Danskebåten Debunked – Part 1.
Danskebåten means “The Danish Boat.” It also means “follow your dreams”.
When I was 14, my wealthy grandparents treated my family to an expensive Caribbean cruise. Ways it transcended reality: “Free” meals at any hour of the day. Two pools inside the boat, three pools outside. A Christmas day trip to Jamaica, where our tour guide escorted us around the poverty and towards the wild donkeys.
Those ten days still rank among the best of my mediocre life. Just look at how happy I was, culture-appropriating cornrows and all:
Not even food-loaded braces, fake-Chanel space sunglasses, and watery boob marks could convince me that I wasn’t the luckiest girl in the world.
Seven years later, I visited Oslo for the first time during the summer of 2013. And when I first laid eyes on the majestic boats in the Oslo fjord, my eyes literally became cartoon hearts. All at once, I was the off-putting tourist from this photo--the girl I thought I’d left behind forever--the girl who would sacrifice everything for one last cruise.
Like the Little Match-Girl of second-rate vacations, I begged every Norwegian person I met to take me on the voyage from Oslo to Copenhagen. The woman I was living with at the time described the people aboard the ship as [harry?], which supposedly equates to what what we Americans call “white trash”. Norwegians would panic if I (a stranger) asked for the time on the train, so I guessed that their definition of “white trash” was hyperbolic. I wasn’t scared. I go to Medieval Times once a year, which is a fake jousting tournament where you get to yell while eating turkey with your hands.
When I pitched the trip to my summer fling, he literally turned grey and became a pile of stones. “You don’t understand, it isn’t fun”, he warned. But clearly, he was the one who didn’t understand how riding a big boat across the sea can give an empty life meaning. Rejected, I crumbled and laid dormant.
In the summer of 2014, I returned to Norway to visit the fling. This time, Oslo was semi-familiar territory. I knew to buy boller at the definitely-Italian Deli De Luca, and had also learned phrases like “takk fir maten” and “[duren locus / the door is locking on the train, how to say this?]”. I continued to put out feelers. Me at parties: “So, that Copenhagen cruise seems like a pretty good deal, huh?” Norwegian millennial: “No.” Why are young people so dead inside?
By the fall of 2015, the Internet had kept my once fling, now boyfriend connected for two years. And you’d think, that when your American girlfriend travels across the world to have sex with you, you might grant her single dying wish of a measly, life-changing weekend cruise. Unsurprisingly, this trip followed the annual tradition of disappointment. I’d packed my bikini, sunscreen, and Jamaican dolls for naught. I don’t know what the Norwegian word is, but this is what we Americans call “rock bottom”.
When I turned twenty-three in February of 2016, the Norwegian guy made a promise that he would later regret. He swore that if I was to return, I’d receive the Danish cruise I’d hunted for three damn years as a birthday gift. That’s right – if the cruise was affordable before, now it was free. I packed my bags, quit my job, and booked a winter visit from mid-October to mid-January. Some people will cross the world for sex. Some people will cross the world to then get on a different vessel and cross a way smaller part of the world. I am both.
So here, in an Espresso House (hus) I sit today. I was warned in some words, “Danskebåten is trashy in the summer, but unspeakable in the winter.” But I’ve lost all patience for hate, and I’m ready to solve the mystery myself. I am an unshakable American tourist, I ate a Deli de Luca hotdog for breakfast, and we board at dusk on Friday.
Wow! Will dreams come true? Will expectations be met? Can a boat make a grown girl cry?
Get your answer fix – read part 2 now!