivia. My cruising pal Judi is a master of esoteric and obscure knowledge. I mean, how many people do you know who care that Farfel is the name of the dog in the old Nestlé’s commercials? Well, Judi cares and it pays off to be her Trivia partner. Judi’s known to be somewhat picky when it comes to prizes, though. Not just anything will do. Like the time on a Holland America Line ship when she won a lovely mantel clock and wanted to trade it for the less desirable second prize—a ballpoint pen. Judi’s practical explanation, “I don’t have a mantel.”

An unwritten rule of pirating is that you have to use your stuff. Judi’s husband Michael won a Costa money clip in 1990 and carries it to this day—he’s never found a better one. And who doesn’t love their Holland America Line tote bag? I use mine over and over and over. I stay dry in the rain with my Celebrity umbrella, sip coffee from my Princess Cruises commuter mug, and keep my place in the book I'm reading with a Silversea Cruises bookmark. All the goodies pictured above were prizes I've earned over the years.

Some passengers gloat over jackpot winnings in the casino. To me, that’s just money. I’d rather have something that mere cash can’t buy.

However, if shopping is your bag, Cruise Diva offers strategies for smart Shopping on Your Cruise Vacation.

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