Caribbean Cruise

Copyright © 2005

By Lee Mariner

This story is about gay men and will contain homosexual acts that some may find offensive.  If you are not of legal age, in your locality, and you do find this type of material offensive, please leave.

All events, names, and places are fictional and there is no intended relationship between the events of this story and/or any person or place.

This story has been edited by my friend, Dean, and I am grateful for his assistance. 

This story is copyrighted © by the author and it is not to be reproduced in any form or posted on any web site without the specific written consent of the author.  It is assigned to the Nifty Archives under the terms of their submission guidelines for posting.

All stories I have written can be found in the Nifty Archives listing of Prolific Author's or by following:


Readers wishing to be notified of postings to this or any other story, may contact me at:


Chapter #1

The East Coast from New England to Florida was covered with dark clouds and heavy intermittent rain showers; but the gleaming white hull of the "Queen of the Seas" towered over it's fun seeking passengers, promising excitement and adventure.  The excitement was infectious, but an occasional flash of lightening followed by rolling thunder caused some fun seekers to cringe and glance anxiously up at the sullen skies.  I must admit that I'm not fond of storms; but I had been planning my mini vacation for some months now, ever since shortly after the nasty break-up of my relationship with Geoff; and I wasn't about to let Mother Nature interfere.

Calypso music was blaring from the public address speakers in an attempt to distract passengers from the slow movement of the security lines.  There was a single wide aisle that had been cordoned off with retractable web belts to form two lanes.  People were carrying or pulling luggage of every possible description toward a central area where four metal detectors were located.  Some people may have considered it organized mass confusion, but I couldn't help thinking that whoever was in charge of security had to be a mentally deficient optimist to think that three thousand passengers could be expected to filter through only four metal detectors and be on board by the published sailing time of four o'clock this afternoon.

"Oh well, Caine, there isn't much you can do about bureaucracy except buckle up and go with the flow," I said to myself.  I was struggling to maintain a modicum of composure while suffering the inane chatter of adolescent girls and boys, all of whom seemed to be bent on talking at the same time without pause for breath.  As if that were not enough, the incessant squalling of children whom parents seemed wont to bring with them on a shipboard vacation was threatening to overload my nervous system. 

My dark mood was not improved by the security guards' insisting on using a detection wand before and after I had walked through the detection grid gateway and then by having to wait for my luggage to pass a perfunctory inspection even after it had passed through the x-ray machine.   "At this rate, we will never sail this afternoon," I grumbled under my breath.

"Oh yes, we will, Sir.  We will have you on board, and underway before you know it," some pimply faced kid wearing an oversized security guard uniform said in an attempt to make me feel better but with only marginal success.

"I wouldn't make book on it," I growled as he walked away full of his own self-importance.


Getting through the check-in area after the security check was a breeze compared to the chaos I had just gone through.  Several tables had been set up inside a large, obviously temporary, building while a permanent terminal was under construction.  There were two women at each table checking tickets and identification against a master list and giving each adult passenger a magnetic card that served as a key to their stateroom.  Since cash was not used on board except in the casino, the card also served as a shipboard credit card that would debit any purchases directly to whatever credit card company or bank that was used.

The weather hadn't improved during the time I was checking in; and there was a mob of people milling around at the foot of the twin gangways all trying to get themselves, their luggage and, in many cases, their excited children onboard at the same time.

Two large doors in the side of the ship had been opened, and wide double gangways had been laid between the ship and the dock.   The ship's security personnel and the ship's photographers were at the end of the gangways taking pictures of passengers as they came on board.  The photographs were taken for identification purposes to insure that only passengers that went ashore in ports, that were scheduled for short stop overs, returned.  As passengers stepped off of the gangway they were informed by the photographers that those pictures, and subsequent pictures taken by roving ship board photographers would be available in the ship's photo shop for purchase as mementos of the cruise. 

There were several young men and women milling around in a large open area just beyond the security check point.   As soon as pictures had been taken and tickets with stateroom numbers were verified, these young people would offer their assistance with luggage and offer to escort passengers to their staterooms. 

After my picture had been taken and my ticket verified, I stepped to the side of the gangway with my rollaway luggage to get my bearings.  Groups of passengers,  some holding impatient children's hands or being overly protective of their luggage, were trying to talk with crew members, several of whom seemed to speak fairly understandable English.  

On a far wall of the compartment we were in, there was a sign with an arrow pointing to the left that read "passenger staterooms."  I had shifted the handle of my suitcase into my left hand, intent on making my way through the milling mob of people and crew members, when I felt fingers touch my wrist followed by a well modulated and masculine voice saying,  "May I help you to your stateroom, Sir?"

"Why...why, yes, you may," I stammered somewhat taken aback by the unexpected offer of assistance but without relinquishing my grip on the handle of my suitcase until I saw who was offering the assistance.  Looking quickly to my left, I saw a young, twenty something, crew member smiling at me.  He was maybe an inch or so shorter than my five foot eleven inches; and he may have weighed about the same as I did, approximately one hundred and seventy pounds; but, from the fit of his uniform tunic and trousers, I could see that it was muscle that constituted his weight not fat and bone.

His deep-set blue green eyes were the color of the Aegean Sea; his full sensual lips glistened, and his unruly shock of platinum blonde hair gleamed silver in the harsh light from the overhead florescent light fixtures.  I didn't realize the mesmerizing effect he had on me until I heard him asking, "Your bag and your ticket, Sir?"

"Oh...,oh yes, yes," I managed to stammer.  Thoroughly embarrassed, I relinquished the handle of my suitcase and handed him my ticket, as I mumbled,  "I'm sorry, I don't know what came over me."

"That's quite all right, Sir," he said, smiling as he took the ticket folder from my hand.  A feeling of instant warmth flooded over me when our fingers touched, and the blue green of his eyes seemed to change to a deep jade green when he looked into mine and asked, "Is this your first cruise, Sir?"

"Yes, it is....," I answered, hesitating at not knowing his name.

"Petrik, Sir," he said smiling softly, and indicating a name badge that was pinned on his tunic over the left pectoral muscle.

"It's nice meeting you..., Petrik," I replied; breathing in deeply, still feeling shaky.

"It's my pleasure, Sir; and since this is your first cruise I'll... err...we'll have to see that you enjoy yourself as much as possible while you are with us," he said quickly, attempting to cover his slip of the tongue.  "Will you follow me please?"

I felt a tingling in my groin and my cock starting to harden as I followed Petrik.  His bubble butt moved enticingly as he deftly wove his way though the press of the crowd, leading me to a bank of elevators.


"Your stateroom is on the Upper Deck, Mr. Ward, number 6303," Petrik said glancing at my ticket as he depressed the elevator button for the corresponding deck number.  "Your stateroom is in my section, I'll be one of your stateroom attendants during the trip," he said quietly, turning to look at me as the doors closed, the green of his eyes deepening slightly.

"For the entire cruise, Petrik?" I asked.

"Oh, no, not all of the time," he answered, looking at me, and laughing melodically, his eyes twinkling.  "My duty hours are usually from noon until eight in the evening unless someone is unable to perform their duties; the rest of the time I am free."

"I hope the staterooms are as comfortable as the brochures say they are," I replied, changing the subject in an attempt to suppress the swelling of my cock.

"I am sure you will find it more than comfortable, Sir," he answered, smiling brilliantly, his perfectly even white teeth flashing.  "The shower may be a little small for a man of your size; but I think you will find it adequate," he said, unabashedly letting his gaze drift over my frame.

"It shouldn't be too bad for seven nights," I replied, returning his gaze.

"I'm sure you will find it more than comfortable, Mr. Ward," he replied softy, smiling as the doors slid open, his brilliant green eyes briefly glancing down at the bulge in my crotch.


I followed Petrik down a thickly carpeted, indirectly lighted corridor.  The walls were a sea green color, and the ceiling was white.  Numbered doors were on both sides, and it seemed as if we had walked half the ship's length before we reached my stateroom. 

"Christ, Petrik," I exclaimed.  "That's a hell of a walk."

"Yes, Sir, it is," he replied, glancing at me and grinning as he slid the magnetic card through the door lock. "Usually we board passengers through the center doors, and the walk to this section is shorter from there, but those doors are being used to take on supplies."

The door swung open noiselessly, and Petrik stood back to let me pass.  The stateroom was exactly as the pictures in the brochure had shown it would be, except for twin beds instead of a queen sized bed.  "Petrik," I said over my shoulder, "I thought there would be a queen sized bed."

"The twins can be converted into a queen size, Mr. Ward," he replied.  "Will this be satisfactory for your luggage?" he said, indicating where he had placed it on the counter. "Or would you rather I placed it on the couch?"

"I think the couch would be better, but, I can do that." I started to say, when he effortlessly moved the bag, the muscles in his arms bulging as he lifted it and placed it on the small couch.

"Will there be anything else?" he asked.

"Nothing else for now, except the beds," I replied, reaching into my pocket for a tip.

"That's not necessary, Sir," he said, holding his hand up and smiling.

"Thanks for your help, Petrik, but I wish you would let me give you something," I said.

"I appreciate the offer, Mr. Ward, but I must return to help the others," he said backing up slowly to the door.  "We don't sail until four o'clock, and we will be taking on passengers for the rest of the afternoon.  I go off duty at eight o'clock this evening, but I'll take care of changing the bed while you are at dinner."

"Dinner..., I forgot all about that," I exclaimed.  "Where is the dining room, and how do I get there?"

"Your seating is served at seven-thirty in the Atlantic Dining Room located two decks down," he replied, breathing in deeply and grinning, his eyes twinkling with amusement. "Return the way we came and use the same elevators. If you need it, there is a ship's deck plan included with your tickets. It will show you how to get around the ship; but, if you should become confused,  you can ask any crew member; and they will be glad to assist you."

"Thanks," I said as he quietly closed the door.
"Christ," I thought to myself, gazing at the door, "I'll be a nervous wreck if he is my room steward for the next seven days."


The stateroom was small but not uncomfortable, except for the twin beds.  "There should be a little more room after they are converted to a queen," I mused to myself as I started unpacking and putting my things into the built-in drawers under the counter.  I hung the two suits, extra slacks, a light jacket and my raincoat in one of the two closets and stowed the suitcase in the other where a life jacket was hanging.

I wasn't really planning on wearing suits since this was supposed to be a fun cruise, but the brochure had indicated informal clothing for breakfast and lunch was acceptable while semi-formal wear was required for dinner.

The bathroom was as small as Petrik had said; the wall over the face basin was mirrored, and I was surprised to see that the shower was not like those that most people would be used to.  Instead of having a framework, the shower curtain was attached to the ceiling on a track that closed around a floor drain.   Hand held burnished stainless steel attachments were fixed to the wall with small brass placards over the knobs, in different languages, indicating cold or hot water.  I couldn't help grinning when I also saw a color code button on each knob, red for hot water and blue for cold.

Fixing myself a drink from the variety of beverages on the counter, I stepped out onto the small balcony and looked over the side.   Mobs of people were still boarding.  Looking at my wristwatch, I shook my head pessimistically musing, "They'll never make the sailing time."


I spent the rest of the afternoon, until departure, walking around the ship, getting thoroughly confused.  Petrik was right in that by using the ship's deck plan and by asking several scurrying, but very polite crew members, I could locate where I was in relation to my stateroom.

The Ledo Deck was the fun place for families.  There were two swimming pools, one for adults and one with water slides for children young and old. There were hot spas, open deck space for sunbathing and bars for those who wanted to experiment with exotic tropical drinks or just plain bourbon, vodka or gin drinks.

I opted for bourbon on the rocks and found a small out of the way table where I could watch the madhouse as well as the young men strutting around, some with girls and others who may or may not have been alone. 

There were one or two healthy looking hunks sitting at the bar that I had just left, who looked as if they wouldn't object to being approached, but my thoughts were on Petrik, and I was glad that I had on loose fitting shorts to hide the results of my lecherous thoughts.

It wasn't long before the din of unsupervised kids running and hollering with glee at each new discovery was starting to get on my nerves.  Finishing my drink, I checked the deck plan and decided to locate the Deep Sea Casino, for which I had set an amount of money that I was willing to lose, and Poseidon's Way, where the duty free shops would be.

The Promenade Deck was located three decks down and I was becoming acclimated to using the same elevators that Petrik and I had used.   People doing the same thing as I was milled around looking into the windows of the closed shops.  The Casino was roped off with signs posted indicating that it would open later in the evening, at approximately nine o'clock.  The overhead lights were extinguished, but the banks of slot machines flashed every color in the rainbow.  There were a variety of blackjack, chuck-a-luck dice, roulette tables and one large dice table.  It was a mini Las Vegas waiting to take the unwary merry-maker's money.


After strolling around, I returned to my stateroom and went out on the small balcony.  The stream of people had been reduced to a few latecomers.  The center doors that Petrik had said were being used for taking on supplies had been closed, and I could see several men standing in readiness to cast off the ship's mooring lines from the huge bollards.  Just as I was checking the time, a long shrill blast of the ships whistle pierced the air; and I cringed, clapping my hands over my ears.  "Damn," I thought, that'll wake the dead.

Surprisingly enough, the lines were cast off at exactly four-thirty, and I watched as we slowly drifted away from the cement landing dock.  The water roiled from the turning of the ship's propellers, kicking up huge clouds of mud from the river bottom; and, as a precursor to what I hoped was going to be a pleasant cruise, the sun emerged from the overhanging clouds. 

It seemed as if the ship had turned around in it's own length, and we were heading down river toward the ocean.  It was still three hours before dinner, and I had decided to try out the shower when an announcement came over the ship's public address system that a safety drill would be conducted in fifteen minutes.  We were to don the life jackets that were in our staterooms and check the safety regulations posted on stateroom doors for the locations of the lifeboats which we would use in the unlikely event that they would be required.

I liked the diplomatic way the announcer had of telling everyone which lifeboat to use in the "unlikely" event we had to abandon ship.

Needless to say, it was complete chaos when the drill was held. It was amazing that everyone found the locations they had been assigned to.  Children were babbling with excitement; parents were doing their best to quiet their charges and don lifejackets.   I felt a charge of excitement when I saw Petrik trying to calm people down and assist them with their lifejackets. 

When he saw me struggling with the tangled mess of straps, his eyes lit up for a moment; and, grinning, he moved toward me saying, "Let me help you with that, Mr. Ward."

"Be my guest, Petrik," I replied.  "We didn't have lifejackets like this when I was in the navy."

"They can be difficult if you aren't used to them," he said, moving closer and placing my lifejacket around my neck. 

I detected the faint aroma of musk cologne as his arms went around my neck while he adjusted the head support. My cock responded immediately to his closeness; and he seemed to hesitate for a moment, looking intently into my eyes, before tightening the waist straps.

Breathing in deeply, I brushed my hand over his as if testing the strap quick release mechanism; and he grinned as he squatted to show me the straps that were attached at the bottom of the life jacket, saying, "These go between your legs."

Spreading my legs, and leaning over slightly to watch him, I steeled myself as he reached between my legs for the straps.  His face was only inches from the growing bulge in my groin.  He pulled the straps through and positioned them on either side of my balls.  I felt streaks of fire rushing through me as he covertly adjusted my balls, and it took all of my will power to avoid groaning at the sensuous feeling of his fingers gently touching them as he seemed to  linger while adjusting the straps.

Standing and gazing into my eyes for a brief moment, he pulled the straps through the rings on either side of the lifejacket.  "You have to be careful with those," he said in a teasing whisper as he glanced down at his handiwork.  The tight straps may have a purpose, but at that moment they only served to accentuate the hardness of my cock, and the twinkle in his green eyes made the fire burning in my loins all the fiercer.

Petrik moved away and stood behind one of the ship's officers who was introducing himself as being the leader of our group.  He apologized for the inconvenience of the drill, explaining that it was a requirement of the Coast Guard.  I was only half listening to what he was saying; my eyes were fastened on the slight bulge stretching down the left leg of Petrik's white deck pants.  When he saw me looking, he turned almost imperceptibly toward me, a soft smile on his face and his eyes shining invitingly.

I quickly averted my eyes for a moment, embarrassed at being caught looking.  When I looked at him again, he had moved to the left of the officer who was finishing his instructions just as an announcement was made over the speaker system concluding the drill with a string of apologies.

Everyone was making a mad rush for the doors; but I held back loosening the straps and trying to avoid the mass of passengers when I heard from behind me, "If you leave the leg straps loose and don't undo them completely , it will be easier to put on if we have another drill, and it won't be as uncomfortable between your legs."

"What? Oh yeah," I said turning my head and seeing Petrik.  "I guess it would at that," I replied, grinning a bit mischievously.

The green of his eyes deepened for a moment, and I had the urge to tell him how beautiful they were when he spoke.

"Is your stateroom comfortable?" he asked as we moved with the crowd.

"Except for the beds," I answered.

"I'll take care of that," he replied, laughing softly.  "Did you try the shower?"

"I was about to take a shower when they started this nonsense," I replied, chuckling at the quick change of subject. "I think it will be all right though."

"They are small, but two could take a shower together," he said, lurching against me when someone pushed him from behind. 

"I'm afraid I won't have the opportunity to find that out, at least not on this cruise," I replied, my muscles tingling from the feeling of his hard muscled body pressed momentarily against me; and I wondered, hopefully, whether he was making a suggestion or a casual remark.

"Seven days is a long time at sea," he replied in an almost seductive tone, his eyes twinkling as he turned down a corridor away from the elevators.


The elevator was packed, and even though they moved quickly between decks, I was almost gasping for breath by the time we reached the Upper Deck.  It was a long walk to my stateroom, made even longer this time by the horde of passengers jostling each other as they searched for the doors to their cabins.  I breathed a sigh of relief when my door closed behind me.  

There was a glossy card lying on the small table in front of the couch where none had been before.  "It looks like not everyone was at the drill," I mused to myself as I picked it up.  It was a listing of the various services with phone numbers.  One of the numbers listed was for bar service. 

"I could use another drink," I said to myself, dialing the number.

A polite female voice answered, asking if she could be of service.  "Yes," I replied.  "Could I have a double Jack Daniels and tonic with a lime twist delivered to cabin 6303?"

"Yes, Sir, will there be anything else?" The female voice asked.

"Not unless you can bring a bottle with extra tonic water and limes," I replied, jokingly.  "The short snorter that was in my room when I boarded didn't last very long."

"I am sorry, Sir," she answered politely. "We don't provide that service, but you will find the duty free package store on the Poseidon Deck."

"Thanks," I said, making a mental note to pick up a bottle after dinner.  There were no prices indicated on any of the various service cards, but I was pretty sure buying a bottle would be less expensive than ordering individual drinks.

My cock was still half hard from the covert interplay with Petrik, and even though I tried cold water in the shower; it didn't help; my nuts needed relief.  I hadn't needed to jerk off so badly when Geoff and I were together, except when he was in one of his moods.  I had gotten used to his playing around on the side, but Molly Palm and her Five Sisters were a poor substitute when I felt the need to make love with him.  At that particular time, under the warm water of the shower, I wasn't thinking about Geoff for the thought of sex with Petrik filled me with a desire to blow my load; and I fantasized what he would look like naked as I stroked my throbbing cock, recalling the gentle, almost teasing way, he had touched my balls while adjusting my lifejacket's leg straps. 

"Oh, Christ," I moaned, my muscles tensing at the intense feeling of cum rising and exploding with pent up force against the wall of the shower.  "Jesus, Jesus," I murmured to myself, shuddering with desire and thinking of his tight ass as I milked the last dribbles of cum from my wilting cock.  "Whew," I said out loud feeling a little weak in the legs as I ran my foot over the floor of the shower, helping the thinning creamy white sperm flow into the floor drain wondering how many other loads mine would mingle with in the ship's holding tanks.  

I had almost finished drying off when there was a light tap on the door.  Grabbing my robe from the hook and putting it on, I looped the belt loosely; and, thinking it might be Petrik, I opened the door.  A dark haired, attractive young lady stood outside the door holding a tray with the drink I had ordered.  Her dark brown eyes widened for a moment at seeing me wearing a robe; and then she grinned saying, "Your drink, Sir."

"I'm...I'm sorry," I stammered.  "I don't usually answer the door wearing a robe.  Petrik the young man who escorted me to my room said he would be the steward, and I was expecting him.

"I'm sorry, Sir," she replied, the hint of a smile playing at the corners of her lips. "Petrik is one of the room stewards, Sir. Where would you like me to put this?"

"Set it on the counter, please," I replied trying to sound nonchalant as I stood aside so she could enter.

"Yes, Sir," she replied softly as she entered.

"Do you know Petrik?" I asked quickly closing the door after she had entered. 

"Only as part of the crew, Sir," she answered as she sat the glasses and bottles on the counter and turned.  "I believe he is from Macedonia. He works in a different department from mine, but we occasionally see each other in the crew's dining room."

"Macedonia?" I mused casually.

"Yes, Sir.  There are over fifty-eight countries represented in the crew," she answered, extending a card and pencil. "If there is nothing else, would you sign for your order?"

"Sign?" I replied.  "Don't I pay you now?"  I said forgetting that cash was accepted only in the casino.

"No, Sir," she answered.  "They should have explained when you boarded that cash is accepted only in the casino.  All other purchases are charged to the account that was set up when you boarded."

"Oh..., I had forgotten that," I answered, reaching for the plastic card that was among my boarding papers. "And that's what this is for."

"Yes, Sir.  It is used just like a regular credit card, and it can be used at the cashier cages in the casino if you need additional cash." 

"That makes it convenient," I replied as I signed the card and handed it to her.

"Thank you, Sir.  Will there be anything else?" she said as she handed me the receipt.

"Not right now, and I am sorry if I embarrassed you when I opened the door," I said.

"Not at all, Sir," she answered as she left.


The Atlantic dining room was as impressive in decor as the other public areas of the "Queen of the Seas."  It had large windows looking out over the ocean, and the tables were covered with snowy white table cloths with crystal and silver settings.  The walls were done in Art-Deco style with frolicking mermaids and sea nymphs complemented by a dark blue carpet.  There were waiters and waitresses stationed though out the room, smartly dressed in uniforms that matched the pastel shades of mocha, blue and green used in the wall murals and upholstery of the chairs and booths. 

I wasn't really sure what the proper dress would be; so I had dressed in a casual sports ensemble of dark blue slacks, light blue shirt with matching tie, and a blue seersucker jacket.  It was a relief to see the other passengers dressed as casually as I was, although there were a few dressed in shorts and Hawaiian sports shirts. 

"That is just a little too casual for dinner," I thought to myself as a very handsome and obviously Nordic young man approached and asked, "Will you be dining alone, Sir, or are you waiting for friends?"

"Alone," I replied, unable to avoid a picture of Petrik flashing through my mind as I noticed the golden sheen of his well groomed hair combined with the ice blue of his eyes.

He stood the same height as I; and, from the way his pastel blue and white uniform fit, it was more than obvious that he was extremely well built.  Again the picture of Petrik flashed through my head as I inadvertently allowed my gaze to absorb this young man's masculine beauty. 

"Could I have your seating card, Sir?" he asked smiling, but not hiding the appreciation I could tell he felt from my not too covert appraisal.

"Yes," I replied, breathing in deeply before continuing.  "I believe that I have been assigned to a seat with one of the groups, but I'm not sure where."

Our fingertips touched briefly as he took the card; and, for a moment, his eyes did not waver from mine until he stepped back and glanced down at the card before checking it against the computer screen on a computer monitor sitting on the podium.

"You have been assigned to table 22A, Mr. Ward.  That is one of the tables that we use for passengers traveling alone; or," he said hesitating for a moment, " if you prefer, you might like sitting at the singles bar."

Glancing around the fast filling dining room, I could see that most of the tables were occupied by middle-aged to elderly people with children of various ages.  I didn't mind children for the most part; but I hadn't taken the cruise to be annoyed by their ceaseless chatter in close proximity to where I would be sitting, or, for that matter, the chatter of their parents. 

"I think that I would rather have my dinner at the bar if it is no problem, Karl," I said, glancing at the name tag on his tunic and noticing that his country of origin was Norway.

"I thought you might, Mr. Ward," he replied, smiling.  "I'll change the seating assignment in the computer and issue a new card."

With a few deft movements of his slender fingers, he made the change and printed a new card. 

"I see you have an outboard stateroom on the Upper Deck.  They are much more comfortable than the inboard staterooms, and I'm sure you will enjoy the cruise especially with the balcony. They are a little small; but it's nice to be able to enjoy the warm evening breezes as the ship proceeds south," he said, his even white teeth flashing as he smiled and gestured to one of the waiters standing just out of earshot. "Mr. Ward will be dining at the bar, Andreas."

"Yes, Sir," another handsome dark headed young man said as he stepped forward and took my seating card from Karl.  "If you will follow me, Sir."

"God," I thought as I followed this Adonis through the maze of tables. "Are all of the crew men as tantalizingly handsome?"

The singles bar was a large oval that accommodated diners in much the same manner as many of the old fashioned roadside diners that had at one time been scattered along the highways before the advent of high-speed interstate highways.  The bar was only a little wider than those of diners that I had occasionally  frequented when traveling, and there was more of an over hang allowing more legroom than those with limited access where the patron's legs were sprawled open in order to be closer.  Instead of small round stools, the seats were of armchair quality with thickly padded seats, high backs and armrests.   There were several people already seated, and many of them did not seem to be singles.  Their demeanor and ages indicated they might have been newly weds or dating couples who probably did not want to be involved with strangers.  

I couldn't help but grin to myself as I recalled one of the phrases in the travel brochure, "Where old friends meet again and new friends are made."   From the way one young couple was engaged in conversation another millimeter or two closer to each other and they would have been kissing instead of talking.

Andreas had pulled my seat back, and as I reached him he extended my seating card saying, "Enjoy your dinner, Mr. Ward."

"Thanks, Andreas, I'm sure I will," I replied taking the card from him as I sat down, trying to be casual as I watched him move away.


The dinner menu was extensive with several appetizing entree selections.  I wasn't feeling especially hungry; but a dinner of roast loin of pork, buttered red potatoes with a vegetable medley whetted my appetite; and I placed my order with a petite young waitress, adding a small bottle of chilled Merlot wine.

No one else was seated within two or three seats of me at the dinner bar, and I enjoyed dining in solitude amused by the antics of one young couple sitting on the far side.   Their food sat uneaten, and memories of when Geoff and I had first met flashed though my mind.  We had acted much the same way at Maxine's of Philadelphia, a gay restaurant famous for its French cuisine and intimate atmosphere.

It had been a turbulent four years marred by Geoff's penchant for "strange stuff."  Arguments and pleading only led to further forays; and, after one particularly nasty scene when I caught him in bed with a supposed friend, we both realized that it would be a sham to continue.   His final act of stripping our apartment of the major pieces we had bought and leaving for New York City while I was away at work in my office didn't help soften the blow, and I resolved never to let it happen again.

I didn't realize how far I had sunk into the bitter well of reverie until I heard, "Is everything all right, Mr. Ward?"

"What..., oh yes," I said, suppressing a stammer of surprise when I turned and saw Karl standing at my elbow. 

"I'm glad to hear that," he said, with a concerned tone in his voice.   "I couldn't help but notice the look on your face, and I thought that perhaps there was something wrong with your dinner."

"Oh no, it was excellent, Karl.  I was just mulling over in my mind whether I wanted to try my luck at the casino tonight or just rest in my stateroom and wait until tomorrow."

"That is a difficult decision, especially on a cruise; but I'm sure you will have plenty of time for both," he said softly, his deep blue eyes twinkling.

"I am sure I will, and it has been a long day; therefore, I think I'll see about some liquid refreshment, and then snuggle up in my stateroom with one of the books I brought along."

"Good idea," he replied. "That would be my choice, but I don't have the luxury or privacy of a stateroom.  The crew quarters can be a bit hectic and noisy at times, especially at change of shifts.  You will find the Promenade Deck, where the duty free shops are located, two decks up using the elevator; or you can walk forward and use the stairway just past the photo shops."

"Thanks," I said as I slid off of the seat asking, " What time will breakfast be served?"

"From seven o'clock until ten-thirty.  There are no seating assignments for breakfast, so that gives you plenty of time unless you had rather have breakfast in your stateroom as many of the passengers do, especially those without children."

"You can do that?" I asked.

"Oh yes, if you would prefer it," he answered.  "Place a call to the dining service from your in-ship phone, and they will arrange it."

"That sounds a little too ritzy for me, Karl.  I think I'll stick with the dining room."

"Good, I'll look for you then; and I am sure we will be able to find a quiet place away from more boisterous tables," he replied, his face brightening as he moved away.


The elevators would probably have been quicker, but I opted for the walk in the direction that Karl had indicated figuring it would help settle my dinner.  I didn't seem to be alone in my thinking as there were any number of passengers strolling along in the same direction, some arm in arm and others pleading with their offspring to behave. 

There was a large ship's library, open for the use of passengers who might want to read a book or magazine, and two photo shops crammed with the pictures that had been taken as the ship was boarded.  There was a small bar located between the dual stairways leading up to the Promenade deck.   I was tempted to stop for a drink when I noticed several seemingly unattached young men sitting at the bar gazing into the contents of their glasses or making small talk with a companion or making the acquaintance of another passenger. 

"Maybe later," I sighed to myself unable to remember when I had passed up the chance to make an attempt to meet and possibly seduce a young man such as those sitting at the bar.

The shops located on the Promenade Deck were full of shoppers, and the liquor store had a mind-boggling selection of liquors and wines.  It took only a few seconds to locate a bottle of Jack Daniels and pay for it with the shipboard credit card.  

Just as I was about to leave the shop, a young lady stopped me and said, "I'm sorry, Sir. We will have to deliver your purchase.  Passengers aren't permitted to carry spirits on board ship."

"I'm sorry, I didn't know that, " I replied.

"Most people don't, Sir," she responded, smiling brightly. "If you will give me your stateroom number, it will be delivered shortly."

"Number 6303 on the Upper Deck," I said, handing her the bottle.

"Thank you, Sir."

"How long is shortly?" I asked.

"Probably within half an hour if you are going to be there?" she said looking at me questioningly.

"That's where I was headed when you stopped me,"  I answered. "I was looking forward to a drink and to relaxing before going to bed."

"I'll be sure to have it there in plenty of time, Sir," she replied cheerfully as she turned and walked back inside the liquor shop.

"Good," I mumbled to myself.

Glancing at my wristwatch as I walked to the elevators, I remembered Petrik had said he would have the bed changed before his shift was over; and it was already past eight o'clock. 

"Maybe he will still be there," I thought, quickening my pace.