Perils of a Cruise Buffet

The discovery of Penicillin was one of the twentieth centuries greatest achievements, well accidents if you want to get technical. As most people know the discovery of the most prescribed antibiotic in history was made by Sir Alexander Fleming in 1928 while experimenting with what we know as the flu. The story of the day mentions a nameless lab assistant practicing containment in a rather sloppy manner, an open window and haphazard gelatin. Having said that, I recently returned from a two-week Panama Canal cruise on a major cruise line that shall remain nameless. My wife and I affectionately referred to the buffet on the ship as “The Petri Dish” (more on that later). Although we didn’t discover any Nobel worthy medicaments, salves or poultices we did come to know a few simple truths I would like to share with this audience as it relates to the buffet.

First, you want to be first. In fact I’d like to amend that. If you are unable to make reservations at one of the fine restaurants on the ship or can see land and think you are a strong enough swimmer; you want to be first. Hell, it is worth the risk of not being a strong enough swimmer to reach land to avoid being in the line at the buffet. By the way, I really enjoy the placement of those automatic Purel sanitizers placed at the entry of the buffet lines. I am willing to bet that they still have the original liquid that was loaded shortly after the ships christening. On a side-note, remember in the film “Caddyshack” when Judge Smails wife christens the yacht and the champagne bottle breaks off part of the bow, that was awesome. Nothing like that happened on this ship. Anyway, be first at the buffet and if you see children get the hell out of there.

Second, don’t be second, be first. 

Third, don’t even consider being third. In fact if you are third, scan the horizon for land (see above). If for some reason you didn’t heed my advice thus far, you have the potential to be exposed to many pathogens of a non-hygienic nature. Let’s say you were third in line. Let’s explore your exposure, which of course would not be limited to ten bacterial encrusted knuckles, four sweaty palms, numerous respiratory exhalations and the worst of all… stray body hair (and this isn’t considering the hygiene of the third-world crew members who prepared your “food”). If you manage to endure this buffet version of the intro for the made for TV movie “The Stand” you should visit the Aruban casinos as soon as possible.

Back to the petri dish. Actually, I think I’ll save that for another day when we can further discuss the specificities of sneeze guards, the culturing of bacteria and the loose regulations for ships registered out of Panama. Anyway, I lost about six pounds on this two-week adventure. Not too bad when you consider I’m not a strong swimmer.

Published by DW

Freelance writer, photographer and traveler who enjoys sharing his experiences with others.

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