Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox : Cruisin’ for a Boozin’


For everyone who has a bucket list of shit they want to do, there is another bucket list full of shit they don’t want to ever do. On the top of my ‘shit I never want to do’ list was ‘go on a cruise’. Last week I went on a cruise. It seems I am ticking off more of the shit I don’t want to do than the shit I want to do. Like getting fatter. I am fucking nailing that.

Let me tell you why I never wanted to go on a cruise. It’s full of fat bogans and I don’t want to be part of that cohort. Plus, it’s on a boat. (I get seasick.) You can’t get off. (I have anxiety.) To me, going on a cruise is about as pointless as going on a Sunday drive with your parents where they wrecked a perfectly good day by getting into the car and driving to a destination, where no-one got out, where no-one experienced anything except being crammed into a moving capsule with disgruntled family members whose thighs are squashed against yours. The drive just ambled around country roads until an unofficial halfway was reached, then you just did a U-turn and went home. The thrill apparently was experiencing looking at the environment from the safety of one’s vehicle while in a flesh press.

This is how I felt about the idea of a cruise. So you could imagine how excited I was when some girls I went to school with suggested we have an informal reunion on a fucking cruise. After some trepidation I agreed. If there’s one thing I hate more than the idea of being on a cruise, it’s the idea of missing out. This was quite a conundrum. So I agreed. A year ago.

That year came around pretty damn fast, and there I was, another fat bogan being ushered along by an old woman in a Santa hat. All the staff were wearing Xmas outfits. Why? Because it was Xmas in July. I don’t even like Xmas at Xmas; I’m hardly keen on Xmas in July. That’s like having Easter in September. I’m already nervous about the ‘fun’ squad that insists on dress-ups.

Then we get to our cabins. My girlfriends and I score a three-way. ’Cos I was voted the most unlikely to take a piss in the middle of the night I landed the top bunk. As an 8-year-old this is the bed of the alpha girl. As a 40-something woman this could be the potential cause of a drunken head injury.

At six foot tall and 90 kilos I was uncertain I was still top-bunk material. It’s been a few decades since I last climbed a ladder to go to bed.

It was clear my fantasy of being drugged and dragged back to my cabin was going to have to be scrubbed. Unless I found a fireman who could carry me up over his shoulder. At one point I considered investing in a bed helmet just so my family didn’t have to welcome a brain-injured mother at the dock in three days’ time.

Being on a cruise is exactly like being at an RSL. For three days. With no door out. They must buy their carpet at the same place. I get motion sickness and nothing brings on nausea more than large swirling carpet print. Everyone on the cruise is obsessed with activities. There’s even a handbook. You have to do activities on a cruise because no-one wants you to start thinking. You’ll ruin the experience.

Alongside the nursing-home fare of Bingo, Pictionary and Trivial Pursuit there was a 10am workshop called ‘How to get a flatter stomach’. Easy. Don’t go on a fucking cruise. My favourite was the follow-up at 11am: ‘How to look 10 years younger’. I could have run that workshop in 15 seconds. ‘Stop shopping at Millers.’ Now, let’s get back to the buffet.

Every second of the day someone was hassling you to do some stupid shit. Like dance the Macarena. On the first day I found a quiet deck and snuck off to read a book. It was heaven. No annoying cruise directors trying to get me to do the Nutbush. I get halfway through my first paragraph and I look up and there’s a snowman standing there with a photographer asking if I want to get my photo taken. I said, ‘Are you fucking kidding? Why would I want a photo with a fucking snowman?’ He literally melted on the deck scorched by my bitch rays.

That’s when it dawned on me. The only way to survive a cruise was to get drunk. Really, really fucking drunk. It’s no coincidence cocktails are $12. It’s a sign. So
I crossed over. My IQ dropped a good 20 points and next minute I was line dancing. I killed karaoke. I dropped and rolled across the dance floor. I lap-danced an 18-year-old boy whose parents actually asked me to embarrass him. Yep, I went Kath & Kim on the P&O and I had a top time. Who would have thought! And, as they say, what happens on the cruise, stays on the cruise.

Or does it? I’ve just spotified Achey Breaky Heart for the 10th time. Maybe I did get a hit to the head. Shit, I should have taken it in the bottom bunk.

4 responses to “Mandy Nolan’s Soapbox : Cruisin’ for a Boozin’”

  1. Sandie Duggan says:

    Love you Mandy, my face is aching from laughing and have bruise on bum from falling of chair.
    Sandie (ex Byron, now in Geelong)

  2. David Hancock says:

    Maria says take the ten day cruise next time and go by yourself…

  3. Amanda Gilligan says:

    You are a living treasure! I will now seriously reconsider my list…
    Love your work..keep it coming.

  4. Peter Hatfield says:

    Wonderful Mandy

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