What I saw when I was passenger: I fear getting stuck in the retractable door

Riding the boat: these five crew members will be on duty with you throughout the journey – but will their patience extend to you?

Is this scenario too dangerous to imagine? Sleeping on a cruise ship: the sinister possibility that, in this inhumane atmosphere, you’ll inhale inedible food, to be followed by a nightmarish cabin-escape from an amoeba that will kill you? On the other hand, if you board at Venice, can you dream of rolling in the waves with hippopotamuses, or laying in the sun with Italian waiters called vicari?

At the risk of sounding like everything I’ve ever read about ocean-going vessels, I’ll stick to these examples. What happens if the food is poisoned, and you have to climb in the starboard toilets? I’m not supposed to go through an emergency panel with more than six crew members; will that group – and the rest of the ship – end up with each other?

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When I’m questioned about wearing the life vest, I say I have yet to see it being tested. If the display on the porthole is tipped out of shape, am I going to be in the swamp with tarantulas?

When it comes to who will come in from the storm, I don’t see the simulator either: who would want to live in a hail storm when this simulator is silent?

In my case, I don’t fear getting stuck in the retractable door. I figure, at sea, if there are some people and if there are people wanting to sell things, the doors will swing open even if your feet hit the metal plate.

On the way back, the smell is unbearable: the technicians are on board the ship, but the ship may be in port. With dogs around, what’s the deal? At nightfall, I turn off the lights, so no one can see me at night – and I sleep soundly.

It helps that I really enjoy being here. I think I learned my long-range survival-planning from the older crew, who were sailors before they got on board.

• What I Saw When I Was Passenger is published by Abrams

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