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Sex

My Abysmal Failure to Have Sex on a Cruise Ship

I had high hopes for a high-seas adventure that would involve boning, but the ship turned out to be inhabited mostly by elderly people and an unfortunately-named band.
January 31, 2015, 1:00pm
Photos by Megan Koester

When the opportunity to go on a three-day Princess cruise to Mexico presented itself this month, I had to say yes. Never before had I been on a cruise, and I felt it was something I needed to do, whether I liked it or not. I basically saw it as the Bat Mitzvah of vacations. Unlike my Bat Mitzvah, however, I also saw this as a monumental opportunity to get laid.

Normally this isn't the sort of thing I aim for when vacationing, but this year, circumstances changed. That's because I decided to make my first real New Year's resolution—no sex until I'm in a relationship—which I managed to break a few hours after the clock struck midnight on New Year's Eve. (It was with the same guy I slept with last New Year's, so I wrote it off as a holiday tradition.) Since then, there's been no sex, and given my relationship track record, I know full well that I probably won't have sex for a very long time. This cruise, however, sounded like it could be a three-day reprieve where resolutions don't count. I'd be in international waters, after all. The official motto of international waters is, "everything's made up and the points don't matter." Actually, that's Whose Line Is It Anyway, but you get the point. With this in mind, I made the decision to unlock my metaphorical chastity belt and see where the horny took me.

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When we arrived at the departure port, I surveyed everyone else waiting to board the ship. It seemed as though my friend Megan and I were the only adults under the age of 50, but I was still optimistic. Maybe a bachelor party was boarding from another side, or some college seniors decided to have an early spring break but were running late. I thought to myself, It's not possible that we're the only ones our age aboard a cruise ship filled with over 1,000 people. Then the boat left the port. Turns out, it was possible.

After a few hours on the boat, I came to the conclusion that if I really wanted to bone I would either have to drastically lower my standards, ruin a marriage, or both. I checked the ship's list of daily activities. At 7 PM, there was a "meet and greet" for singles at a bar called Crooner's. I decided to check it out, with none of my initial optimism intact. When I showed up to Crooner's, I saw a small group of much older people sitting around a table and chatting. There was only one man, surrounded by five or six women. This was absurd, and yet, I knew right away that even if I wanted to, I couldn't compete with those ladies—they were surely more eager to have sex with him than I was. They could probably listen him talk for hours about 401ks, back pain, Frank Sinatra, or whatever the hell it is older people talk about. They probably even laughed at all his horrible jokes, or worse, genuinely found them funny. I am not ready to be this person.

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I left Crooner's and wandered over to another part of the ship called the Explorer's Lounge. It was there that my faith had been restored: I saw the Imperial Ostriches—a live band, comprised of one female singer and three men who looked around my age. (I've changed the band's name to save them some embarrassment, but it was something just as stupid.) The fact that they called themselves the Imperial Ostriches was immediately forgiven. The fact that they only played cover songs, most of which were horrible disco tracks, was also forgiven. The fact that they looked like extras from a Maroon 5 music video—it didn't matter. They were the only three men on this ship who were not alive when Kennedy was shot, and that was more than enough to get me going. I figured that an attempt to approach them right away would seem desperate, so I decided to play it cool and wait until the next day to offer them my body.

On day two of the cruise, I checked the newly published list of activities and took note that my new favorite band was playing at 11 PM, again at the Explorer's Lounge. It was their CBGB. The day leading up to the show consisted mostly of me eating an egregious amount of pizza and shrimp, attending trivia events, chugging seven glasses of free champagne during the "Captain's Welcome," and watching a disco-themed dance show called "Blame It on the Boogie." Say what you want about cruise ships, but I was there to make the most of it.

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Not once did I interact with someone who wasn't Megan, except for when a woman accused us of cheating during the disco trivia, and I indignantly responded that we did not. (We did. Sorry.)

When 11 PM rolled around, I had mostly sobered up and headed to the Explorer's Lounge. The only other people present were three couples dancing to "Jolene." It was pretty miserable sitting there and staring at people who were genuinely in love, so I walked to the room next door called Club Fusion to watch karaoke and drink a "Beverly Hills Ice Tea"—a mixture of Grey Goose, Bacardi, Bombay Sapphire, tequila, sparkling wine, and two or three more things that I didn't bother to memorize. It tasted like melted chalk and was jam-packed with sugary liquid, which was probably added in an attempt to mask the chalk taste. This drink quickly became my favorite, though, because it got me drunk fast. I figured the Ostriches would be done by midnight, and I could head on over as they were packing up their instruments. My plan was to very casually offer my pizza, shrimp, and alcohol-filled body to whichever one of them wanted it.

Believe it or not, I was having so much fun watching karaoke that I lost track of time. Around 12:30, I left Club Fusion and went back to the Explorer's Lounge to see if my Ostriches were still there. They were gone.

I had one last bastion of hope left, and that was to go to the so-called nightclub, Skywalker's. Where else would the Ostriches go to unwind after a rough night of telling multiple men in Tommy Bahama shirts that they don't know any Jimmy Buffett songs? I got to Skywalker's and was, yet again, severely disappointed. A sad DJ played the same sad songs he had been sadly playing all day by the sad pool (we heard "Mambo No. 5" multiple times on this trip). A handful of people happily danced. The Ostriches were not in sight.

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I stumbled back to my room that night, unsure if I was too drunk or just suffering the consequences of being on a moving boat. I thought a little harder about these Imperial Ostriches and my plan, which was admittedly vague. As if I really could just walk up to one of them and say, "Let's sex." That's not me. I've never approached a man in my life. I don't make a move unless I am confident that that person is interested in me, which rarely happens because I am almost never good at gauging that sort of thing.

Then there were the actual logistics. I was sharing a room, and I'm sure the Ostriches were too, because everyone on cruise ships shares a room. They might have even been sharing a bed, for all I know. Where the hell were we supposed to hook up—a public bathroom? A dark corner of Skywalker's? I fell asleep that night knowing my erotic cruise-ship fantasy was completely hopeless. There were too many elements working against me, including the pounds of shrimp I inhaled that were making me feel exceptionally bloated.

On the third and final day of the cruise, we finally arrived in Ensenada. Megan and I walked around for two hours, each bought a blanket, then went back to the ship to eat more food, play more trivia, and watch My Big Fat Greek Wedding in our stateroom. I briefly saw the Imperial Ostriches play one last time at the Explorer's Lounge, but I was over them by that point. I opted instead to watch a comedy magician perform to a nearly sold-out crowd and thankfully, I had no intention of having sex with him either.

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