Welcome aboard Babe Thruster’s Hash Cruise! This guide will be revised from time to time as new questions arise.
Disclaimer: This guide was written for a different cruise line. I have tried to edit it to apply to the current cruise but some information may still be inaccurate.
Item#1 (in all of our hearts and livers) is….. **Note: The open bar program replaces the advice below** Drinking- First and foremost, you must realize that we are going to places where beer may be expensive and liquor is cheap (and portable). Now, I’m addressing hashers like myself who are financially challenged. Hashers with an abundance of wealth can skip this section and compete for the honor of the highest bar tab at the end of the cruise if they want to. For the rest of us, it’s like this.
As a seller of Carnival cruises, I must first point out that bringing alcohol on board is against the rules. I know I have nothing to worry about with this group because hashers are known for following rules. But I must warn you. You may encounter other people who may break this rule. For educational purposes only, here’s what I’ve heard less honorable travel agents have actually advised:
All alcohol on board the ship is sold at typical bar prices. There are a few exceptions such as the free champagne and fufu cocktails at the captain’s cocktail party and past guest party which we certainly will attend. A free drink is a free drink. So to avoid a hefty bar tab, bring your own. You can bring beer if you want to, but it’s heavy and needs to be kept on ice. There are no refrigerators in the cabin, but your cheerful cabin steward will bring ice to your cabin upon request. It is much easier to bring liquor on board. You’re in the tropics (sort of) so just get into that Jimmy Buffett rum drinks mind set. You’ll want to carefully pack the liquor in one of your bags that you are checking to you cabin. Your carry-ons will be scanned by security before boarding and any liquor found will not be allowed through. I have never heard of anyone being turned in by their cabin steward for having liquor in their cabin (they would rather have their tip at the end of the cruise). So don’t worry about hiding the bottles in the cabin too much.
Mixers are also bulky and heavy. I recommend taking maybe a two liter bottle (at the most) of your favorite mixer in your luggage. Then just pack several packages of Crystal Light lemonade (or other powdered mix) and make up your mixer as you need it in the bottle.
So now you can mix drinks in your cabin at your leisure. Remember to keep any liquor bottles hidden from security when walking around the ship or risk having it taken away until the end of the cruise. Some beer will be provided at the end of the hash but you will need to bring money for the bar if you want to continue partying on the beach. More on the hash later.
On a related note, cheap tax-free liquor is available for purchase on the ship. Most everyone will be buying it because it tends to be quite a bit cheaper than your local liquor store (check your prices before you leave to compare and remember that the ship sells it’s liquor in 1 liter bottles mostly). As you might have guessed, you cannot take this liquor back to the cabin with you. It will be brought to your cabin on the last night of the cruise.
Just be prepared to haul a couple of bottles around with you on your return trip home. If you have long flight connections you may question yourself if the savings was worth the sore shoulders by the time you get home. It’s best to carefully pack this in your luggage, replacing what you drank on the cruise. You are supposed to pay taxes on anything over two bottles purchased, but you can usually get by with packing a couple of bottles and then hand-carrying off the two bottles you declared on your customs form. If you don’t want to risk being caught smuggling liquor into the country, you can go ahead and claim all the liquor you’ve purchased and pay the taxes on it. I think it’s around 10% but still much cheaper than local US prices.
There will also be good prices on liquor in Mexico (although the ship prices are usually slightly lower). You can attempt to buy liquor in Mexico but be warned that the security guards will be on the lookout when you board the ship. So hide it well wrapped up in your towel or whatever. If they find it, they will insist on holding it until the end of the cruise. You can’t always count on having cool security guards like we did on the last Nassau hash cruise that let us bring a large garbage bag of leftover hash beer on the ship with us.
Eating – One thing is for sure on a cruise. You will never go hungry. You’ll have your choice of seated breakfast and lunches (if you enjoy being served) or just hitting a buffet (if you want it quick). We will have dinner in the dining room every night as a group. If you don’t want to dress up, there will be a buffet available elsewhere. There is also 24 hour pizza and (free) room service available offering basic sandwiches and stuff. At dinner, remember that you can order as much of anything as you want. Can’t decide between steak and lobster? Order both. As the old cruise joke goes, you board the ship as passengers and leave as cargo.
Dressing – It’s pretty much casual stuff all day plus whatever you want to hash in. There will be one formal dinner that will require coat and tie/cocktail dress in the dining room and Captain’s cocktail party if you want to attend. Otherwise, it’s just no shorts, jeans or T-shirts in the dining room. Costume theme nights are a possibility. As per hash cruise tradition, no underwear is allowed at dinner. Which brings us to….
Packing – During the day it’ll be your basic poolside casual. There will be one or two hash run (walk) where you may (or may not) want to bring running clothes. It may be cool when we leave or get back to Ft. Lauderdale, so toss in a sweatshirt or jacket. For formal night, khakis, tie and blazer or suit or tux. Whatever floats your boat. Cocktail dress or the like for the hariettes. Other nights, just wear whatever you would for a night out on the town. Hawaiian shirt for the first night and, of course, the red dress for the final night’s pub crawl and dinner. Guys, don’t forget to bring some type of wrap if you have a sexy, sleeveless dress. We don’t want to see any hairy armpits at dinner. Other than that, just your basic fun beach stuff (hats, sunscreen, sunglasses, book), you hash mug or sipper cup (large sized to avoid cabin trip refills), a lanyard for your beverage card, camera (with hasher discretion), cash (or traveler’s checks) and/or a big credit limit on your card. Have I mentioned passports or birth certificates yet? There is no coin laundry but laundry service is available for a fee. Also, see the drinking section about packing beverages.
Tipping- The cruise line will charge set tips to your charge account. But feel free to adjust the amounts if service is deserving.
General Partying – Although the ships are all about fun, they still manage to attract civilians who are not much fun, go to bed early and complain to security for the stupidest reasons. So please adhere to some guidelines to keep out of trouble, the brig, and walking the plank. For the most part, it’s the same stuff you’d expect if we were staying in a hotel. Cabin parties usually form when a few people go down to their cabin to mix a drink and someone else stops by and so on. Still there may be a family down the hall that won’t really enjoy hearing the “S&M Man” song at 3:00 in the morning. Cabin parties towards the center of the ship must be kept reasonably quiet. Otherwise, someone might call Mr. Security who will make us to take the party upstairs in the lounges (which is where all the entertainment is anyway). Try to avoid yelling in the hallways at night. Bottom line: If you want to have a party, the best bet is to take it up on deck or one of the lounges upstairs.
Getting there – For those flying in the day of the cruise, there will have bus transfers available to the pier for $23 each way (last time I checked). You can purchase this from a Cruise line rep located somewhere in the bag claim area. You can also check with Super Shuttle or a cab which may be cheaper and quicker if you’re traveling with others. Transfers from the pier to the airport can be purchased at any time on the cruise from the purser’s desk.
Checking in – Yet another reminder: Don’t forget your passport or certified birth certificate and photo ID! When you pull in to the terminal area, you will see the places where you drop of your checked bags. Just make sure you have the bag tags on them with your cabin number. There will also be porters there to assist, so be ready to tip ‘em a buck a bag if you want to. They will have luggage tags and a rooming list for those that don’t know their cabin assignments yet. Your bags will later appear outside your cabin door. Since it may be a couple of hours before your bags are delivered, be sure to pack any medications, swimsuits, sex toys, etc. in your carry-on that you may want or need shortly after you get on the ship.
Spending Money – When you check in, you will set up your “Sign & Sail” account. This is usually done with a credit card but you can also set it up with a cash deposit. The only drawback to the cash system is that you will have to stand in line at the end of the cruise to settle your account whereas, if everything is correct on your bill, the credit card is simply charged for the final amount. The only place on the ship you will ever need cash is in the casino. Everything else including drinks, shore excursions, shopping, massages, etc. will be charged to your account. On the last night of the cruise, you will get a statement showing all of your charges. There will be an ATM on board if you need it. It’s not a bad idea to carry traveler’s checks around the ports of call instead of cash. The Dreaded Lifeboat Drill – This is the biggest pain in the ass but the Coast Guard requires it. Just so you’ll know, sometime before we leave port, we will all have to go to our cabins, put on these oversized, bulky neck braces they call life vests and report to our muster stations. They won’t even let you take your drink with you (although you can try). Then you sit around for a while losing your buzz while someone does a roll call. Perhaps to make this all more bearable, we should all do a good shooter at the sound of the alarm.
Onboard fun – Each evening, you’ll get a program of the next day’s activities and shows. You’re on vacation so do whatever you want. Chances are, there will be other hashers there doing the same. I recommend going to the shows. Particularly the ones with the skimpy, sexy costumes (which is why I like to sit close to the stage). Also, the late-night comedians are a good bet. In fact, the late-night on-board hash will probably be scheduled to allow us to go to this show. Also, look for hashers throwing wrenches in the works of other games and contests throughout the cruise.
Leaving – The last day can be tough due to your hangover and lack of sleep so be prepared. On our last night, you will get some bag tags and custom forms in your cabin. Go ahead and fill out the customs form so you won’t have to do it the next morning. You will pack all your checked bags on the last night and leave them outside the door to be picked up by the porters. Make sure that you keep some clothes for the next morning so you don’t have to walk off your ship in your sleepwear (which is particularly embarrassing for those of us who don’t bother with sleepwear). Make sure your carry-on (carry-off?) bags will fit everything still left in you cabin.
On Disembarkation morning, there will be a breakfast for those able to get up in time for it. You will hear announcements asking you to vacate your cabin and go hang out in one of the public areas. Ignore this if you want. There will be plenty of civilians that will actually do this giving the staff plenty of other cabins to clean before they start pressuring you to leave so don’t feel rushed. Do not wait in the halls with the rest of the cattle waiting for disembarkation to start unless you enjoy crowds and boredom. Hang in your cabin or head up to the pool and lounge in the morning sun if you want. Relax and read a book or play cards. When your number bag tag is called, wait a few minutes for the mob to clear before heading for the door.
Most of all, have fun. If you have any questions or concerns on board, ask a staff member. Don’t bother finding me, I’ll be on vacation and don’t want to hear any whining about lost cameras, sunburn, or cabinmates that monopolize the bathroom. -Babe Thruster