I have never been a big fan of journeys especially the back-aching car drive to the South of France, the mind numbing overnight flight to Kathmandu, the slow and constant stopping train journey to Glasgow. Each presents an opportunity to practice the deepest of Buddhist meditation techniques or of making oneself a firm candidate for the Nobel Peace Prize by being kind to lager guzzling football fans on the train, airport security staff who think my wife’s hairbrush is a knife, or French drivers in general! Destinations rule OK!
Cruises are different, a ship is a luxury city that moves, it has restaurants, bars, cinemas, theatre, coffee bars, shops, a library, a casino, a games room, swimming pools, a spa, a gym. Entertainments are available across each day; quiz sessions, wine tasting, dance classes, yoga and tai chi sessions, bingo, plays and musicals, themed talks and lectures, cookery classes, concerts, discos and dances ……… and lots of interesting people, some on their first cruise, some who do a dozen or so each year!
On our last cruise we met a couple who were both in their early 90s and unmarried. Each had lost their partners a decade or so ago and they had come together in companionship via their love of cruising. They had been round the world three times, had completed almost 100 cruises, and often took back-to-back cruises which needs a little explaining. They told us that as you were ending a cruise, say with a couple of days to go, you could get EXTREMELY cheap deals on wherever the ship was going next provided it was a 24 hour turn around. They were just completing a Mediterranean cruise with us, and prior to this they were ending a Caribbean cruise in Southampton and got a 50% discount to carry on. Yesterday they decided to stay on the ship as it disgorged it’s current passengers and took on new ones before setting sail for 10 days in the warmth of The Canary Islands. They were absolutely adamant that it’s a cheap way to live as well as being “quite exciting” because of no food bills or utility bills, no fuel bills, etc etc. They are waited on hand and foot and have round the clock entertainment. They were so enthusiastic in telling us I always have a smile on my face when I think about this marvellous old couple who said the only downside is needing almost a years supply of their daily medications in a separate suitcase!!!
“Being aware of fellow travellers is worthy of mindful attention. Everyone has their own story, their own journey and their own preoccupations. Allow them space ……. and courtesy.” (The little book of Mindful Travel)
Here are a few impressions of a typical day “at sea”: