Matt: Dum de-dum, de-dum. Back when I worked in an office, this was the week where absolutely nothing got done. So let's write an article where nothing of substance gets discussed. 'Tis the season.

Heidi: Boy, that'll be a challenge. It's hard for me to be frivolous. Which reminds me of a cruise once . . .

Matt: . . . on a balmy tropical sea . . .

Heidi: . . . when this scrawny guy dressed in drag began kissing Captain Hottie on the Mandalay. I mean nothing pornographic, just a drunk guy on a Windjammer cruise doing what you're supposed to be doing on those ships: act insane. I seem to recall the guy was eventually carried back to his cabin. I also remember feeling a little jealous. That captain was a cutie pie!

Matt: You and your schoolgirl crushes. Maybe someday a cruise line will hire a female captain and I can send some turnabout your way.

Heidi: Yeah, but you men can ogle at all those passengers slinking around in skimpy bikinis. I remember on a Carnival ship once, this chick with huge gazambas was wearing a patriotic red, white and blue thing no bigger than a couple of postage stamps. X-rated, I tell you. Even I was staring.

Matt: But for every one of those there's somebody else wearing the same thing who really shouldn't be. Turns your libido into binary code: on, off, on, off, on, off.

Heidi: Right, like the old man on Royal Caribbean's Grandeur or the Seas in the Med a few years back. Now he was straight from central casting. I'm watching this men's "sexy legs" contest on the pool deck. They're halfway into the thing when this little old guy in purple shorts limps up to the line. No kidding, one leg was shorter than the other and he of course wanted to join the game. He insisted and paraded around with the others. Bizarroooooo. Where do these people come from? The land of cruise loonies?

Matt: But then there are the sweet ones, like the British guy I saw on P&O's Oriana. It was a passenger talent show and he was singing "Love Me Tender," dressed in black jeans, black cowboy shirt and boots, and a bolo tie. Turns out he'd met an American girl thirty years before on P&O's Canberra, moved to Arizona to marry her, and now they were back for their anniversary. It was touching.

Heidi: From touching to touched: At the talent show on the Norwegian Sun in Alaska back in the late '90s, this lady who had to be in her 80s dressed up in a short baby-doll dress and impersonated Shirley Temple singing "On the Good Ship Lollipop." And yes, she was licking a giant lollipop. Sometimes I still get nightmares.

Matt: Somewhere out there is a fetishist getting all hot and bothered by that image.

Heidi: Pleeasssseeee, this is a family website. I think.

Matt: Let's segue from the disturbing to the merely inexplicable: Two days ago I'm walking through the casino on NCL's new Norwegian Pearl and I see this young woman run to a slot machine and say, "Oh, I love this game!" She didn't mean slots in general. She meant that particular machine -- "Kung Fu Lady" or whatever. Are they not all exactly the same? Insert coin, pull handle, lose money.

Heidi: You're such a simpleton. It's like saying all drums are the same: You beat on them and they make noise. Which reminds me of the crew talent shows on Holland America's Statendam a few weeks back. I hate to sound overly critical, but some of the acts were just awful. Sure, they weren't professional, but doesn't everyone have an inner Simon Cowell that knows good from bad? Still, the crowd seemed to enjoy the whole thing. Go figure.

Matt: Obviously they didn't do the number I saw at an HAL crew show once: "My Way" played by 14 Indonesian crewmembers on tuned bamboo rattles. Amazing!

Heidi: Riiiiiiiiight, bamboo rattles. Wouldn't know one of those if it whacked me on the head. Which reminds me of a tablemate on one cruise who actually nodded off at dinner. His head was bobbing just an inch from his plate. The poor guy really embarrassed himself. Too many Manhattans, I guess.

Matt: Or maybe (to quote from a Precambrian-era Frommer's cruise guide, long before we took it over) it was the fault of "black velvet nights that slide smoothly off the memory . . . diamond days, bright and brilliant and everlasting."

Heidi: Sounds like a commercial for Elizabeth Taylor's newest perfume. Thank god we took over.

Matt: No purple prose here. Just, y'know, pith.

Heidi: Pith?

Matt: Pith.

Happy New Year!

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