Why Cruise Ship Life is a Lot Like Living in Southeast Alaska.

Being on a cruise ship is somewhat like living on an island in Alaska.  Sometimes you run out of stuff and can’t replace it easily.  During much of our kids’ growing up it was difficult to get fresh milk that hadn’t spoiled.  The kids got used to Milkman powdered milk.  Sometimes when weather hindered transportation we would run out of odd things, once there was a provolone cheese shortage.  Around Christmas stuff like wrapping paper or even Christmas trees can go short.  (although we can go into the forest and cut our own.)   Merchants have to estimate the demand and then hope for good weather and no shipping screw-ups.

Running a Cruise ship is a little like that.  Logistics can be a challenge.  You have to be able to predict what people need and want, order enough to satisfy needs while not ordering too much and creating waste.  Normally the ship does a good job, but, as I said, living on a cruise ship is a little like living on an island in Southeast Alaska.  Here are some examples.

The ship ran out of ice cream cones.  There was plenty of ice cream — no cones, while sailing through much of the South Pacific.  We had a particularly warm spell form Panama through Auckland and I guess there was an unusually high demand for portable ice cream.

Likewise the ship ran out of lemonade twice, we replenished in Tahiti but were out again by Auckland.  I don’t know whether this was because of the heat, or as one steward suggested, because of the increasing popularity of the “Arnold Palmer” a mixture of iced tea and lemonade.  At any rate they hadn’t gotten the balance right.

The blueberry shortage was critical enough to prompt each of us getting a letter in our cabins apologizing for the lack of blueberries.  It seems a strange thing to prompt a note.  I mean, I like blueberries but I like ice cream cones better and we didn’t get a note about that.  In Sitka we run out of certain types of produce all the time, and when I was a kid produce was only available in season, even in New Jersey.  Was there a run on blueberry pancakes? (Each morning my half grapefruit has a blueberry plunked in the middle, but I don’t eat enough grapefruit to prompt a shortage.)

Currently the ship has a shortage of printer toner.  I know this because the machine that sits in the lobby and prints out our current account when we swipe it with our room key has been down for a while.  The cruise line encourages you to check your account periodically for discrepancies but apparently we’ve been doing it too often, so the machine is shut down until toner reinforcements arrive.

But one shortage got the most comment and promoted this letter to each passenger.

By now some of you have noticed the difference in the quality of our toilet paper.  And while that sparks the imagination of several witty comments, I’ll refrain from those and inform you of the fact that we are partially short—supplied of our customary quality from the factory.  In lieu, we received an alternative product that still meets the dispersity requirements for on-board use, but, admittedly so does not entirely compare with to our normal quality.  We apologize for this temporary inconvenience and are pleased to say that the balance of the product is being shipped to Papeete for the swiftest changeover thereafter.

The problem is now fixed.  Apparently only certain toilet paper can be used in Amsterdam’s marine sanitation system.  It needs to be able to disintegrate in water.  The stuff that we had in our toilet disintegrated in my hand before it ever reached my bottom.  Being a seasoned traveler I always have my own supply and I understand the need to use the trash receptacle in the bathroom.  In many countries that’s normal.

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