DRHOOK- Cruisin' buffet lines: Non-stop eating shouldn't be the goal

the handsome doctor John Hong

"Wasting away in Margaritaville." Know the song? You should if you're a Jimmy Buffett fan. 

My parents just treated the family to a Caribbean cruise. The first port of call was Turks and Caicos, and guess what was there? It wasn't a Cheeseburger in Paradise, which can even be found in the land of Thomas Jefferson. 

No. It was a huge Margaritaville. I didn't know there were two restaurants based on songs. (If I had restaurants based on my songs, they'd be "Eat It" by Weird Al Yankovic and "Mashed Potato, USA" by James Brown.) (Is "Eat It" a universal song now?)

Did you ever see the Nicolas Cage movie Leaving Las Vegas? He's an alcoholic who decides to drink himself to death. When I was on this recent cruise— just like on every other cruise– I wondered if some people go on cruises to eat themselves to death. 

On a previous trip, we met a very nice couple who had been married for over 50 years and still had a zest for life. However, the husband suffered from congestive heart failure and diabetes, so he was supposed to be on a low sodium and sugar diet. (And he was on a cruise?) 

This poor guy was up at midnight for the chocolate extravaganza on the Lido deck, with his ankles as large as Elizabeth Taylor's thighs and his lungs as wet as Flipper.

Don't think the cruise lines don't know that some people just come for the food. The satisfaction survey they gave us at the end asked if we came for the dining experience. 

I do think some people just cruise to eat and drink. When you see the same people day after day in the buffet lines, and they appear to weigh at least 300 pounds (I'm very good at estimating weight), you do wonder if that's the main attraction. 

On lobster night, we heard that a man ate nine lobster tails. Nine— and not as in the musical.

My brother and his wife have been doing something called P90X, and they are both at ideal body weight now. The last time I saw my brother at ideal body weight was– wait, can I think that far back? 

Anyway, it was their goal not to gain weight on this cruise– and they succeeded. (Ah! But I didn't. It was only three pounds, but still amazing since I exercised like a fiend every day! I made Jane Fonda look like Star Jones before her bariatric surgery.)

Alas, I must admit that eating brings me joy. Well, eating things that are so delicious, especially when you don't have to lift a finger. On a cruise it's like the food dispenser on Star Trek: Verbal Order = Immediate Food.

Mind you, cruises lines have very healthy food choices, and I chose those at every meal. It's just that you can order other things as well– and as much as you want. (BTW, will restaurants please stop putting bread and butter on the table before the meal?)

Unfortunately, I believe two-thirds of the cruise travelers were obese and/or overweight, which correlates to the national average. More concerning, though, is that I don't think they care. Folks who were very large still wore bikinis (women) or Speedos (men) to expose their panni (hanging abdominal fat) and cellulite. I don't think I've ever hummed Sir Mix-A-Lot's song, "Baby Got Back," so frequently in my entire life. 

Jimmy Buffett needs to write another song called "Buffett Line." People will line up by the millions to get a bite of that record.


Dr. Hook cracks a joke or two, but he's a renowned physician with an interesting website, drjohnhong.com. Email him with your questions.



Want to see it change?

Weigh 'em on the way in and weigh 'em on the way out. Charge them accordingly............

The Buffet Line is the new Sacrament. Size does matter. I never feel closer to God than when I eat 2-3 Lbs. of food. Amen