ShowBoats International

Break out the white pants, harpoon and Dramamine, kids. We're going on a boat ride. Yay! Yarrr! Yay!

For this weak column gimmick, your host will be the S.S. ShowBoats International, a magnificently contoured vessel that weighs only slightly less than a mako shark. Thicker than The Captain and sleeker than Tennille, ShowBoats International makes few waves. Though it rarely bothers to venture into choppy waters, it generally returns its passengers to shore with their wits and lunch intact. Don't worry: it rarely ventures out into the sea of such nautical cliches.

Our yacht-tastic journey begins off the coast of "Waterfront," a placid bay in which actual information transmission has gone the way of the silver trout. In fact, if there's a problem with the S.S. ShowBoats International, it's the vessel's willingness to embrace whatever dreck the kissy-kiss captain of the S.S. Public Relations Department throws overboard. Even in the Tenders & Toys supplemental lifeboat that occupies a solid chunk of its rear deck space, S.S. ShowBoats International drowns in an ocean of "seats that cleverly fold out of the way of the angling action" and "XT fins [that] have a vastly more efficient geometry."

The December/January voyage gets a bit more interesting upon reaching the friendly coves of recent Cannes and Monaco Boat Shows as well as last July's Newport Bucket, which is apparently either a regatta of some sort -- or a bucket. No, the attendees aren't a diverse lot -- a number of those depicted have marvelous tans, though -- but the show coverage glides smoothly where similar vessels have capsized. "Capsize" is when a boat turns over, right? This minnow's oceanic experience is limited to shuffleboard, midnight buffets and mermaid porn.

"Landfall" finds us on a -- yes! -- chartered yacht in Antigua, whereupon one of our boatmates injects a bit of color via descriptions of the food and on-board merriment. Still, the S.S. ShowBoats International doesn't really start cruising until it bumps masts with the floating mansion that is The Maltese Falcon. As opposed to a trite appreciation by a self-appointed aficionado, S.S. ShowBoats International affords passengers the opportunity to hear directly from the owner, designer, naval architect and "innovator-businessman" of this astonishing "sailing machine."

The rest of the journey goes more or less as planned, offering expansive encounters with any number of massive vessels. The S.S. ShowBoats International does, however, hit a rough patch midway through, when an absinthe-addled first mate babbles about Rosh Hashanah and Ramadan, depicting some supership as "a metaphor for the global nature and geopolitical openness of today's megayacht world." We platinum-carded travelers would prefer that you concentrate on what really matters: the arm-long jumbo shrimp, the 14-karat shower fixtures, the spectacular skylounge cinema airing "Speed 2: Cruise Control" in an endless loop. We're sailing the seas in style, not fostering a spirit of peaceful, swimmy interaction with our fellow man.

Sadly, our trusty photographer went mysteriously missing somewhere between Miami and the Caymans, and his manufacturer-approved replacements do a somewhat less than artful job of capturing the opulence of their subjects. One also wonders why the S.S. ShowBoats International devotes a huge chunk of mid-grand-ultra-turbo-yacht real estate to industry stats more befitting a trade magaz... er, a trade ship. Yeah, a trade ship.

Anyway, here's hoping you enjoyed your splendiferous journey on the S.S. ShowBoats International. Land ho, or something. And remember: scurvy is only a state of mind.

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