Joyce Carol Oates published “Ladies and Gentlemen:” in the December 1990 edition of Harper’s Magazine. The entire short story is written as speech that the captain of the cruise ship S.S. Ariel gives. The story begins as the captain apologizes to his passengers for the cruise ship not being quite as luxurious as the passengers might have expected. As the speech continues it becomes apparent that the purpose of the cruise is more than a wonderful vacation and a gift and vacation from the passenger’s grown children. The cruise ship’s lack of parallels to the promised luxurious cabins and friendly staff advertised in the travel brochures is the least of the misgivings the retired passengers had about the cruise. The purpose of the cruise is to dispose of the retirees on the high South Seas so that the retirees’ children can execute their wills without delay. The tone is satirical and borders on the absurd.
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