Cruise Log


Maestro Lorin Maazel’s father was born in New York in 1903 to immigrant parents from Russia. He was born on Lincoln’s birthday. His name was Lincoln Maazel. He died two years ago at 106.

So American, so wonderfully American.

This is wonderful too: I hear David P-J talk to a local cricketer about cricket — its rules, its history, its leading personalities. When I discover the subject that P-J doesn’t know a lot about, I’ll let you know.

Baseball, maybe?

The pelicans are diving their heinies off at Magens Bay, Saint Thomas. They hit the water like torpedoes, bam. Seems like it ought to hurt!

As I swim among them, I’m sort of afraid they’ll mistake me for prey. To be collided with by a pelican would be . . . uncomfortable.

In any event, I’d pay good money to see pelicans go about their hunting. Too bad for the fish, sure, but what an exciting show.

On the beach, a young woman has a book — my 2007 collection. Big, hardcover clunker of a thing. Looks totally out of place on a beach. She says, “I tried to trade it in for a Mark Steyn book, but they wouldn’t let me.”

In a little food shack and bar, well off the beaten track, I listen to some men who are drinking. Caribbean English: one of the world’s more pleasant tongues.

On the side of a truck, I read, “Blinds and T’ings, Windows & Floor Coverings, Commercial & Residential.”


In the shack, I order a big, lovely fish — lots of bones. As I’m preparing to go, one of the women says, “Oh, no, baby, there’s a lot of meat still left.” She proceeds to take my fork and knife and build a little pile of meat for me.

I’m full, but of course I eat it. The ladies and I blow kisses goodbye.

Funny that we now make a separation of fish and meat. Jesus says to his fishing disciples (in King James), “Children, have ye any meat?”

Not far from the shack is the St. Thomas Dairy, and its accompanying ice-cream parlor, Udder Delite. It is. The chocolate-and-coconut milkshake — surely one of the best things that have ever passed through my lips.

On the ship, I attend the Filipino Crew Show, fairly late at night. They sing various songs and dance various dances — all of a national character. In everything they do, they’re perfectly sincere, which counts for a lot. They also have a lot of fun — which counts too, for their fun is infectious.

They sing their national anthem, and wave their flag. I find myself moved by this. They’re far from home, and they obviously love their country.

You know what I mean, I trust, when I say that other people’s anthems, and other people’s patriotism, can be moving. Everyone recognizes the impulse. There is patriotic love — “true patriot love,” as one anthem says — the same as there are other kinds of love.

Of course, patriotism, nationalism, anthems, all that — it can be quite sinister. Depends, right?

I recall WFB (as I always do): “I’m as patriotic as anyone from sea to shining sea, but there’s not a molecule of nationalism in me.”

Thank heaven.

Among our passengers are many Texans, and I’m pleased to discover that, by and large, they know about Ted Cruz. And are heartily backing his run for the Senate. As George Will says, Ted’s as good as it gets, a Reaganite dream. To have him in the Senate would be a tonic to us all.

At dinner one night, the husband of a couple says, lovingly, “We haven’t agreed on anything since we said ‘I do.’” He goes on to say, “It took us till our children were in high school to settle on names for them.”

Mona Charen’s companion is one of the three sons she has with her husband, Bob. He is 15-year-old Ben — and he wows the entire ship. Some passengers say to Mona, “Does he write your columns for you?” The most gratifying thing is that Ben is actually as nice as he is smart.

One afternoon, Mona is introduced on a panel. The first person in the entire auditorium to clap is her son. Every mother should have such a child, no?

Often, I ask people how they got to be conservative, or right-of-center. Often, they say, “I found Rush Limbaugh. I listened to Rush Limbaugh.” I wonder whether conservatives in the political class know how much we owe to Rush. I wonder.

Our Charlie Cooke is aboard, and, as I have written before, he is “Sir Charles” to me. He doesn’t much like this, being more American than most of us who have been in the U.S. for a very long time. He grew up in Cambridge and went to Oxford. He toured for a while as a rock musician (if “rock” is the word — I’m never sure). In one of our sessions, I ask him to explain to the audience what he likes about America. He does so, brilliantly. I can almost hear the audience sigh with appreciation.

Then many mothers and grandmothers ask to adopt him.

There is an equal number of adoption requests for Bob Costa.

I hate to break it to the conservative cruising public, but both of these guys have parents.

Back in my cabin one night — sorry, “stateroom” — I notice that someone — a steward — has scrunched my toothpaste up. Has pushed all the paste near the top, making the upper portion nice and plump.

Now, that’s service. Makes the “turndown” seem ordinary.

The president and CEO of Holland America, our cruise line? Stein Kruse. Which any English-speaker would pronounce . . . well, you know . . .

I could go on, y’all, but you have turkeys to baste and cranberry sauce to prepare. Have a wonderful week, and I’ll see you in December — certainly before Christmas.

We can still say “Christmas,” right? Has the Wise Latina made a ruling lately? Has Michelle put the kibosh on figgy pudding?

I’d better stop before the rant juices get the better of me. See you!