Boilerplate PA announcements made upon arrival in port are usually pretty tame. The ship has been cleared blahblah…we sail at yaddayadda…the temperature is yeahyeah.
This time, shortly after Silver Shadow had sidled up to the quay in Bridgetown, Barbados, our endlessly chipper cruise director Kirk ended his welcoming speech with an intriguing final sentence that managed to yank us from shipboard torpor.
“Please do not wear camouflage clothing ashore,” he said.
If CDK had hoped to slip that advisory tidbit in without anyone noticing, he hadn’t counted on bulldog reporters—that would be us—among the passengers.
I turned to Patti, doing the mysterious Internet things she does on her laptop. “Did you hear that?”
“Hear what?” she said, a little peeved at the distraction.
“The announcement that we shouldn’t wear camouflage clothing ashore,” I said.
“You probably heard it wrong,” she said. “It probably said not to wear Crocs ashore, since that footwear offends nearly everyone.”
But I don’t usually mishear when my senses have been fine-tuned by a pair of potent double cappuccinos. “No,” I said, “it was definitely camouflage.”
Patti gave a small nod of acknowledgment, but my mind began racing as long-dormant journalistic instincts kicked in. Maybe the shipboard lack of hard news, caused no doubt by the curse of the international satellite television channels that blanket the oceans of the world with endless cricket scores had obscured some earthshaking event in Barbados. Had some terror plot sent Barbados into a spasm of fear? Was there a coup attempt that has turned the island into a dangerous armed camp? Or, more sinister, had the local rum supply, ravaged by the hordes disgorged by ever-larger cruise ships, sunk to historically low levels?
While none of that seemed plausible, Barbados being a largely placid, friendly place governed by British niceties, laws, and language, we nonetheless swung into action—and action aboard Silver Shadow means tracking down Cruise Director Kirk for comment on why camouflage clothing was such a big no-no here. Cruises being what they are, however, that task took several days, since he is usually up to his elbows in the ebb and flow of Team Trivia. Finally, we found him in his office off the reception area.
What he did was to chuckle, which seemed inappropriate given the potential gravity of the situation.
“There was a bank robbery here years ago when the robbers wore camouflage clothing, and ever since it’s been banned on the island,” he said.
“Really,” he said. “We’ve had some passengers turned back.”
Well, there it was. One bank robbery was all it took to keep Barbados free of clothing that might, at any moment, be enlisted in the commission of crime.
All we could think of was: Where does that leave the Barbadan hip-hop community? Perhaps left only with Rasta-style Jamaican gear? Oh, the horror!