When you, dear passenger, step off the gangway for the last time, you are filled with a despondency that is barely tempered by the memories of good times. Why, oh why, you lament, does the cruise have to end? Ah, but it doesn’t have to end! Now you can book a cruise that is the last you’ll ever need to arrange. For you, the cruise will never, ever end. Indeed, it’s for eternity. Cool, huh? Not really. You’ll be dead.
My Final Cruise specializes in arranging details for those who have ‘moved on’ into the sea from cruise ships. Their website is most interesting reading.
Now, you will not be trussed in an old sail—the final stitch poked through your nose to ensure that you are, in fact, dead—and dumped overboard, where your body will sink slowly the long, long way down to the muddy ocean floor, there to be picked apart by large white crabs and other such detritus-eaters. Nope, none of that good stuff. You’re not a pirate, after all. You’ll be cremated long before any of that. My Final Cruise offers a selection of biodegradable urns, which is required by the International Maritime Organization. Prices range from $149 to $324 apiece, depending on your preferred style. After the ashes have been dropped overboard – which must be done outside of the 12-nautical mile limit – these special urns guarantee that the ashes will be dispersed in an environmentally friendly fashion, and that none of the ashes will wash up on the shore. Don’t want to traumatize any swimmers, now.
The company sells receptacles pre-approved by the necessary bodies—pardon the pun—so you don’t violate the strict oceanic policies regarding what can and cannot go overboard. The ‘scallop shell’ urn comes in three colors and costs $324.95. For cheap people such as myself, the simple ‘locker’ comes in six shades and costs an easy-on-the-funeral-budget $149.95. Of course, you have to book an actual cruise, so that’s gonna run up the final cost. You’ll probably save a lot on flowers, though, assuming you don’t buy any on board. Most cruise lines will allow such crematory activity, but must be notified beforehand. This is not something you want to pop on the captain during a champagne meet and greet. My Final Cruise can book the entire cruise for you, via an affiliate cruise agent, so you don’t have to mess with such pesky details. They can also arrange commemorative touches onboard, like a post-ceremony repast. Thus all you have to worry about is packing extra formal wear. The time of the ceremony depends on where the ship is—gotta be outside 12 nautical miles and, thusly, in international waters—and weather conditions. Under ideal circumstances, they say, it takes about seven minutes for the urn to sink.
The exact location where your ashes will be dropped is recorded in the site's database of funereal sites at sea. Via Google Earth, anybody can, uh, appreciate the location. The choice is yours whether to post a public obituary or just a simple ‘X marks the spot’. As of 2012, the site only has two marked locations, one between South Carolina and Bermuda and another just north of Saint Martin. In fact, neither marker represents a real burial at sea site yet; they are merely samples. But the company hopes to be seeing lots of dead people in their world map soon. Don’t we all.
Because of the waveblazing manner of their business, My Final Cruise has had to feel their way around a little bit. They had to brainstorm worst-case scenarios—wouldn’t that be fun?—to build a solid reputation in a sensitive new industry.
“We don’t want deaths being staged as part of a stag party or something,” explains Abbie Sturdley of My Final Cruise. The company requires customers to provide them a death certificate, even though only the Bermuda Maritime Administration actually requires one. Strudley says attempts to partner with cruise lines, which they initially pushed for, were unsuccessful. “Because it’s a sad occasion, lines don’t really want to associate with it,” she says. Still, as global environmental agencies tighten policies, she hopes that lines will start referring potential ash spreaders to My Final Cruise. Hope springs eternal!