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What a vacuum cleaner named Henry taught me about cruising and life

March 10 2022
6 min read
What a vacuum cleaner named Henry taught me about cruising and life
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This is a story about a cruise gone wrong and why one of my favorite parts of any Royal Caribbean voyage is a vacuum cleaner named Henry.

Long before cruising was my job, my first sailing was a three-night Bahamas voyage from Miami for college spring break on Royal Caribbean's former Majesty of the Seas. A friend and I decided to go at the last minute, booked the sailing on Expedia and paid less for it than we did for our flights to get there.

Henry incognito on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

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I was young and dumb, and I made so many travel mistakes on that cruise. I booked a flight for the day of embarkation and arrived at the airport late. The only essentials I put in my personal-item tote were my camera, my wallet and a single bathing suit with a tank top and shorts.

What I did pack that I shouldn't have was a too-big bottle of shampoo. It was obscenely expensive hair product for a college student, so I opted not to throw it away. That meant I had to return to the counter to check my bag and go back through security, which nearly caused me to miss my flight. (To this day, I have shin splints from dashing to the gate barefoot, flip-flops in hand.)

Fast-forward to the other end of that flight when my checked luggage didn't show up on the carousel. In my haste to check my bag, I didn't bother to verify the tag that the careless US Airways attendant attached to my bag. (It was someone else's, and it sent my suitcase to Fort Lauderdale instead of Miami.) Back then, I knew nothing about travel insurance, so I had only the outfit I was wearing and the bathing suit to hold me over for three days. Thank goodness I was too broke to have booked a longer sailing.

Henry giving the side eye on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

By the time we boarded, naive 22-year-old me still had hope that someone would find my bag before departure. I foolishly bought a soft drink package, which was an economic disaster for someone who drinks roughly two sodas per voyage, and I posed for photos in the atrium with my friend, wearing the same outfit that would be my uniform for the entirety of the trip.

When it was clear that my luggage wasn't going to show up, I sulked. Looking back, I should just have been happy I was traveling, but all my favorite outfits were packed, and I was genuinely worried I'd never see them again.

The next morning, as I shimmied out of the oversized Royal Caribbean T-shirt the line had given me to sleep in, pulled on my bathing suit and prepared to wash my underwear in the sink so they could dry while I was ashore, there was a knock on the door. It was our room steward checking to see if we had disembarked for the day so he could clean our room.

Ashley and Henry on Royal Caribbean's Legend of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

We made small talk briefly while my friend finished getting ready, and then I saw it: a bright blue vacuum cleaner. And it was smiling at me. My mood instantly lifted. I started laughing, and I couldn't stop.

"What is that?" I asked.

"Oh, that's Henry," the steward said. "He helps me clean."

I took out my camera and snapped a couple of photos before asking the steward to take one of me with Henry.

Henry on Royal Caribbean's Oasis of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Throughout that sailing, no matter how annoyed I was at the situation, Henry managed to shift my mood when I'd see him waiting patiently in the hallway or peeking out from the entrance to a stateroom.

My affinity for the little guy is so strong that it has turned into a joke among my cruise friends. For secret Santa one year, one of them even gifted me a miniature Henry keyboard vacuum that sits on my desk. (Yes, it comes with tiny attachments, and yes, it really works.)

Henry lurking in the shadows on Royal Caribbean's Symphony of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

Perhaps you're wondering why I've taken an entire article to tell you about cleaning equipment -- and I don't blame you. Simply, it's perspective.

That cruise was in my top three worst trips of all time, but something as simple as Henry managed to help me turn it around and appreciate where I was in the moment. Ultimately, for a number of reasons, I enjoyed the trip enough to return years later to work in the industry, and now I purposefully look for Henry every time I sail with Royal Caribbean.

Henry on Royal Caribbean's Majesty of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)

It isn't just Royal Caribbean that uses Henrys, though. They're super popular in the UK, where they're manufactured, and I've seen them in office buildings, hiding in corners at high-end stores and even on ferries. Over the past 15 years, I have amassed a sizeable collection of Henry photos throughout my travels. They live in a dedicated Henry folder that brightens my day whenever things don't go to plan.

So, the next time you're traveling and feeling like everything is going wrong, look for the little things that will remind you you're still out there seeing the world, one Henry at a time.

Featured photo by Henry being coy on Royal Caribbean's Wonder of the Seas (Photo by Ashley Kosciolek/The Points Guy)
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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6X6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
4X4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
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  • Intro Offer
    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.

    Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 points
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  • Annual Fee

    $125
  • Recommended Credit
    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

    670-850
    Excellent/Good

Why We Chose It

The Marriott Bonvoy Business Amex is a stacked card with a rewards rate that will help you earn bonus points on everyday and business-related purchases. You'll earn 15 elite night credits each calendar year, and receive automatic Gold elite status. Finally, the free night award certificate with a redemption level of 35,000 points or less can get you hundreds of dollars in potential value each year.

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  • 4x points at restaurants worldwide, U.S. gas stations, wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and U.S. shipping
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases
  • Earn a free-night award each card renewal month (up to 35,000 points)
  • Receive 15 elite night credits to jump-start status
  • Transfer Marriott points to 40+ airlines

Cons

  • Airline points transfer ratios are poor
  • Must spend $60,000 in a year for second free-night award
  • Limited Time Offer: Earn 100,000 Bonus Marriott Bonvoy Points after spending $4,000 in purchases on your new Card in your first 3 months of Card Membership. Offer expires 11/2/22.
  • 6x points at hotels participating in the Marriott Bonvoy® program.
  • 4x points for purchases made at restaurants worldwide, at U.S. gas stations, on wireless telephone services purchased directly from U.S. service providers and on U.S. purchases for shipping.
  • 2x points on all other eligible purchases.
  • Receive a 7% discount off standard rates for reservations of standard guest rooms at hotels that participate in the Marriott Bonvoy program when you book directly. Terms and Conditions Apply.
  • Receive 1 Free Night Award every year after your Card renewal month. Plus, earn an additional Free Night Award after you spend $60K in purchases on your Card in a calendar year. Awards can be used for one night (redemption level at or under 35,000 Marriott Bonvoy® points) at hotels participating in Marriott Bonvoy®. Certain hotels have resort fees.
  • Enjoy Complimentary Marriott Bonvoy Gold Elite Status with your Card.
  • Terms apply.
  • See Rates & Fees