Sunday, March 01, 2015

Ahoy there!

Dylan always says:

"When you stay in a hotel people say 'Good morning ' at breakfast and 'Good evening at dinner' and that's it.'
That 's why he is such a fan of cruising.  For a start it is never obvious that you are travelling alone.
On my first cruise there was a drinks party for single people and there were over a hundred there - all ages - none of whom had seemed to be alone.

Each night the ship's newspaper is put through your cabin door with the next day's highlights for you to peruse and plan your day - or not - if you are feeling idle and just want to go with the flow.

There'll be a choice of - say - a guest speaker in the Neptune lounge describing the origins of WW1
up to the Armistice in 1918, an Intermediate Bridge Class as well as Absolute Beginners Bridge Class, a Drinks party to hear about the other ships of the line and their various cruises, Beginner's Dance Class (I'm saying nothing!) Craft Class , Classical Concerts etc, etc, etc.

The paper is very handy to have on one's person because it reminds you on which deck the seven bars are situated as well as the four restaurants and their times.  I made a point of using the stairs rather than the lift and didn't put on weight on either cruise.  The ready availability of all kinds of food makes it easy to make the right choices and still relish the cuisine.  You are consigned to a particular restaurant for dinner but for lunch and breakfast the choice is yours and should you not feel like dressing up on a formal night you can get  a perfectly good meal in the Café.

One night there was a formal protest from a man who insisted on appearing for the formal night tieless and in an anorak.  He refused the waiter's offer of a jacket and tie but it  was all a bit silly as he could have eaten in the less formal café without changing.

When the ship is docked there are usually at least four different excursions which you are told about and book before the holiday.  If people just want to wander ashore but would like some company they muster in one of the named public rooms and everybody is taken care of.

When you join the ship initially you are given what looks like a credit card made out with your details and this is a vital piece of equipment.  It identifies you and pays for everything you may need on board.  It's so nice whilst on the ship not to have to use filthy lucre and it is very easy to check what you are spending by looking at your cabin details on the TV.

Apart from the various evening entertainments there is always very pleasant music in the various lounges and bars.  A particular favourite was the Rosario String Trio and we were delighted to see them again on the last cruise.

One lunch time I was eating alone because the 'boys' had gone ashore in the tender  and I didn't want to risk banging my arm so I decided to be adventurous and try the restaurant on the top deck.  It was beautifully lit from the large windows and I saw a woman alone with a brave, bright smile on her face which reminded me of myself - the first time dining alone.  I was all set to keep her company but the head waiter had other ideas and I was whisked to another table.
The boys liked this restaurant as they discovered they could get Eggs Bendict for breakfast there and  when Dylan and I meet again in October we have chosen it for our main restaurant.

A great bonus of cruise life is the charming waiters and waitresses - predominantly Filipino.  They are kind and loving to the elderly and frail.  It is no rare sight to see a tiny waitress kneeling at the feet of an elderly person as if with a beloved grandparent whilst taking their drink order.  Whilst I found it difficult to remember precisely the drink I had chosen as a regular aperitif- my waitress would remind  me - or Lady Patricia as she insisted on addressing me.

A very sad moment on the plane from Tenerife was when  I was eavesdropping on two really old ladies.  One of them had still a beauty about her with loose tendrils of silver hair straying from the ancient hairpins.
In her gentle quavery voice she said:

"And then my little girl gave me such a lovely hug.  Such a lovely hug."

A few moments reflexion and then she said:

"Then she went through the door and I never saw her again.  Never saw her again."

P.S.  It's just dawned on me that my recent reluctance to do a post was probably because typing - although my arm is very much better - uses quite different muscles and tendons and is subsequently not quite back to normal.


LL Cool Joe said...

That's interesting because one of the things that would put me off a cruise is wearing formal clothes in the evening. I wouldn't mind doing it once, but part of the joy of a holiday for me is wearing the clothes I like wearing, caps and all, but I'd be happy just to eat in a cafe and would definitely respect the dress code in the more formal restaurant, as long as I could eat somewhere and dress the way I want, I'd be happy.

Pat said...

Joey: I have to admit it is my least favourite evening. Men always seem to think 'the ladies love dressing up!!!!'
There was one lady who had been someone important on board and she wore a different baseball cap every night. One night was a patriotic night and she had 3 caps on. I congratulated her on her sparkley caps and asked 'Why three?'
She withered me with a glance and said' I would have thought it was obvious.'
I had forgotten the patriotic theme - the caps were a red a white and a blue. Stupid me:)

The Cloudcutter said...

Hope your arm is back to normal soon. The end of your post is so sad yet beautiful. You've described the woman and the conversation so vividly that I feel like I was there too. Wonderful writing as always dear Pat. Hugs.

Kim Ayres said...

I'm impressed you didn't put on any weight - everyone I know who's gone on a cruise comes back at least a stone heavier than when they left

Pat said...

CC: it is a great place for people watching without being obvious:)

Kim: believe me I didn't go without and there is the opportunity to have about seven meals a day. A bit of self control is called for:)

Anonymous said...

I love dressing up, I don't get much of a chance to do it though. :D

Ms Scarlet said...

I am another one who likes the dressing up as I don't get much opportunity in a muddy field in Devon.
Dressing up and the writing stories of fellow passengers - what more could you want?

Pat said...

Helen: have you thought of trying a cruise?

Scarlet: Put like that it does sound attractive:)

rashbre said...

I enjoyed that description and feel I'm getting proper sense of your recent adventure!

OldLady Of The Hills said...

Pat, my dear....the way you write about this cruise it makes me wish I could go on one, too. I never wanted to take a cruise, but your description makes it all sound delightful and with so very many choices in what is available to one, food-wise and activity-wise, too....I'm afraid I would not have any will power to refuse my favorite--Eggs Benedict, every morning.....
It all sounds absolutely lovely, my dear....!

I'm sorry I haven't been around much----I have been quite ill with a Bronchial something-or-other, on top of my already compromised lungs....No energy for anything. This is one of my best days in quite a while----but, I'm still not 100%. I hope your arm keeps getting better and better, my dear.

Pat said...

Rashbre: thank you that's good to hear.

Naomi: thank goodness the winter will soon be over and your health problems will improve. I pray so Naomi.
I shall have Eggs Benedict on my next cruise and think of you and Dylan and Bubbles. They asked me to join them on a cruise in July
but two cruises in one year is more than enough. It takes quite a lot of preparation. I'll be sad to miss Bubbles but I shall see Dylan in October. DV

angryparsnip said...

How lovely you write about your recent cruise.
It does sound like your are having a wonderful time. But no more dancing on the stage.
I am happy to hear your arm is healing.

cheers, parsnip

Exile on Pain Street said...

What a killer ending! I didn't see that one coming. Well done. A nice moment.

I'm taking my first-ever cruise later this year. It's a family affair with in laws and such. It'll go one way or the other. Fingers crossed.

Pat said...

Parsnip: alas and alack - into each life a little rain must fall. If I don't concentrate my shoulder slips out. Not nice!

Exile: at the time it gave me a little sob inside.
What larks you'll have with the family. Whatever - it's all copy:)

Anonymous said...

Hubby would love to go on one, I am not too sure. I don't know why so it's no good asking me. Maybe I will look into it.

Pat said...

Helen: Alastair and I never fancied them - being slightly reclusive - until it was too late.
No regrets we did all we could in the time we had.

Guyana-Gyal said...

What happened to the woman dining alone with a brave, bright smile on her face? Did she get company after all?

Oh, oh, that poor old dear who never saw her little girl again. I wonder what happened.

There's something so delicate about they way you've written this post, Pat. Love it.

Pat said...

GG: the woman with the B.B. smile - I never saw again - as so often happens on board.
The P.O.D. I assume was talking about one of the crew - either her cabin stewardess or one of the waitresses in one of the bars.
She could have been a spinster who had never had children or a loving relationship with young person and it is an eye opener to see what close bonds are formed in so short a time