EVERYONE knows you shouldn't make dubious jokes when checking in or boarding an aircraft: but an innocent remark made in jest aboard ship should surely be a different matter.
In his continuing search for the weird and wondrous in the world of travel, David Ellis says a British family – three of them in their 80s – learned that frivolous one-liners can prove costly... in their case being put off a luxury cruise ship less than 24 hours after boarding.
Two of the octogenarians had been shouted a cruise from England to Europe by their daughter and son-in-law in celebration of their diamond wedding anniversary, with daughter, son-in-law and his 89-year-old mum going along as well.
But on the first night the celebrating husband and father (85) complained to the maitre d' at dinner that he'd got paint on his trousers from work done in his cabin just before they'd gone aboard, and that the cabin's wet paint was enough to make him want to "jump ship".
The "jump ship" comment soon reached the bridge, where duty officers read it as a possible "jump overboard" suicide threat.
So the family was deemed a "security risk", met with, and told they were to be put off next morning at the ship's first port of call, Zeebrugge in Belgium.
A security guard was stationed outside the parents' cabin for the night with regular torchlight checks inside, and next morning the entire family put ashore.
The shipping line subsequently refunded all five cruise fares in full, met the cost of replacing the paint-damaged trousers... and paid all the family's travel expenses back to the UK.