Tuesday, April 10, 2007

The Cruise - Part Four

”A balconette?” I said as I watched Rachel’s pleasant smile morph into an apoplectic glower. “But the brochure we received from the travel agent explicitly called out a balcony. And, P.S. - What the hell is a balconette?!?” Rachel lowered her eyes toward the counter as if trying to remember her 40 minute training session on how to nullify a disgruntled cruiser. Then, quite suddenly, her smile returned. “Yes Mr. Jordan, the brochures are incorrect; printed two years ago before we changed ships for this route. I’m terribly sorry that the travel agent mislead you. Our website has all of the latest information on our ships and rooms. A balconette is simply the term we use to describe our upgraded bay window. Most rooms on your floor offer only a porthole. Now, if you’d like, I’d be happy to show you how to find our website online.” I paused, gathered my thoughts, tried suppressing my rage by finding a happy place – nothing. Rachel was no longer pretty, no longer alluring. Even her dimples had no affect on me anymore. She meant less than nothing to me, and the poor girl didn’t even know it yet.

“Look, Rachel, first of all, Today is Friday, and I wasn’t born on a Thursday – you follow? Calling a window a balconette is like calling an AMC Pacer a Limosenette simply because it has big windows. Very misleading.Secondly, my wife and I booked this cruise with the expectations of having a balcony, and there’s no way that I am going downstairs to tell her that the porta-potty of a cabin you issued us is the one we are going to spend five glorious nights in. And do you know why we are not going to spend five glorious nights in that tin can?” I took a breath and watched Rachel fumble for the alarm button under the counter. “Because my darling wife of eight years, with whom I’m celebrating our anniversary at the Captain’s table tomorrow evening, just got promoted to Senior Editor of an internet travel review site called TripAdvisor.com. You may want to become familiar with this site as roughly 90 percent of the passengers on board who used the internet to research their cruise used TripAdvisor. Now, if you’d like, I’d be happy to show you how to find it online.”

I’m not sure when they arrived; sometime during my tirade, I’m sure, but there were two gentlemen in suits standing behind me, listening to my every word. Rachel, who, at this point, stood at least two feet back from the counter, looked at me and nodded toward them. “These gentlemen might be better suited to handle your difficulty, Mr. Jordan.” I turned, but before I could speak, the taller of the two suits presented his hand and introduced himself. “Hello Mr. Jordan I’m Victor Caldera, the Senior Director of Customer Service on this ship, and this is Mr. Phelps, the Sales and Marketing Director. Rachel, bless her heart, should have directed you to me in the first place, as she is really in charge of looking after people’s valuables on the ship. But, as you can see, the line for the Cruise Service desk is much longer, and by speaking with Rachel first, you avoided such a wait.” Victor chuckled, and waved his hand across the foyer to a long line switch-backing between velvet ropes in front of another counter. “Oh. . .” I turned back toward Rachel. “Sorry about that.” She smiled again, more tentatively this time – no dimples. “Now let’s go check out your room, ehe?” I lead the two suits down into the bowels of the ship, showed them our room, the brochure, and introduced them to Ema to whom they congratulated, and apologized profusely.

Ema was bewildered and impressed by how much power her dear husband yielded. She had no idea why she was being congratulated, but wend along with the act like a trooper. It wasn’t until we were unpacking our suitcases in our spacious, luxurious suite on the Promenade deck, that I finally told her the whole story. She was still impressed, even considering the lie; and somehow, some way, this extravagant trip suddenly seemed worth every cent.

The End