Built into our DNA, it seems, is a deep fear of beings from outer space. We imagine if they visit our planet, it must be to attack us.
But could their reason for coming be less sinister? What if Earth was just another stop on an intergalactic cruise? What if all they wanted to do was take in the sights, sample the local cuisine and mingle with the natives?
That is, after all, the kind of agenda we have when we go on cruises to, for instance, the Mediterranean or the Caribbean.
We have no intention of attacking the people of those regions, so why should extraterrestrials, with their weird unpronounceable names, be any different?
Although in astronomical terms Earth-based cruises only cover modest distances, they nevertheless allow us to explore new worlds.
Every time we sail from a port, we leave one world behind and head towards another. Sometimes a dramatically different one.
Cruises to the Red Sea, the Far East or the South Pacific, for example, allow us to interact with cultures far removed from our everyday experience.
For us, therefore, cruising offers a chance to come into contact with lifestyles we might otherwise never encounter. Could it be the same for these alien cruisers on their multi-million light year voyages?
Long haul space cruiser
But let’s not kid ourselves. There will be differences between our cruises and theirs.
So what exactly might those differences be?
What if we were to board a long haul space cruiser from a remote star cluster and accompany our ET cousins on the next leg of their journey.
What would it be like?
Well this morning the answer came to me in a vision.
As I drifted into a trance-like state I saw myself joining a party of these long distance tourists. They were getting ready for their trip back home after a Christmas visit to Earth.
They certainly seemed keen for me to come with them, though I must admit I was concerned about their motives.
Did they want me for my personal charm, I wondered, or because I’d make an interesting specimen at the local zoo?
As I strode onto the giant vessel what I noticed about these star hopping holidaymakers was how formal they were.
Once we were all aboard, the captain addressed us over the loudspeaker, his words being automatically translated into English for my benefit.
“Salutations and felicitations space voyagers,” he proclaimed. “Before we lift off we must hold a full roll call, as is our custom.
“We cannot afford to leave anyone behind, including of course our new Earthling companion.
“It is therefore with great pleasure that I would like to formally welcome all the following passengers aboard the Intergalactic Cruise Craft, Tekceb Ecur:
Bruce Beckett, Farce Siurc, Citcalag Retnieht, Draoba Sregnessap, Gniwollof Eht, Lla Emoclew, Yllamrof Otekil, Dluowi Taht, Erusaelp Taergh, Tiw Erofereht, Siti Noin, Ap Mocgnilht, Rae Wen, Ruo Esruoc, Fo Gnidulcnid, Niheb Enoyna, Evael Otdroffa, Tonna Cew, Motsuc Ruo, Sisal Lacllorl, Lufad Lohtsum, Ewf Fotfil, Ewe Rofeb, Demi Alcorpeh, Sreg Ayov, Ecaps Snoit, Atic Ilefd, Nasno Itatulas, Tifeneb Ymrofh, Silgne Otni, Detalsnartyl Lacitamotua, Gniebs Drowsih, Rekaepsduol Eht, Revo Sudes, Serdda Niatpac, Eht Draobal, Laerew Ewecno, Erew Yeht, Lamrof Woh, Saws Rekamyadiloh, Gnippoh Rats, Eseht Tuoba, Deciton Itahw, Lessev Tnaig, Ehtot Noedorts, Isa Ooz, Lacol Ehtta, Nemiceps Gnitseretni, Naekam Diesu, Acebro Dered, Nowim Rahc, Lanosrep Ymrof, Emt Naw, Yehtdid Sevitom, Rieht Tuoba, Den Recnoc, Sawi Timdat, Sumih Guoht, Mehth Tiw, Emocot Emrofneek, Demeesyl Niatrec, Yehtth Trae, Ot Tisiv, Samtsirh Caretfa, Emohk Cabpirt, Rieh Trofy, Daer Gnitteg, Erew Yehts, Tsiruot Ecnatsid, Gnol Eseht, Foy Trapa, Gninioj Flesym, Wasi Etats, Ekil Ecnarta, Otni Detfird, Isa Noisiv, Ani Emot, Emac Rewsna, Eht Gninrom, Siht Llew, Ekil Ebtid, Luow Tahw, Yenruoj Rieht, Fogelt Xeneht, Nos Nisuoc, Teruoy Napmoccad, Na Retsulc, Rats Etomer, Amorf Resiurc, Ecaps Luah, Gnola Draobot, Erew Ewfi, Tahweb Secnereffid, Esohtt H Gimylt, Caxe Tahwos, Srieht Dnas, Esiurc Ruo, Neewteb Secnereffid, Eblliw Ereht, Sevlesruo Dikton, Steltub Segayov, Raeyt H Gil, Noillim Itlum, Riehtno Sresiurc, Neila Eseht, Rofemas Ehtebtid, Luoc Retnuocne, Reven Esiwrehtoth, Gimew Selyt, Sefilh Tiwt, Catnoc Otni, Emoc Otec, Nahcas Reffo, Gnisiurc Erofereht, Surof Ecneirep, Xey Adyreve, Ruo Morf, Devomer Raf, Serutluch Tiwt, Caretni Otsu, Wolla Elpmax, Erof Cificaph, Tuos Ehtrot, Saeraf Eht, Aes Dereht, Ot Sesiurc, Enot Nereffidyl, Lacitamard Asemitemos, Rehtonas Drawot, Daehd Nadniheb, Dlrow Eno, Evael Ewtrop, Amorf Liasew, Emity Revesd, Lrow Wen, Erolp Xeotsu, Wollas Selehtreven, Yeht Secnatsid, Tsedom Revocyl, Nosesi Urc, Desab Htraes, Mretla Cimonortsa, Nih Guohtlat, Nereffidy Naeb, Seman Elba, Ecnu Onorpnu, Driew Rieht, Htiw Slairt, Serret Artxed, Luohsy Hwos, Snoiger Esoht, Fo Elpoep, Eht Gnik, Cattafo Noitnetni, Onev Ahew, Naeb Birac, Ehtro Naen, Arret Idem, Eht Ecnatsni, Rof Otsesiurc, Noog Ewnehw, Evah Ewad, Negafod Nikeht, Lla Retfa, Sitaht Sevitan, Ehth Tiw, Elgnimd Naen, Isiuc Lacol, Ehtelp Masst, Hgis Ehtni, Ekat Sawod, Otdet Nawy, Eht Llafi, Tahw Esiurc, Citcalag Retni, Nano Pots, Rehtonat Sujsaw, Htrae Fitahw, Retsiniss Seleb, Gnimoc Rofnosaer, Rieht Dluoc, Tubsuk Catta, Oteb Tsumti, Tenalp Ruo, Tisiv Yeht, Fi Enigami, Ew Ecaps, Retuo Morfs, Gnieb Foraef, Peedasi Smeesti and Ruot Nitliub.