Myself and a couple of other acts are waiting on the dockside to be cleared to board the cruise ship. As we wait an ambulance passes by, picking up someone who fell ill while the ship was at sea. It's the excuse the other performers need to start telling a few shaggy cruise stories. I sit on my suitcase and listen.
There are cruise lines which specialise in older passengers - even some that have age limits below which you are not entitled to buy a ticket. Apparently many people who think that their time on this planet is fast coming to an end - either because of illness or just age - spend the last bits of their savings on a few-month long cruise, fully expecting to die while at sea enjoying their last hurrah or cocktails and balcony naughtiness. Good for them, I say. From what I hear, the looks of annoyance and disappointment on their faces when they disembark the ship having survived the cruise are priceless. I am told you'll never see someone more pissed-off to be alive.
These particular cruises - the ones that specialise in old people and last a few months - expect to return with a couple of empty cabins. That's just maths and good sense. But here's the interesting bit: When someone dies on board and the ship is between ports for a few days, they stow the body in the kitchen's desert freezer. So, the bottom line is simple: If they serve you ice cream after every meal - someone's kicked the bucket. Allegedly.