Cruise Ship Confessional

Roman Vai
3 min readApr 6, 2023

At the edge of the Atlantic, a floating island stands connected to the docks at port. On board are four hundred aging people who pace between their bathrooms and balconies. When their sea legs fail them, they lay in bed and try to visualize the cruise ship as something from the golden age of luxury travel, but not the Titanic, or one of those Venitian hotels where the lobby constantly floods.

It’s better to imagine the ship more like Noah’s Arc, except instead of two of every kind of species, there are two hundred pairs of the same species: old white people. It is propelled forward with gallons of fuel, and stays afloat with a miraculous combination of physics and funds from the guests retirement pensions.

In the main atrium, a large staircase leads from the food hall to the pool deck and in between is a closet-sized room that fits two people. On the door, carved in relief on stone, are the words “Cruise Confessional”.

The following passages are from the crew and guests aboard this craft:

“Dear Lord, I need guidance. My son went in one end of the water-slide, and never came out the other. Why do I feel such peace?”

“Last night, Oh Lord, I was taken away by the spirit. Someone had grabbed my hips, and the music was a slow mambo, and before I knew what I was doing, I was in a conga line without my wife. I smelled the neck of the person I was leading. I felt the sensual release of being led by another woman. I fear to see my wife this morning. I hid my face behind a heaping tray of croissants, pancakes and donuts. Forgive me, for I have sinned.”

“Oh God, please protect me. I fear I am becoming a habitual liar. Today, I told my Mom I put on sunscreen, when really I hadn’t.”

“I have worked on this ship for fifteen years. I’ve realized that this ship is a closed network, a cycle that resembles life. People come and go, time changes. I don’t carry any hatred of the work, or my dark cabin. I just feel resignation, an absence of anything else. The food stays the same, my feet touch metal, I don’t believe in anything higher. I haven’t been able to stop thinking, though. It was last night’s staff meal that reignited some form of religion inside me. It was undeniable proof that something, beyond the land or sky, was calling for me. I’m not looking for an explanation, but maybe just a meaning. How else could I have found a pumpkin seed in the center of my hot dog?”

“God, please look after my son and me. I sent him out to the game room and told him I was taking a shower, but instead I pooped and shaved my whole body. Now, John (my sister’s boss) is sleeping naked in my room, and I’ve locked my son outside. I left to find him, and when he did, I only thought to scold him for not wearing his sun lotion before I shut myself in this confession box. Where do I go from here?”