High Seas

Lots of drugs, drinks, and titty fights, but the Climax Cruise ends in clammy anticlimax

"We had a meeting before we came here on how to handle issues like that," he says. "If anyone thinks they're gonna get lucky, the others have to leave." To up his chances of getting lucky, Steve wears a seven charm on a black leather chain around his neck. Seven is his lucky number.

"Steve is definitely on a mission," says his friend Cynthia, a good-looking girl with sweeping black hair, another of Volinsky's nonpaying guests. She would never have paid for this, she emphasizes, within earshot of the three male friends who came along at her behest (for about $300 each). They're onboard to protect Cynthia from the inevitable mashers who will pack the Ultimate Party Cruise.

"Ghetto boys" she calls the would-be glommers her boys are supposed to protect her from — the sleazy and desperate losers who make women uncomfortable. They'll be in attendance at the wet T-shirt and hot-body events, circling around women with cameras in hand, condoms in pockets, and gelled hair spiked out in every direction, like so many shark fins.

There are apparently some simple rules for inciting Girls Gone Wild aboard a cruise ship.

Bombard participants with alcohol. Offer tempting prizes. Send out insinuating, half-joking instructions via the public-address system, like, "Hey, big tits, get your ass on the stage." Repeat, repeat, repeat. Nobody seems to mind.

With expectations high, party cruisers climb the stairs to the Mermaid Lounge, where a meet-and-greet is under way.

Although radio station Power 96 has not officially sponsored the cruise and none of the festivities will be broadcast, the radio station's assistant promotions director, Jorge Diaz, and an aspiring on-air personality and spinner, 19-year-old Jonathan Stern, have come on board and split the time as DJ and host. Both rally the crowd for the initial dance contest, but recruiting is tough.

"I need three ladies. I'm looking for three ladies," Diaz intones. Nobody wants to be first. All eyes focus on the empty stage. It could be a disaster, but the DJs know better. They emphasize the free cruise. They tell the fellas to get their cameras ready and that they will be the judges of this contest. Diaz smoothly instructs "big titties" to get her "fuckin' ass on the stage."

Whether it's because of the prize being offered or the bludgeoningly misogynistic rap from the DJs, two girls wander to the front, one in jean shorts, the other in a swirling-blue bikini, both smiling sheepishly. The DJs proceed without a third contestant. After all, they need to get this party started, riiiight?

"Take it off," Diaz chants, as "Hoochie Mama" blares over the speakers. "Show us your fuckin' tits." The girls dance at about 60 percent, rocking their shoulders and staring at a fixed point just above their audience. Digital cameras flash. Nobody is even close to taking it off. For the attention deficient, songs are cut and layered on top of one another so that, in what feels like just 30 seconds, the crowd is treated to "Face down ass up!" "Me so horny!," and "Head, head, and more head!" As quickly as it started, it's over. One contestant books it off the stage, supposedly just informed that her mother is on the cruise. Eyes rolling from the DJs. Uh-huh.

More drinks, and the next crazy contest, a girl-on-girl make-out, scores a lot higher on the enthusiasm scale. A free cruise is available for anyone who participates, Stern announces.

A small brunet approaches the stage, asking for more information about the prize. How long is the cruise? Will it be just like the one she's on now? The DJs avoid the questions, merely insisting the prize is a cruise. Apparently satisfied, the brunet makes out with her friend for an agonizing 22 seconds. They don't grope each other. There's no evidence that anyone is having fun up there. The exhibition is just a means to an end, and the crowd isn't buying it.

"Can anyone top 22 seconds?" Stern wonders aloud, and suddenly the rules have changed. This is now a competition. The promise of a cruise for any contestant seems to have gone out the window.

Then two enthusiastic young women burst onto the stage in a blur of skin and long blond hair. One, who calls herself Paris, is squeezed into a short white dress; the other is in a pink bikini. They begin to attack each other's mouths, eliciting fist pumps and shouting from the crowd: "Take it off!" "Get it on!" "Eat her pussy!"

When their mouths separate for a few seconds, Diaz instructs that the clock will start over. Then Paris pushes the other girl to the wood floor and climbs on top. She's straddling her friend. Paris grinds her hips above Pink Bikini, then pulls her up to lotus position. Their tongues avoid each other like two positively charged magnets, but getting horizontal has done the trick. The crowd explodes. Paris and Pink Bikini win the cruise.

"Did you get wet? That's what we want to know!" Diaz asks as they exit the stage.

The sexual energy doesn't end with the contests. At dinner, it crackles through the Caribbean restaurant, where 100 partiers are eating alongside grandparents and young children.

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