This Edition Features new trends in cruising. As a comedian, I have spent more time on cruise ships than most sailors spend in the navy, and I have seen the underbelly of the cruise industry. In fact, my cabin was in the underbelly, and it wasn't very luxurious.

Here are my suggestions for improving the cruise experience:

Divide the dining room into talking and nontalking sections. Some people on a cruise really enjoy talking to total strangers at a large dining table. These people should be seated with their own kind. Personally, I don't like to talk to other people when I eat — my mouth is usually full of food and when I talk, it tends to fly out, which most people find rather disgusting. So I like to take my meals sans conversation. If the dining room were divided between the talkers and the silent eaters, it would be a more comfortable environment for all of us.

Safety first is always the motto onboard ship but I would like to take it to a new level. Whenever anybody gives me free clothing, I like to wear it. If a first-class hotel provides a robe and slippers, I use them every minute I am in my room. Well, the same holds true for the life jacket on board a ship. I wear it 24/7 and I suggest you do the same. If all the passengers wear life jackets, nobody will look stupid, and, let me add, a life jacket is especially fetching on formal night. One more bonus: When you wear a life jacket, you feel like you can eat more at the midnight buffet. Those jackets are very roomy and can be adjusted if they become too snug.

Let the passengers steer the ship. How hard could it be? You have a great big wheel that you turn to the right to go right, er, starboard; and you turn it left to go port. On the open seas you don't have to worry about things like traffic lights or dogs in the roadway and islands are pretty easy to spot during the day. For a sizable fee, the cruise ships could let regular passengers drive the boat for 20 minutes and no harm would come to anybody. It's a win-win situation.

Theme cruises are nothing new to the industry, but how about a roller derby cruise? This semi-legitimate sport has been gaining renewed favor in recent years and an onboard roller derby would be sure to attract fans. The skaters could race around the promenade deck, crashing each other into the railings. Oh, sure, one or two of them may go over the side, but hey, isn't that why we watch events like this anyway?

Cruise ships need some new games. You've seen these competitions covered on TV where contestants vie to see who can cram the most hot dogs, donuts, or dill pickles into their craws within a set period of time. Well, what does a cruise ship have more of than anything else? Food. Turn the midnight buffet into a competitive eating challenge to see who can devour the most chow before their heart explodes. Wagering would be conducted by the ship's casino.

I don't expect the industry to adopt any of my suggestions but if they do, I would appreciate a little remuneration in return. Perhaps I could get something I never had during my years entertaining on ships — a cabin above the water line.


Professional summarizer Dale Irvin is a member of the Professional Speaker Hall of Fame. To have him put some more fun into your next meeting call Ruth Levine at (858) 228-3771, ext. 102. To sign up for Dale's free Friday Funnies, visit www.daleirvin.com.