Cruising with Teens
I thought about the possibility of getting an additional room. From previous readings, I knew that at least one occupant of every room had to be over the age of 25, but it seemed to me that there was some kind of exception to the rule. I dug out the Celebrity Brochure to study the fine print.
I found the relevant section:
No guest under the age of 21 will be booked in a stateroom unless accompanied by an adult 25 years or older. This age limit will be waived for minor children sailing with their parents or guardians in adjacent staterooms.
I dialed the number for Cruise411, and got a different person this time. I explained the whole situation before getting to the proposed solution.
“I would like to invoke the Children in an Adjacent Stateroom Clause. Does 50 feet away and across the hall count as adjacent? Room 8119 seems to be available.”
“I don’t know. Can you hold while I call Celebrity?”
I didn’t get any music this time, so I had to entertain myself. By the time the agent came back on the line, I had estimated this year’s taxes and taken a short nap.
“Mr. X? They said that would be fine.”
“Great. Let’s do it.”
“I’ll get everything arranged and send you an email this afternoon. It will have directions and a link that you’ll need to follow to provide a confirmation of the order. Then you’ll be all set.”
In less than an hour, the email arrived. With a couple of clicks, the deal was done.
I felt an immediate wave of relief, and went to inform Kris of the progress. She was correcting tests with her usual intensity, and I couldn’t really tell if she heard me. I waited patiently for an acknowledgement.
Eventually she paused, looked up in my direction and said “great,” before turning her attention to the next student’s work.
My pride lasted until a few days later when I read two documented cases where cruisers had managed to get an extra bed for the CS. Oh well – I’m very good at finding the most expensive way out of a problem.
Now it was time to take care of a few details.
I had a little meeting with the boys to tell them what to expect, and what was expected of them.
“You have to look decent. No clothes with holes,” I began. “Button down shirts. Real shoes. Nice pants. You will need to wear your pants with the waistband in the right place – not halfway down your butt. No exposed boxers.”
“That’s just at dinner, right?”
“No, that’s all the time. You should enjoy your waist while you still have one. There’s a thing called a belt that can help.” I detected some concern about this. “Everyone on board will be in the same situation.” Blank stares. Time to change the subject.
“Food is always available somewhere. You can order room service anytime. It’s free.”
“Free?” That last phrase got their attention. Danny smiled broadly. Wells wears a stone face, but the trained eye can detect his subtle expressions. In order to avoid the appearance of smiling, he has to use the muscles around his mouth to keep his lips stationary. He appeared to be straining a bit.
“You can hang around the pool during the day, go to a movie, work out – whatever you want. We will expect you to eat dinner with us.”
They both nodded.
“I’m going to need your measurements for the tuxedos. Some day this week, go up to the mall and ask the people in the tux shop if they’ll measure you for an ‘out-of-town’ rental.”
A couple of days later, Dan came over with a bag full of clothes. I thought he might be on his way to the Goodwill drop-off.
“I wanted to show you some shirts and pants to see if they’re ok for the cruise,” he said while lifting a wad of fabric from the bag. He unrolled it to reveal a button-down shirt. It looked casual and comfortable, beige with a brown grid pattern. “This isn’t even one of my best.”
“It looks fine,” said Kris. “Will it stay tucked in?”
The next shirt was a solid blue oxford with buttoned collar flaps, quite conservative. “I have more like the first one. I guess I won’t need this one,” Dan said with some relief.
“That kind of shirt would be really good for dinner,” I said, but Dan had apparently already made up his mind that the oxford wouldn’t be necessary.
He had two samples of khaki pants, one festooned with pockets, loops and buttons. The second pair was plain. We made a show of inspecting each item before making a pronouncement. “Bring the plain pair.”
Wells had very little in his wardrobe that met the requirements for dressing on the cruise. Kris took him shopping, and reported that he was cooperative and pleasant. I find it hard to maintain those qualities while shopping for clothes, so I was proud of him.
I received tux measurements from both boys without additional prompting. It is unusual to only have to ask for something once.
I studied the tux rental website (http://www.cruiselineformal.com). It appeared that I would have to do three completely separate transactions to make use of the on-line ordering feature. The FAQ said that orders could be phoned or faxed. In the name of simplicity, I tried the phone.
I negotiated a phone menu system of needless complexity, twice indicating by my menu choice that I was sailing on Celebrity. Eventually, I heard a human’s voice. She sounded tired.
“May I help you?”
“Yes, I’d like to reserve three tuxedos.”
“What cruise line?”
I held my tongue, and for the third time indicated “Celebrity.”
“Since you want three tuxes, you’ll have to use email.”
“Email? I didn’t even see that option on the web page. Is there a special address I need to use?”
“Yes, it’s http://www.cruiselineformal.com.”
“That’s the website. I already know about that. What is the email address I need to use for the order?”
She repeated the web address. I could see this was going nowhere so I thanked her, hung up, and got to work on composing a fax. Minutes later, I sent the whole order to the designated fax number – nice and neat.
Since we were taking someone else’s child with us, I though we might need some kind of formal permission. Sure enough, I found the following deep in the fine print:
Adults who are not the parent or Legal Guardian of any minor child traveling with them are required to present the child’s valid passport and visa (or certified copy of the child’s birth certificate) and an original notarized letter signed by at least one of the child’s parents. The notarized letter from the child’s parent must authorize the traveling adult to take the child on the specific cruise and must authorize the traveling adult to supervise the child and permit any medical treatment that must be administered to the child. If a non-parent adult is a Legal Guardian, the adult must present a certified certificate of Guardianship with respect to the child.
Looking around the Internet, I found a form template for Temporary Guardianship of a Minor Child. I modified it to contain the specific information and phrasing contained in Celebrity’s directive. Kris and I met Dan’s parents at the high school early one morning to sign the form in front of a Notary. I also got Dan’s official birth certificate to file with all of the other travel documents that were piling up.
The boys’ documents showed up first, as an electronic attachment to an email. This was the first time we had any flight information. Depart Boston at 7:45 a.m., 45 minutes to change planes in Atlanta, arriving in Miami at 1:20 p.m.
“Miami? Aren’t we sailing from Ft. Lauderdale?”
My knowledge of Florida geography is limited, so I had to look at a map to discover that the two cities are fairly close. Still, I figured, we wouldn’t arrive at the ship until 3 p.m. at the earliest. Not much wiggle room. I hope it isn’t snowing in Boston on February 22.
I got an email confirmation for two tux rentals. Yet another phone call ensued.
A few days later the adults’ documents arrived via Fedex. After verifying that we had been assigned the same flights, I made arrangements for a shuttle van to the airport. I printed the reservation information.
Kris got to the printout before I did. Plaintively she asked, “They’re picking us up at 4:30 in the morning??” I shrugged it off…
I went to get a haircut one evening after work. Judy at Londonderry Hair is the official hair stylist for our cruise trips (and the other less glamorous parts of life, too). As I was being shorn, I glanced up to see Danny’s mother (Mrs. P) peek around the corner and address Judy.
“I came to pay for Dan’s haircut. I understand he just dropped in without an appointment or anything.”
Judy replied, “Yes, he did. What a nice surprise.”
“Yeah, he’s going on a cruise and I think he wants to look nice,” said Mrs. P.
I tried to be invisible so I could listen to this conversation without affecting its content, but Judy said, “Oh Chestah (Boston accent), Kris told me you’re going on a cruise too!”
My cover was blown, so I admitted that Dan was taking us along on his vacation. Mrs. P said she hadn’t seen him this excited in many years.
I sent an email off to “Ms. M” at Celebrity to test the interest of the cruise line in stocking the upcoming Galaxy book on board the ships. I added mention that we were cruising again and put in a plug for a galley tour. Although the email didn’t bounce, I never heard back.
I did hear from our old friends Frank and Chris (mentioned in the Angelina Lauro supplement to the Galaxy story). We will be in St. Thomas on Thursday, and Frank is taking the day off to ‘hang out’. It has been 24 years since we’ve seen each other. Should be interesting.
We head in to the weekend with a full day to pack. Kris is ready for 100% relaxation. She may not get off the ship until St. Thomas. Wells is excited, but it takes a trained eye to see it. Dan is excited, which anyone can see.
And me? After all that, I agree with the voice in my head about needing a vacation. Just getting ready for a vacation creates the need. It is kind of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Just as I prepared to post this chapter Kris came in and asked, “Where is Wells’s birth certificate?”
“Right there in the fireproof box with all the other documents,” I answered with complete assurance.
Kris fought her way into the corner of my office and opened the box.
“That’s what I was afraid of. It’s not here.”
I felt a chill. “What do you mean? – I had everything all together!”
“He needed it last week for a job application. I gave it to him.”
Oh boy…this is a kid who is prone to misplacing his wallet for weeks at a time. I’m holding my breath.
So some questions remain. Can a pair of teenagers traveling with adults manage to have a good time on a cruise? Can they get their act together enough to even make the trip? How does the teenaged mind deal with packing for a weeklong cruise?