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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Scenic Cruise Becomes Slow Boat to Nowhere

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"Let's go!" my wife announced.

"Where? When?" A minute ago there were no plans to go out.

"On a cruise around the Moscow reservoir. The day after tomorrow."

She gave me the Foreigner newspaper, where it said that the firm David's Star was organizing a one-day cruise on June 15 aboard the Odessa Mama. Travelers would include businessmen, movie stars and Moscow intellectuals. They offered lectures, concerts, movies, buffet, shashlik, relaxation in comfortable cabins, solaria and a beauty parlor.

My wife is a journalist with a nose for sensation. "Think how many interviews we'll get!" she cried. "Call now or we'll end up in the hold."

I called; for "non-invitees," a two-room cabin was $200. A ticket for the deck was 600 rubles, and they were almost gone. I flew out of the house.

My wife yanked everything out of the closet, ending with a faded blouse and strange-looking slacks. "Real 'couture.' You should be ashamed."

I've been ashamed for a long time, especially of my paltry pension.

On the big day, we left early and were almost late. En route, my wife's back flared up and she had trouble walking. Then the ticket clerk told us our boat was not the Odessa Mama — the company had no such boat — but the Nikolai Bauman. It was almost a kilometer away. We almost went home. But just then a car pulled up and there were the famous performers Alla Yoshpe and Stakhan Rakhimov. They gave us a lift.

On board, we strolled around the deck and corridors and chatted with friends. Departure time passsed, but the boat never moved and the ramp stayed down. First an engine problem that was almost fixed. Then the delay of a bus that was to pick up tourists coming from Petersburg, which would arrive by 2 p.m.

At 3 p.m. we had salad, juice and julienne from the buffet and sat with our colleagues from the press. No sign of bosses with guards, businessmen or movie stars.

They fixed the engine — hurrah! But still all we saw was asphalt and a few trees.

"I'm afraid when the boat rocks," prattled one reporter I know. I assured him he was safe and then decided, enough is enough. When we left nobody tried to stop us.

Later I called to ask when the boat had sailed.

"Sailed? Where to? It only arrived this morning from St. Pete, it's getting routine maintenance."

"But when will it sail again?" I insisted.

"On July 5, if the repairs are finished in time."

We weren't angry. We missed a cruise, but the boat didn't sink and wasn't blown up by terrorists, nobody got seasick or caught cold from a river wind that would have ruined the ladies' hairdos.

Vladislav Schnitzer is a journalist and pensioner living in Moscow.