Overheard on the cruise

Barb and I were on a cruise the last few weeks (Los Angles to New Orleans through the Panama Canal). I checked the web site (Norwegian Cruise Lines) before we left and, no surprise, guns were not allowed but knives with blades less than four inches long were acceptable (curiously, laser pointers are not allowed either). Never mind that steak knives on the ship were probably going to be longer than four inches, but whatever. I brought along the two Spyderco Delicas I carry in my pockets whenever it is legal to do so. I got them on the ship just fine. I got off the ship at our first stop then got back on just fine. Security even examined them and measured the blade length. At the second stop shore security took them from me when we tried to get back on the ship. I got a receipt and they told me to talk to ship security. I talked to guest services about the knives and they promised to contact security for me and they would get back to me. After about a day and a half I talked to guest services again. They said security would come out to talk to me about the knives. After about 20 minutes two security people showed up. I greeted them warming and introduced myself and shook their hands. Security Officer Judd Hinchliffe was the one that did all the talking:

Norwegian Pearl Security Officer. October 2017.

The following is a close approximation of the conversation. My thoughts which I dared not express are in [brackets].

Hinchliffe: I have your knives but these are not allowed on the ship.

Joe: I checked the website before we got on the ship and it says knives with blades less than four inches are acceptable.

Hinchliffe: Yes. But these knives are what we call lock blade knives.

Joe: I didn’t see anything on the website about lock blade knives.

Hinchliffe: It doesn’t but in the U.K., where I’m from, these are banned. We not in the U.K. but these are banned for a reason. With a normal knife if you try to stab someone with them the blade may fold on your hand. A locking blade knife is much more dangerous. These are what we call lock blade knives.

Joe: [Are you saying that U.K. law is incorporated into Norwegian Cruise rules while we are sailing in international waters off the west coasts of the United States and Mexico? Why not incorporate U.S. law which says you are infringing upon my right to keep and bear arms? That’s a felony by the way.
That’s the second time you told me they were lock blade knives. I knew that before you ever said so about these knives and I heard you the first time. In my defensive knife classes they taught us to use slicing motions, so the locking feature isn’t really going to make a difference if I need to use the knife on someone.]  If I were ever to go to the U.K. [not bloody likely until you fix your idiotic anti-self defense laws] I wouldn’t bring my knives.

Hinchliffe: I know this isn’t the U.K. but I’m in charge of security and I need to make sure everyone is safe. Why do you carry knives?

Joe: I grew up on a farm. When I was in the first grade the teacher gave all the boys in the class a knife for Christmas. I have carried a knife ever since then. [So… if someone attacks Barb or I and we are unable to defend ourselves because you took away our knifes you would be held responsible for the attack?]

Hinchliffe: Look around us. Does this look like a farm?
Joe: No. [It doesn’t look like the U.K. either. What does it matter?] Of course not.

Hinchliffe: In the U.K. we have a knife culture since we don’t have gun culture like in the U.S.

Joe: [You say “gun culture” like it’s a bad thing. If you would have let me bring my guns on board I would have been happy enough to leave my knives at home so you could indulged your prejudice against knife ownership without causing me any grief. As it is I’m probably going to lose the callouses on my hands from shooting 500 to 1000 rounds a week in practice. I’m then going to have to start practicing at drastically reduced levels to avoid blisters.] Yes, I know. I read about it sometimes.

Hinchliffe: What do you use a knife for?

Joe: I use them for all kinds of things. Cutting apples, opening boxes, most recently on this cruise I cut the labels off of some new clothes for my wife.

Hinchliffe: How are you getting along with your wife?

Joe: We get along great! In fact while we were waiting in line over there someone asked us if we were newlyweds. [Seriously?!! You want to get into couples counseling? If I were inclined to hurt her there are many options other than one of these knives. Let me see, I haven’t thought about this before. What would be my options? Push her overboard, push her down the stairs, hands, fists, feet, elbows, knees, a metal water bottle, a pillow while she sleeps, the metal chairs on our balcony, I could burn her with the hot hair dryer in our cabin, hmm… I could go on for quite some time like this…]

Hinchliffe: Why do you carry two knives?

Joe: [What difference does that make? Norwegian Cruise rules don’t put a limit on the number of knives only on the length of the blade. According to the rules I can have 10, 100, or 1000 knives. But you don’t care about the written rules, do you?

Do you think I’m twice as dangerous with two knives? How about if I had ten knives? Do you think I want to sell them to other passengers?] I have one in each pocket so I can easily reach one or the other if one hand is holding something.

Hinchliffe: I can’t let you have these knives in public. If someone saw you with them it would frighten them.

Joe: [Really? Even though the rules don’t prohibit it? Oh, yes, the rules don’t matter to you. What matters to you is that you get to exercise your prejudice against people who carry knives.

Perhaps the ship has a mental health professional on board who could help people with irrational fear of knives. Have you considered seeking some help yourself?] Well, I don’t need to have them in public.

Hinchliffe: You seem like a reasonable fellow so I’m inclined to let you have the knives back. But you will have to put them in your luggage so they can’t be seen by your steward when they are cleaning your room.

Joe: That sounds fair enough to me. I’m very much a rule following person. If I had known locking knives were a problem I would have left them at home but the website didn’t say anything about them. [So small pocket knives, which meet the your website criteria, sitting on a shelf in our cabin are going to frighten your crew? If this is really true it sounds to me like you need have higher standards for crew selection. I know! If they fire you and raise the standards for your position the problem will be solved for everyone!]

Hinchliffe: I’m going to escort you back to your cabin and you can put them away while I watch.

Joe: Okay. That works for me. [How does this help? If I wasn’t going to do that if you gave me the knives now, what makes you think I will leave them hidden away the minute after you leave the cabin?*]

Hinchliffe: [As we walk to my cabin.] I still don’t understand why you have two knives.

Joe: [That’s not a question so I don’t have to say anything now. I’m just going to walk back to the cabin, get my knives, thank him, and enjoy the rest of the cruise. I’m sure there are lot of things this guy doesn’t understand in his life and I don’t think there is anything anyone can do to help him with that.]

* It’s possible he visited our cabin once or more times when we were on shore or at a meal and checked to make sure the knives remained where he saw me stash them. I was tempted to put them in the safe or hide them at the bottom of my dirty laundry bag just to mess with him, but decided I had better things to do on the cruise than play mind games with the head security officer.


40 thoughts on “Overheard on the cruise

  1. I’m not sure how you could play mind games with that “security officer”. He clearly doesn’t have a mind.

  2. Very interesting and disturbing story. I will say that I really didn’t have any idea that the Brits had been so totally emasculated.

    Probably for the best that you avoided making any more strongly worded comments about weapons, rights or self defense. It sounds like the young man wasn’t totally convinced that you were completely “a reasonable fellow” and supected that you were aware of his hot buttons and purposly avoiding them.

    • I really didn’t have any idea that the Brits had been so totally emasculated.

      I’ve had the impression for a while now that all the Brits with balls got killed in The War.

  3. Perhaps Norwegian Cruise Lines would like to be aware that they have an employee that is projecting his cultural mores on other people (assuming they will be frightened by the sight of a non-aggressive person with a inoffensive knife clipped to his pocket) and then using his position of authority to exceed publicly documented company policies and badger the paying customers. As he is on the inside of the company, I am sure he has his opportunity to be heard to have the publicly published restrictions updated, and he has apparently not prevailed in his efforts, as the documentation does not reflect his personal desires.

    I’m not going to make any assumptions about their corporate reaction to you carrying ordinary knives, as you do every day of your life. (As I do… and I did in England before they lost their ever-loving minds.) But I think they will have reactions to “arbitrarily adding criteria to published company restrictions” and “imposing own culture with threat of force upon non-members of that culture”.

    • In America lately it has been “Just not DONE” for a white person to project his or (less frequently) her cultural mores on other people.
      And so far from the UK (formerly known as Great Britain), too.

  4. A close friend just went on a Mediterranean cruise. The security theater actors flipped out about a plastic push dagger but ignored a full size ASP baton she also had. They probably didn’t recognize it as a weapon.

    This type of idiocy is why I avoid cruises on which weapons aren’t explicitly permitted.

  5. Interesting. Norwegian is our cruise line of choice and our recent Alaska cruise I carried on and off at every stop. I carry a Benchmade assisted opening knife, which locks, and though they checked the blade length (once!) they never gave me any headache about it otherwise. The world is a strange place. I wonder how many ACTUAL issues they’ve had? ( From talking with a couple crew members on our cruise 5 years ago, they told me staff regularly has fights. Usually both parties are put ashore at the next stop, with a plane ticket home.)

    • The food was a near constant disappointment to us. And there were numerous things that were a “notch or two” below what we had come to expect after cruises on Disney and Celebrity.

      Our plan is to avoid Norwegian in the future unless there is some compelling reason to spend our money on their substandard facilities and service.

      • Norwegian has anecdotally appeared to me as the “cheap, not inexpensive” cruise option; and have suffered in comparison to RCN, Celebrity, and Disney by those anecdotes.

    • Both? What a morally bankrupt organization. Punish the aggressor, but not the defender. To not care who started the fight cedes too much power to the aggressor who can extort entirely too much from people who do not wish to lose their jobs.

  6. Clearly a bigot who is improperly trained in multicultural tolerance – he condescendingly asks if the cruise ship looks like a farm. Anti rural, anti American, ignorant and dismissive of laws and rights. And the UK doesn’t so much have a “knife culture” as an “allow terrorists to use knives to commit terrorism” culture. England has jumped the shark.

    • I was a Boy Scout and carried a pocket knife since I was 13 years old (and daily since I was 18). I’m a city boy. Had he asked if the ship looked like a city, I could have whipped out cruise ship advertising that touts the “floating city” metaphor.
      This was a meeting of the “law is written and knowable” school and the “Law is what the uniformed man says it is” school.

    • Or how many fathers were arrested for trying to stop Muslim rape gangs from abusing their daughters.

  7. I’m tempted to ask Norwegian Cruise Lines PR department for a reaction to this.


    I hope you left some after-cruise comments on any survey that they sent. I haven’t been on a cruise since I was a teen. I don’t think I’ll be taking one any time soon given your experience.

    BTW they are a publicly traded company.

  8. This is just so offensive, particularly given that his team had checked them before. I don’t think I could have been as calm as you were, I wonder if they would have just taken my knives or helicoptered me off?
    PS I had a small spyderco on my honeymoon for an alaska cruise on celebrity. 10 years ago, but nobody mentioned anything and I never checked their website. You spend thousands of dollars on these things, we should all expect and receive better.

  9. Princess told me not to take my multi-tool off the boat again in Curacao.

    In Alaska they didn’t bat an eye to Ulus or pocket knives.

  10. There are so many fun and entertaining things to do in the world; why pay a cruise line to treat you like a mental patient and an incipient murderer?

    There is NO WAY I’m going on a cruise. I’d rather spend my time in a canoe, in bad weather, in North Idaho, and not have to deal with the rules, hassles and harassment of a cruise line. I don’t think they could PAY ME enough to tolerate behavior like that.

    And that’s the problem, and why it keeps getting worse; we tolerate it, and even subsidize it, and now the inmates truly are running the asylum. All at our expense. They could never do it without us.

    • It’s their property and they can make whatever rules they wish regarding access to their property and services, this is clearly true when they are in international waters. Celebrity and Disney don’t allow knives of any blade length on their cruise ships or islands. So I thought Norwegian was a step up in this regard. Had they said “no knives” I would have abided by their rules (or been more careful in getting them onboard) and had a much better experience. Being questioned and treated as a suspect in public, when I had abided by all their written rules, was embarrassing and extremely irritating.

      Why put up with it? Because they offer something I can’t get elsewhere at a reasonable price. How else would I get a chance to go through the Panama Canal at a price I could afford? Visiting Costa Rica, Columbia, and various places in Mexico were all made possible for a fraction of the cost and with far less hassle than those individual trips would have cost.

      My idea for a great cruise would be visits to various exotic ports with opportunities for firearms training by top notch trainers and practice during the days at sea. Good backstops for handguns should be easy enough and with a 965 foot long and over 100 foot wide ship there should be plenty of room for a few ranges. It has a bowling alley, tennis court, and a small basketball court, why not have the ability to convert one or more of these to a pistol range for a charter NRA cruise?

      • Likewise, it’s my money and I can spend on something besides a cruise where idiots are in charge.

        Idiots rarely stop being idiots at a single thing. What else is askew on that ship, and will it get you sick or injured?

        It’s almost a form of Gellmann Amnesia thinking the stupidity stops at the one department.

      • Just do it like they do on the aircraft carriers, put the targets up near the rail and the ocean is your backstop.

  11. Pingback: SayUncle » A fear of simple tools

  12. This reminds me why I hate officious pricks from Britain, they actually believe that Britain isn’t an insane asylum.

    I carry a knife in case I meet officious pricks wearing clown uniforms and forgot my gun.

  13. About a year prior to 9/11, the airlines started that sort of idiocy. Got stopped at the carry-on x-ray exam area on the return flight, and was told that my knife wasn’t allowed. (Flew into Philly from San Jose for mom’s funeral.) Half-serrated blade. Opened up my Gerber tool, showed a full serrated blade in one handle, a smooth blade in the other. That was ok! The Benchmade was considered an “intimidating weapon”. Took my carry-on back to the counter and had it checked as luggage.

    ( I think the clown was hoping I’d hand him a $150 knife. Yeah, right.)

    • And we say how well that idiocy worked a year after you got stopped at the X-ray machine.

  14. I think it was Tam who related a statement made by Roberta X: “Humans without knives are just Chimps with haircuts”.

    Hmm, might be “…bad haircuts” . Can’t find it at either blog.

    • Well, given Roberta’s sense of style, it would have to be “bad haircuts”…

  15. What’s curious is that this monkey-suited fool thought that British law was in any way relevant. It appears that Norwegian Cruise Lines mostly operates Bermuda-flagged ships, so Bermuda law would apply (plus local law when in port). They also have two US-flagged ships, says Wikipedia. But no British ones (nor Norwegian ones, curiously enough).

    • Bermuda bends the knee to English Crown. (It’s a British Overseas Territory. People drive like they’re from the mirror-universe. Etc.)

  16. Perhaps someone should tell him he no longer has an Empire to back him up.

    Of course, when there was a British Empire, their weapons laws were much more in keeping with a right of self defense.

  17. Where did you visit in Costa Rica? I was there 11 years ago and stayed a few days at Manuel Antonio Beach.

    “I still don’t understand why you have two knives.”
    And I don’t understand your fascination with British laws on a ship that is not a United Kingdom-flagged ship. And unwritten, too.

    And as for what I use a knife for, I use one for all the legal cutting tasks, as well as every task a woman uses her fingernails for, and I don’t see THEM being hassled for long acrylic fingernails.

    • We were in Costa Rica as part of this cruise and were there October 14th. We arrived about 11:00 AM and left about 11:00 PM.

      We went on a bus tour and stopped several times for touristy things. We were sort of disappointed and didn’t take many pictures.

  18. I think that it is clear he doesn’t actually know what the gun culture is. When he refers to the knife culture, he means yobs and hooligans, not lawful self defense and definitely not clubs teaching people how to use/maintain them. His analogy does not hold, despite the similarity of the terminology.

    I find that to be the most interesting bit out of the whole exchange.

    • I don’t think that Britain anymore has any such thing as “lawful self defense”.

      • Ayup:

        Then she [the constable] instructed us on how to properly be a victim. If we were attacked, we were to assume a defensive posture, such as raising our hands to block an attack. The reason was (and she spelled it out in no uncertain terms) that if a witness saw the incident and we were to attempt to defend ourselves by fighting back, the witness would be unable to tell who the aggressor was. However, if we rolled up in a ball, it would be quite clear who the victim was.
        http://www.nationalreview.com/corner/64376/frontlines-dave-kopel (2003)

        Emasculated, indeed.

  19. Right now I have a Boker Subcom pocket knife (liner lock), a Buck 110 Folding Hunter (lock blade) and a Boker (Wilson) Cop Tool ( 2″ serrated blade with gut hook) on me. At work I carry the Bokers but change to a Gerber Multitool. Guess the security guy would crap his chaps if he interviewed me…..

  20. One man’s paranoid is another man’s preparedness.

    Joe, I applaud your pro-active decision to learn defensive knife techniques. In carrying — or having access to — a reliable knife, you provide an unpaid, voluntary security service to your community, wherever you go. We salute you.

    Anti-preparedness, bigoted Security Officer Judd Hinchliffe is paranoid. We don’t salute Judd.

    Joe, thank you for taking the time to detail the questionable policy of Norwegian Cruise Line Holdings Ltd., regarding the right to self-defense.

    With a guest capacity of 2,394 and a ship crew of 1,072, who knows what could go down on The Norwegian Pearl.

    Best to be prepared.

    Also good to know:
    “Norwegian is a publicly traded company listed on NASDAQ, with major shareholders including Apollo Global Management (15.8%), Genting Group (11.1%), and TPG Capital (2.3%) as of 20 March 2017.”




  21. Worthless to argue with jerks like this. Just ask to see his supervisor as to why he is violating written company policy.

  22. Regarding locking blades- the logic of banning safety features in the hopes that a murderer might hurt themselves is mind blowing to me. The antis do it here with when they attempt to justify banning barrel shrouds.

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