Passengers discover the “law of the laundry” aboard the Queen Victoria

Since All Things Cruise began soliciting ship and port reviews a couple of months ago, I have edited several hundred of these before approving them for posting (we do try to catch all spelling and punctuation errors). But today I read one that was both poignant and funny…and, of all things, it was about laundry!

Here it is, written by Genevieve from Australia:

When travelling, no matter how free the spirit or unplanned the journey, there are certain laws that bind us together as part of the human race. For example, think about the law of averages, the law of the jungle and, of course, Murphy’s law! On board a recent Cunard cruise I discovered there is another law from which no traveller is exempt, and one in which these other laws apply. It is the “law of the laundry.”

On a 15-night cruise on the stately Queen Victoria, the guest laundries (conveniently located on five decks) were bound to be busy. This was intensified by the virulent strain of Norovirus on board for which sanitation measures were bumped up to prevent further outbreaks. The strict measures included shutting the public laundries for two separate periods of two hours in order to disinfect all the surfaces.

This cut down the washing and drying time by four precious hours a day and passengers began to show their true colors (as well as their dirty whites), as the laws took effect. First, the law of averages, because for every washing machine on board there were approximately 300 passengers with dirty laundry. This doesn’t include the people staying in suites who had access to their own valet, and those passengers who were happy to pay for their laundry to be ‘sent out’ at a cost.

The law of the jungle, meaning every man for himself, came on the heels of the law of averages within this cruising community. While some people were happy to queue for anything (especially afternoon tea), others would do anything to avoid a queue and would stoop to any measures. These miscreants could be found using two machines at once, or worse, loading the same machine again, after one load had finished. These loathsome creatures incurred the ire of fellow cruisers, who innocently presumed that once that machine was empty, they would have a chance to put in a load.

 If they protested, the offenders would just sneer and leave the laundry, knowing that those who queued were too scared to fight back. The predators could also be known to re-enter the laundry environs, when all their prey were snoozing or eating, and take the prey’s washing out of machines, wet or dry, in order to do their own loads, not giving a fig about folding or fluffing.

And this is where Murphy’s law fits in, dictating that anything that can go wrong will go wrong. Leaving laundry unattended became risky as some passengers went beyond the pale by stealing items of laundry; usually a single sock here, a pair of running shorts there. No doubt, they would merely laugh at the pathetic signs tacked to bulletin boards pleading for the return of the beloved items.

One episode took on urban legend status in its blatant lawlessness. It involved a missing dress from one passenger’s laundry. Upon finding the dress missing, the lady took herself to afternoon tea to cheer herself up. There, she saw her missing dress being worn by a fellow passenger, whom she approached and challenged on the theft. The other woman feigned indignation and objected to being quizzed. When the rightful owner said it was her dress and she had made it with her own two hands, the thief replied, “Prove it!”

On behalf of all those law abiding laundry users, I can only hope that the some other law soon reigns down upon these unlawful kinds of passengers.

Hmmm…and I am left wondering if the woman was able to prove she made that dress!

In general, I never, ever plan to do laundry on a ship, except for hand laundering of underwear ( I recommend the silky kind that dries fast, for both men and women). The only exception was on the Disney cruise, when we had to do laundry for our granddaughter who was a toddler and went through several outfits a day. Most ships, quite frankly, do not have public laundries any more. It’s nice that the Queen Victoria provides this service, but I would not count on it.

Keep your wardrobe basic. Wear lots of black and beige and mix in some cute tops and T-shirts and maybe a sundress or two in hot climates. You would be amazed how little you actually need.

About Cynthia Boal Janssens

Cynthia Boal Janssens is the editor and chief blogger for She is a former national president of the Society of American Travel Writers (SATW). She has sailed on over 40 cruises all over the world.

2 Responses to Passengers discover the “law of the laundry” aboard the Queen Victoria

  1. Linda ~ Journey Jottings September 16, 2010 at 7:10 am #

    What an hilarious story!

    Do hope the lady who lost here handmade dress was able to reveal some dressmaking detail only she would have known!
    Incredible the audacity knowing that the owner would be within the confines of the vessel, and a confrontation was possibly inevitable.

  2. Genevieve Frew October 28, 2012 at 10:02 pm #

    Thanks for commenting on my story. I have a blog now, on which you will find more travel and cruise related stories. Enjoy, and please feel free to comment on the blog too.

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