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.