How Ship Life is Like Dirty Dancing

Last night Kiki and I decided to drink a bottle of wine and watch one of the greatest movies of all time – Dirty Dancing.

As I was watching I kept noticing sharp similarities between the world at Kellerman’s and the cruise ship bubble. I have watched “The Love Boat” and documentaries claiming to “expose what the cruise ship companies don’t want you to know!” and honestly, they don’t capture the real nature of ship life. Nothing really does. But Dirty Dancing comes close. Let’s explore:

An obvious caste system.

There is a hierarchy at Kellerman’s much like on the ship. It’s not just guests and crew, but a hierarchy within the crew. Poor, wrong-side-of-the-tracks Johnny Castle falls to the bottom. It’s ok. I don’t mind him on bottom.

Kellerman's Hierarchy Chart
Kellerman’s Hierarchy Chart

Simple dance classes full of geriatrics.

Let’s learn the one-two-cha-cha-cha and pray they don’t break anything. As someone who has been forced to film these lessons, it always makes me laugh to watch professionally trained dancers teach the waltz to someone wearing flip-flops and socks.

Awful, awful, awful dad jokes.

Whether it’s the wretchedly annoying activities counselor Stan at Kellerman’s, or your oh-so-clever Cruise Director, there’s no shortage of the most groan-worthy jokes you’ve ever heard. Some are so bad that don’t even deserve to be called “Dad jokes.” My father would never.

No. Stop it now.
No. Stop it now.


Special entertainment.

On that same token, if you’re a lover of magic, ventriloquism, juggling or any combination of those horrible things, you’re in luck. I’m sorry to the many guest entertainers I’ve met, but God I can’t.


Those poor young people.

There is always one or two early 20-somethings who got dragged on an Alaskan cruise with their grandparents and are doing all they can to get you to sneak them into crew bar. I’m sorry, but unlike Baby, I will not let you carry a watermelon in so you can grind on the hottest guy on the crew. I feel bad for you, but not that bad…

Doesn't this look like just every 18 year old's dream?
Doesn’t this look like just every 18 year old’s dream?

Being left stranded.

We all remember that first hot scene where Johnny shows Baby how to grind on the dance floor. We also remember how he then sprinted and left her high and maybe not so dry. As Kiki put it, “he humps and dumps.” To which I responded, “Just like a ship guy!”
BabyDancing


But really, though.

Remember how Robby, the creep, knocked up poor Penny the dancer and refused to help her or acknowledge that they were ever together? Hate to tell you, but that happens, too.


Shitty places to live.

We have clearly established that crew have crap cabins, except for the bridge folk. Don’t talk to me, bridge people. Now Johnny may have an expansive cabin with way more room than any ship worker could ever imagine, but he has no windows. Like literally.

Cabin copy


The worst end of season/voyage shows.

At Kellerman’s it was a guest talent show. On ships (at least mine anyway) it was a crew talent show followed by what we call “walk-downs.” Any way you look at it, it’s overly sentimental, cheesy as hell and something the staff seriously dreads.
End of Voyage Show

Zero tolerance for fraternization.

Johnny slept with Baby so they fired him. Pretty standard. I never knew anyone who got caught with a guest and lived to tell the tale. Doesn’t mean it didn’t happen. A lot.


Aaaaaaaaand of course I saved the best for last – CREW AREA!

Y’all watch this and tell me it doesn’t conjure up old memories of the crew bar. Granted there would be less soul music and more reggaetone, but it’s pretty accurate. They even got the token black couple. Ok, ok, the diversity is the only difference here. I know. This room is packed with Jersey, where ours was sprinkled with the world’s nations. Only difference though.

Really y’all, if you’re feeling nostalgic and haven’t watched Dirty Dancing in a while, pop it in the DVD player and do your own comparisons. If nothing else, Patrick Swayze’s hip thrusts deserve an evening with you and a bottle of wine. Even you gentlemen, take notes. Your ladies will thank you.

ending photo

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One thought on “How Ship Life is Like Dirty Dancing

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  1. I have thought that so many times!!! Glad I’m not crazy and other people see it too! Especially the bit about the awkward talent show at the end of the season and the dance classes.

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