Cruising In Rim Country

AROUND THE RIM COUNTRY

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I don't understand the current popularity of cruises.

One of the least pleasant vacations I've ever taken was a Caribbean cruise, the most dominant memories from which are the overpowering smell of sun tan lotion on 2,000 bodies, a fire drill that was so ineptly organized that we would have all perished had it been a real emergency, and the inability to walk normally for days after the cruise was over.

Throw in the mysterious ailments that have been striking large numbers of people on cruise ships recently and I'd just as soon visit the dentist.

That's why I was surprised to read in the Orlando Sentinel that the popularity of cruises is at an all-time peak. And you are no longer limited to the Caribbean, Mexico, Alaska or other "location/destination" cruises.

In fact, the hottest new thing is theme cruises -- "tailor-made to your tastes" to "ensure that even if you aren't wild about the ship, at least you have something to focus on that floats your boat."

Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, features cruises with various sports themes. Holland America offers music themes and wine festival cruises.

And if there's a wine cruise, you know there has to be a beer cruise. All About Beer magazine sponsors the Brew Cruise, complete with regional beers, tastings and lectures.

Some cruise lines offer astronomy cruises, including lectures by "prominent cosmic experts." Windstar even offered an ice cream cruise, with Ben and Jerry aboard.

Moving on to the ridiculous, a Musical Theater cruise featuring Broadway productions debuts later this year, and a Murder-Mystery cruise that "dabbles in foul play" also is available.

In the category of the absurd are the Psychic & Spiritual Healing Cruise which "invites the bereaved to come to terms with their grief and explore metaphysical realms with psychics, mediums and grief/empowerment experts," and a real-life cloak-and-dagger cruise called Denial, Deception and Illusion, during which retired CIA, FBI and KGB agents reveal their secrets.

With cruises becoming more and more specialized, it's only a matter of time before a separate group of cruises will be offered to residents of the Rim country. They could include:

Rimaroo Cruise

Your basic, generic Rim country cruise, this one comes complete with all the sights and sounds of home, including a crew that sports beer bellies and wears Payson Concrete & Materials caps and recordings of old Trades and Sales programs played over the PA system.

Elk Hunters Cruise

Those of us who don't hunt elk wonder just how difficult it is to bag one of these creatures when they spend most of their time hanging out in your back yard. Since they can't run away when they're on a cruise ship, the Elk Hunter Cruise makes it that much easier to get your elk.

Waterless Cruise

With another 15-years-or-so of drought ahead, the Rim country is learning how to live without water. One advantage to a cruise that never leaves dry dock: you don't get seasick.

Really Slow Cruise

Designed to simulate a drive down Tyler Parkway, this cruise crawls along for a couple hundred feet then turns and steams back into port -- at less than 25 knots per hour.

Reverse Cruise

Some people say time stands still in Payson, others say it actually goes backward -- and, by golly, we like it that way. Take the Reverse Cruise and see where you've been.

Bad Road Cruise

This ship intentionally heads for the choppiest waters around to simulate road conditions on McLane, Manzanita and Payson's other fine streets.

Biscuits ‘N Gravy Cruise

Breakfast, lunch, dinner (or, as we like to say up here, supper), the menu is always the same on this cruise. And wait until you see those biscuits and gravy ice carvings. First class all the way.

Rumor Cruise

On this cruise, a story is started on one end of the boat and then passed to the other end by word of mouth. Of course it's totally unrecognizable when it gets there.

Limited Shopping Cruise

This boat stops only at ports where there are Wal-Mart Supercenters and/or Walgreens Drug Stores.

El Camino Cruise

This custom cruise ship is part boat, part truck and all redneck. Grab your chew, climb aboard and hang on.

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