Where am I again? – On a cruise ship, good signage is a treasure.

Monday Mantra

Get Lost…Get Lost…Get Lost…

Where am I again?

On a cruise ship, good signage is a treasure.

I believe that there’s a special place in hell reserved for cruise ship interior designers who fail to place a prominent plaque or video monitor showing the direction of all public rooms on a given deck on each staircase landing aboard a ship. When I’m looking for the Cha-Cha Lounge and I’ve walked the four-football-field length of three different decks in stiletto heels trying to find it, I don’t want to later discover a discreet sign in elegant calligraphy hidden halfway down a quiet corridor of passenger cabins.

On land or at sea, I have a lousy sense of direction. Why can’t someone invent a little GPS thing that I can clip on to my belt so I can find my way around some of the more mega of cruise ships? It could chirp “Nope! Dining room blocking the way if you go down that staircase! Drag your fat butt up to Deck 8, cross over, and take the staircase down at the other end to get to the casino on Deck 6” and save me a lot of trouble.

Unless I constantly refer to the pocket-sized deck plan that’s available in my cabin on embarkation day (something I misplace almost immediately), I need signage. BIG, in-your-face signage. Some ships offer little “hints” as to direction. Norwegian Cruise Line, for example, offers a whimsical carpet pattern that features little fish swimming forward. Always forward. Unfortunately, Norwegian, for people as hopeless as I am, you’d need to ditch the fish and incorporate something like the words BLISS LOUNGE and a big arrow into the weave, for that approach to be useful.

I never realized how poor my sense of direction was until my first trip to London in 1983. Until then, I had never ventured too far from midtown Manhattan where the streets are numbered and, since I’m really good at counting, I simply know that 50th Street comes right after 49th. When I hit London and saw the maze of its layout, the little alleyways and passages, I knew that it was important that I choose a strong landmark that would immediately allow me to locate my hotel.

That big neon sign — “WHITBREAD” — in a window at the end of the street would do nicely, I thought. It wasn’t until I was lost that I realized that “WHITBREAD” was the English equivalent of “BUDWEISER,” the window near my hotel was a pub, and those signs were everywhere.

Getting lost, at sea or on land, can be an adventure leading us to discover little hidden jewels that we might never have stumbled across otherwise. Or, in my experience, it can drive you barking mad.

— Judi Cuervo

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Judi Cuervo is a New York City native who fell in love with cruising in 1976 during her first sailing aboard Carnival Cruises’ Mardi Gras. Twenty years later, she began her freelance cruise writing gig and, since that time, has covered mass market, ultra-premium, riverboat and expedition ships for regional, national and international publications as well as cruise websites.