The Fake Newsletter Cruise Prank

I’ve written the equivalent of about 50 blog posts in the past couple weeks for a new habit book I’m writing, so you’ll have to excuse the off-topic post today. I can only write so much about serious stuff in a short time!

We got very lucky on our cruise. You’re assigned to a table in the dining room, and who you get to sit with is completely random. Our table was the two of us, two Romanian sisters around our age, and a great older British couple. Everyone had a great sense of humor, so most of dinner was spent telling stories and laughing.

Given such good humor, we thought that a small prank on our tablemates might be in order. Every night a newsletter is delivered to each room, along with an occasional supplementary letter or flyer. How hard, we wondered, would it be to make our own rogue newsletter and deliver it in the same fashion to our new friends?

Luckily, we’re both nerds. I figured out the IP address of the printer in the library and got it printing from my computer. Brian took pictures of all of the logos on the regular newsletter and worked them in photoshop to be printable again. As he did that, I laid out a basic newsletter template that was similar in style to theirs. Then we got to writing.

The idea was that we would start off mostly normal with a few funny things, and then gradually devolve the newsletter into complete madness, eventually making it obvious that it was not legitimate. We created three sections, “Did You Know?”, “The Captain’s Log”, and “Barnacle Brainteaser of the Day”.

The Did You Know section started off with strangely phrased facts that could have been true. By the end of the week, they had gradually become completely insane. Here’s a selection, one from each of the seven days:

Day 1

“Most sea creatures, like the friendly bottle-nosed dolphin, will not attack humans.”

Day 2

“When you flush your toilet, it’s dumped straight into the ocean. Most neighbors would be outraged, but the fish love it!”

Day 3

“For security purposes, all rooms, including bathrooms, aboard the Luminosa are equipped with high-resolution hidden cameras.”

Day 4

“The term “Finders Keepers” originally comes from maritime law, under which any property may be claimed simply by finding it when the owner is not around. For this reason, it is important to never leave a vessel unattended in international waters.”

Day 5

“You cabin steward did not steal anything from your room yesterday.”

Day 6

“Costa offers an innovative dining program for those passengers who are no longer physically able to chew their own food. Upon request, we can provide you with a staff member to pre-chew your meal and transfer it to you orally. Birds have been doing this for ages, but Costa is the first to bring it to cruise passengers.”

Day 7

“Due to the staff medical emergency, the Costa Luminosa’s engines are being run at 100%. You are witnessing history in the making: no cruise ship has ever run its engines this hard for this long. Our on-board scientist/dancer is confident that they will be able to run at this level safely until we reach our destination.”

The captain’s log started out normal, but it seemed that every day the captain was detained in the bridge for some semi-legitimate reason, so he ended up staying there for 72 hours straight. Eventually it becomes clear that his subordinates have imprisoned him.

The daily puzzle’s answer was related to the mediocre pizzeria on board, Andromeda Pizzeria, every single day. Along with the answer was a plea to the passenger to eat more pizza, which became increasingly desperate and threatening as the week went on.

Every day we would come to dinner and expect someone at the table to say something, anything, about the newsletter. But there wasn’t a peep. On day three, while scoping out security cameras on the top deck, the girls casually mentioned that all cabins had security cameras in them. They didn’t seem suspicious or horrified.

By day five we were amazed that no one had said anything, so we stepped it up a notch. We called out one of our friends by name, saying that she had won the “Breakfast Hog of the Day” award, and listed her cabin number for those who wanted to congratulate her in person. No response. The next day we had her win again, listed her cabin number again, and suggested that people bring breakfast leftovers to her.

Again, no response. We spent hours theorizing on what was going on. How could they not say anything about it?

On the last day, we had a new idea. We made the newsletter way over the top and obviously fake, and then an hour later delivered another letter modeled exactly after legitimate ones sent from the captain. The captain’s letter warned the passengers that a phony newsletter was going around, and urged them to turn us in if they had any information on the “two young males” who were behind this. A reward was mentioned. Instead of putting the letter in the mailbox we put it under the door. It was so official looking that the cabin steward placed it on the bed with the regular mail (pictured at top).

Finally we got a response! One of the girls came over with the letter from the captain to tell us that we were caught. We could then talk freely about the newsletter with her. She was pretty sure that it was us halfway through, but her sister was sure it wasn’t us. They liked the newsletter, so she didn’t say anything to stop it. We later found out that the other table mates weren’t getting it because we were delivering it to their neighbors. Oops.

Around that point we became embroiled in another prank gone wrong, so we never followed up with the security letter. The plan was to get someone who spoke a different language that they knew we didn’t know to call them, purporting to be from security, to try to get them to rat us out.

To see the whole series, you can click here to download the PDF.


Gear post coming in December… thinking about replacing the laptop, so waiting to decide/test.

Cruise Sheet shows itineraries now…






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