“Christopher Columbus turns to the first mate and he says, ‘Weigh anchor.’ About ten minutes later the guy says “seven thousand four hundred and eighty two pounds.”
Over the last several years, we have utilized cruise ships to transport us to the beginning or to an ending of a journey. Dublin will join Civitavecchia, Whittier, Santiago, Cherbourg, Southampton, Singapore, Tampa, and Fort Lauderdale as ports we disembarked after a one way voyage.
A decade ago, when members of the Thielking crime syndicate, we departed from Fort Lauderdale on a two week cruise. After a week on the ship, the Westerdam, we returned making a port call. Armed with the knowledge of our US Customs limitations on bring ashore duty free alcohol, Dick and I hatched a cunning plan. We would escort our two liters of contraband back to our vehicle, return to the ship, and repeat the following week. Rinse and repeat, a successful shampoo marketing strategy for decades.
Most of our fellow passengers ended their cruise after the first week. Using the women as decoys, we sent them ahead, discretely mixed with other passengers. Knowing Lois’ history with the federal authorities, we figured she would distract them for hours. They cleared Customs without incident, we did not. Brazenly flaunting our legally permitted bounty, we were immediately detained and thrown into a holding cell. If you are a Democrat, the holding cell looked very much like a cage, with its chain link fencing. If you are a Republican, you would probably consider it a three star hotel.
For nearly an hour, we sat with other hardened criminals, lamenting our decision to enlist into a life of crime. Surveying the other criminals in the detention facility, we pondered our fate. One particularly dangerous looking detainee, had the audacity to use his port call to attempt to launder his clothing, or so he claimed.
As time passed, we noticed a security flaw in the detention facility. While our diligent federal authorities continued to escort criminals into the cage, they failed to secure the exit. We stood, meandered to the exit, and discretely shuffled to freedom. Our daring escape would have impressed Harry Houdini, perhaps even Roger Bartlett, Big X himself. To this day, whenever we transit Fort Lauderdale, I fear my photograph is posted on a law enforcement bulletin board with other smugglers, launderers, rapists, and murderers.
Our ship, the seven year old Celebrity Reflection, holds about 3,000 passengers. She will take fourteen days to reach Dublin. We sailed to Italy on her two years ago. The boarding process, which can be brutally long, only took thirty minutes. While they delayed her departure from five to seven, we do not believe the US Customs were actively searching for me.