golden girls pajama party

At the last second, my husband had to bail on an upcoming cruise.

Family couldn’t swing it either, so I asked – as one does – the busiest woman on the planet if she’d like to be my plus-one. As busy women do, she quickly said yes and went about shutting down her life for that particular week (cue Enjoli perfume ad).

Pam and I’d raised our boys together in Virginia. She and I were “fly-by friends” glimpsing each other in flashes and blurs when dropping off, feeding, picking up kids and so forth.

But an entire week to ourselves?

Color us stoked.

Pam (left) and Wendy on the MSC Meraviglia. No, we aren’t ecstatic. Why do you ask?

If you haven’t heard of MSC cruises, you’re in good company. Long known as a European line, MSC is now expanding her flip-flopped footprint into the U.S. market, and currently has five mega-ships homeported on our shores. MSC’s stretch goal is to become as ubiquitous as Carnival or Royal Caribbean (code for prices rock).

Destination? Bermuda!

Two Country Mice

Pam and I were booked into the MSC’s Yacht Club which is the line’s ship-within-a-ship experience. The Yacht Club regulars will tell anyone who’ll listen: “Once you go Yacht Club, you’ll never go back.” (Truer words etcetera.)

Fast-forward a few weeks, and there we were, looking in awe at our spacious stateroom, when a beautifully dressed man knocked and introduced himself saying that he would be our butler for the week.

We were all, “Butler? You mean like Lurch?”

The YC lounge with miles of views; small bites in sweet and savory all day and evening long. Photo credit: MSC cruise line.

Larry smiled politely and went into the ins and outs of the Yacht Club, beginning with, “Everything – food, cocktails – is included in the one price you’ve already paid.”

“The elegant Yacht Club spans three decks at the top of the ship’s stern (back). On the rooftop – if you will – you’ll find a (quiet) pool, luxury chaise lounges (nice and empty), and an upscale patio-dining (excellent). Indoors is the Yacht Club’s exclusive restaurant and a marvel of a lounge that offers views for miles along with seriously great bite-size food.”

Larry finished by telling us that as Yacht Club members we’d have daily access to the thermal spa.

Thunk. (That’s me falling over.) Have you heard of a thermal spa? Think: heated beds, saunas, steam rooms and so forth. Even if you aren’t a spa-fan, you’ll dig the thermal (“yes” to bathing suits).

You’ll find yourself melting out of the thermal.

The Luxury of Effortless Fun

The all-inclusive part made Pam and my time together just plain easy – there was no thinking beyond “Which dessert would you like ma’am? A sample plate of all four? Not a problem.” And that’s when it dawned on me. We’d stumbled on the perfect Golden Girls pajama party.

For the entire week, Pam and I talked a-mile-a-minute and had a blast drinking chocolate martinis (me) and eating a daily filet mignon (Pam). We had massages in the spa (spectacular) and ate at the ship’s restaurants (all excellent). We were bummed for a second when a storm laughed at our Bermuda plan, telling us to try the Bahamas instead. But our attitude? “Hey, it’s all good.” As each day raced by, something unexpected unfolded: Pam and I were deepening our friendship.

The Magic of Friendship on a Cruise Ship

Take one night, when Pam and I were watching the Broadway-like show with young women singing their hearts out, Pam turned to me and quietly opera-sang into my ear, and she somehow did it in a whisper-sing. Now that’s voice control!

I’d always wanted to hear Pam sing, but long story short, Pam has some PTSD around singing in public and never felt comfortable belting one out. I was beyond touched that mid-cruise, Pam felt safe enough to sing for me into my ear. A precious gift.

We also came up with the perfect ending to each day. Every night after the Broadway-ish show, Pam and I headed straight for the Yacht Club lounge to scoop up three or four small-bite desserts before returning to our stateroom planning to pair champaign – ordered earlier – with our beautiful desserts.

You know those statistics that lament how lonely our planet is? I mean, we baby boomers remember when loneliness stats weren’t even a thing. We all remember the days when the phone was attached to the wall, and we talked with girlfriends for hours until an adult kicked us off. Today we text “to stay in touch.” Which isn’t even close, to being close.

In these high-tech times, give your friends a wondrous gift: put out some feelers and then organize your own Golden Girls party at sea. You’re headed for one of the most memorial experiences of your life. (And please have a chocolate martini for me.)

MSC’s beautiful Meraviglia in New York. Photo Credit: MCS cruise line.

Ready to Throw Your Own Golden Girls’ Party at Sea?

Here’s how to go about it:

Choose Your Goldens Carefully

You don’t want anyone who bristles easily, has a drinking problem, and/or is a narcissist. You want the friendliest in life who love to travel. If three of you hang together all day, but a fourth is in the casino into the wee hours, nothing good will result.

How Many Goldens Should You Invite?

I suggest an even number. Plan two Goldens to a stateroom (when you book ask for staterooms next to or near each other). Or consider an out-of-the-box idea: it might be cheaper to book an extra-large Yacht Club suite that’ll hold all of you (but you’d need to do the math).

Consider Personality Specifics

Pam and I are both INFJs on the Myer-Briggs. You don’t need to be an exact match with your Goldens, but the “introvert” vs. “extrovert” distinction is a big deal.

What Might Not Fly

If two of you are in the main part of the MSC ship while you and a friend are in the Yacht Club, you can visit your friends on the larger ship like to get massages at the spa, hang at the pool and have lunch or dinner together in the main dining room. But only those who’ve paid for the Yacht Club can use its endless food, drinks and amenities.

Combat our culture’s loneliness: pull together a Golden Girls at sea party with your friendliest of friends and have a ship-within-a-ship experience like no other.

Let’s Have a Conversation:

Is loneliness a part of your life? How have you best managed it? Do you think that the Silicon Valley-era is part of the loneliness problem? What do you think about organizing your own Golden Girls slumber party? Where would you go? What would you do?