The moment I had emptied, I rushed from my cabin up to deck 8 to check the pool.
On cruises in the sun I love to swim 1 or 2 times per day, although I’m sure that unless you are on a monster ship, the pools are generally a bit of a joke. On my previous two cruises, on ships of an identical size, they had been little but acceptable. This one looked the dimensions of our kitchen table. Oh God. Why failed to 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 awfully classy and superior. But then all of my previous cruises had also been with stylish operators – Silverseas and Regent 7 Stars.
When I started cruising, just over a year gone, I was told these were the 3 top quality cruise lines floating. And it’s true. All are the last words in taste and luxury.
The food on all 3 is glorious, with good wines, and as much champers as you can sup, all just a part of the inclusive bill, which, naturally, isn’t cheap. Staff cannot be faulted, and they all have about one worker to every guest.
On the Odyssey that night, after a luxurious dinner, I fell straight to sleep – then straight awake again about 1am. I could hear a couple of Americans in the next suite, chatting and laughing.
I went out on my balcony, and closed the door, but I could still hear them all night – they kept it up until I was howling. They weren’t drunk or playing loud music – just not retiring to bed at 10pm like ordinary human beings and sleeping silently 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 was silence from the American citizens. They appeared 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 generous entertainment.
Though I don’t like games, spas and quizzes and I generally find the music too loud and uninspiring, I never struggle for things to do onboard because I’m 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 every one of the 3 cruises I have so far attempted, the key dancers were a pair from Eastern Europe.
One of the good things about travelling alone on a cruise is that you do not ever need eat alone – the invites flow in, formal outlined cards for dinner dropping through the door, so you’re feeling frightfully important.
Most of all, I go on a regular excursion – even when 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 calls made and stuff organised, and you can be sure you get to see the best bits.
When I’m on my Jan holidays in the West Indies, I get angry when a cruise liner arrives, blotting out the harbour and disgorging lumpen groups who muddle up the pavements as they blindly follow some shouter with a flag or umbrella. But when I’m 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 wonderful quality also. On Odyssey, I chummed with a Big Apple lawyer and his wife, the bro of a Belfast peer, a British lady who invents toys and games, a Mexican who owns a football club and our previous envoy to Mexico who, I later found is a Lady.
The cruise started from Venice – and the exit was shocking. I have 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 through and make music. Thanks to the random nature of waves and wind, the music is always different. Scary.
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 rigid.
At Katakolon I chose an excursion to the location of the first Olympic Games. I had never realized the site was so large, more than a mile across, with so much still remaining of the churches, pillars, fitness centers and sportsmen ‘ quarters.
The stadium is rectangular so you had to run forwards and backwards. For a long race you went up and down twenty-four times. I also never knew that the ancient Olympics, which took place, as now, each four years, attracted sportsmen from all over the Greek empire – and were held for about 8 centuries.
See, cruises can be academic as well as pleasurable.
And exhausting. I did so much, conversed with so many people, that at the end I was anticipating rest. And I did get to grips with the pool. If I picked a time when it was empty, I managed 10 strokes, going slowly, with the wind against me.
My 3 cruises have fully dispelled the prejudice I once held – that cruises are for the aged, the bored, the unimaginative.I now know they come in all sorts and sizes and prices, catering for all interests, writes tagza.com.