The instant I had unpacked, I rushed from my cabin up to deck 8 to check the pool.
On cruises in the sun I really like to swim several times a day, even though I’m sure that unless you are on a monster ship, the pools are usually a bit of a joke. On my prior 2 cruises, on ships of a similar size, they’d been tiny but sufficient. This one looked the scale of our kitchen table. Oh God. Why didn’t I check? All my fault.
I was with Seabourn, on their good ship Odyssey, or yacht, as they like to call it, as they are very stylish and superior. But then all of my prior cruises had also been with classy operators – Silverseas and Regent 7 Stars.
When I started cruising, just over a year ago, I was told these were the 3 top-notch cruise lines floating. And it’s true. All are the last words in taste and luxury.
The food on all three is fantastic, with good wines, and as much champers as you can sup, all a part of the inclusive bill, which, naturally, is expensive. Staff can not be faulted, and they all have about one employee to each guest.
On the Odyssey that night, after a sumptuous dinner, I fell directly to sleep – then straight awake again about 1am. I could hear a couple of US people in the next suite, speaking and giggling.
I went out on my balcony, and shut the door, but I could still hear them all night – they kept it up till I was howling. They weren’t drunk or playing loud music – just not heading off to bed at 10pm like standard human beings and sleeping quietly until 7am.
In the morning I asked to change cabins – no chance. The ship was full ; 437 on board and no spare suite. I told myself that was it, I had done with cruising, I’d stick to hostels from this point on, or tents.
But the next night there had been silence from the American citizens. They seemed to have settled down, though they don’t often left their cabin. Goodness knows what they were doing, but I have spotted that on all cruises about a third of guests do nothing and go nowhere, despite all the handsome entertainment.
Though I don’t like games, spas and quizzes and I often find the music too loud and uninspiring, I never struggle for things worth doing onboard because I am making a point of meeting as many fellow guests as practicable.
On this cruise I accepted all dinner invites that came my way, including one from the Danish captain of the Odyssey and another from a Romanian dancing couple. Funny how, on each one of the three cruises I’ve so far tried, the main dancers were a couple from Eastern Europe.
One of the good things about travelling alone on a cruise is that you never need eat alone – the invites flow in, formal printed cards for dinner dropping thru the door, so you are feeling frightfully crucial.
Most of all, I go on a daily excursion – even if it’s an extra, which it was with Seabourn.
My 6 expeditions came to Â£349. I know you can do it cheaper by hiring your own taxi or getting a bus, but it is good to have choices made and stuff arranged, and you can be sure you get to see the best bits.
When I am on my January holidays in the West Indies, I get mad when a cruise liner arrives, blotting out the harbor and disgorging lumpen groups who clutter up the pavements as they blindly follow some shouter with a flag or umbrella. But when I am one of the lumpen ones, it quite entertains me to be led around.
The worldclass lines keep the groups small, the guides are good and your fellow guests are of fantastic quality as well . On Odyssey, I chummed with a New York counsel and his spouse, the brother of a Belfast peer, an English lady who invents toys and games, a Mexican who owns a soccer club and our former ambassador to Mexico who, I later found is a Dame.
The cruise started from Venice – and the exit was striking. I’ve been to Venice many times, but I do not remember seeing any cruise ships.
Yet we sailed right past all the wonders, gaping into all the palaces. We crossed the Adriatic to Croatia, stopping at Zadar for a tour of the well-preserved old town.
The most weird thing was a modern creation, right on the front – a sea organ. Don’t ask me how it worked, but they have somehow landscaped the esplanade leaving 35 holes for the sea and wind to blow and surge thru and make music. Thanks to the random nature of waves and wind, the music is always different. Spooky.
We did Dubrovnik and Kotor, a superb walled town in Montenegro.Then on to Greece, stopping at Corfu and Santorini, where I took the wire car up the sheer cliff, scaring myself stiff.
At Katakolon I chose an excursion to the location of the original Olympic Games. I’d never realised the site was so large, more than a mile across, with so much still remaining of the temples, pillars, gymnasiums and athletes ‘ quarters.
The stadium is oblong so you had to run forwards and backwards. For a long race you went up and back down 24 times. I also never knew that the ancient Olympic games, which happened, as now, each 4 years, attracted sportsmen from all over the Greek empire – and were held for about 8 centuries.
See, cruises can be educational as well as delightful.
And exhausting. I did so much, conversed with so many folk, that at the end I was looking forward to rest. And I did get to grips with the pool. If I picked a point in time when it was empty, I managed 10 strokes, going slowly, with the wind against me.
My three cruises have totally dispelled the prejudice I once held – that cruises are for the aged, the bored, the unimaginative.I now know they come in all types and sizes and costs, catering for all interests, writes tagza.com.