Now that we’re ball deep in winter, my Facebook feed is starting to sprout with smug status updates around the notion of booking holidays for next summer.
I’ve had 0.05 holidays this year (we arrived back from America on 4th January and haven’t packed a suitcase since), but in 2015 we enjoyed two holidays and I thought I’d chat to you about the first one. Ladies and gents, we lost our cruise virginity. Pre-Moo but (unfortunately) post-Mouse, we roved our way around the Med and back again.
Have you been on a cruise? I think they’re a bit marmite-y. Some people swear by them. Others can’t think of anything worse than being effectively stranded on a vessel with 3000 other punters for a week.
Here are my pros and cons:
Shipshape and Bristol fashion!
- We live in Southampton. The cruise capital of the UK. With a hop, skip and a jump we went from double locking our front door to rocking out in the ship’s entrance atrium (not a euphemism). Although, as an aside, apparently Southampton is now the eighth most polluted city in Europe because of all the fuck-off great ships docking here on a permanent rotating basis. Mmmm. That lovely air.
- All we had to pay for was booze. And it became totally acceptable to eyeball one’s watch until the hand struck a second past noon, then give each other a high five and start ploughing through the cocktail menu. We were fucked by 3pm but still had time to sober up before dinner and negate a hangover. Excellent parenting tactic I’m sure you’ll agree.
“There booze in that, Dad?”
- We “berthed” in three places – Vigo, Lisbon and Porto. We tended to dock in the morning and it was actually pretty cool to wake up, open the curtains, and see a new landscape rolling in to view.
- Yeah so on that, the balcony cabins are the absolute bomb. We rapidly established that the cranny between the wardrobe and bathroom would make an ideal locale for the travel cot, being both dark and warm. Kind of like Harry Potter’s under-the-stairs prison with a bit more love thrown at it. Once she was down, we’d collapse into the loungers and have a merry glass of fizz that we’d BYOB’d from home. Or, when that ran out, a Costa from the shopping deck.
“Shall I climb on the chair and have a good look over the side?”
- 23.5 hour food availability. Not even kidding. Breakfast was served until lunchtime. Lunch was out until afternoon tea. Afternoon tea was available until the first restaurant opened for dinner. Then cheese. Oh my, all the cheese. Our go-to eatery was a family friendly (sigh) buffet style establishment where you could load up your gut like a packhorse because NO-ONE CARED and everyone else was doing it. On night 2, we discovered the continually-replenished array of cheese and biscuits. 9pm every night, therefore, my husband was dispatched to wang up a dinner plate of C&B, to be chomped on ravenously having not eaten since 6pm.
- Other cultures are hilarious, no? We were waiting to get into the Castelo de Sao Jorge in Lisbon when my gaze settled on this absolute stellar example of site Health and Safety. Coming from an engineering background (don’t worry, I only do admin shizz), I feared for an imminent RIDDOR eventuality, but dude only seemed to care about tuning in his radio.
Wouldn’t trust a spirit level on that scaffold, to be fair.
- Before we went a’cruisin’, I went to my London office for work. My friend (hi Sophie!) had the most amazing lip stain on that she got from Sephora. It was postbox red and she recommended the accompanying “setting gel”. Woe was my furrowed brow, for we have no Sephora in these parts. Fast forward a fortnight and we dock in Porto. Hello fucking Sephora megastore!! Unbridled JOY. Also, we discovered a very quaint little cafe that served the strongest, most potently caffeinated coffee on the face of the earth. Two of those each and we basically developed a third eye, with which to see strings of DNA code, aliens, and the solution to a 90 square sukodu.
The “fuckinghellthisisgreat” coffee
Where’s that plank when you need it?
- The Bay of Biscay makes for quite a lively little crossing when you’re still trying to find your sea legs. We opted for a cabin that was slightly cheaper than others because of it’s positioning on the ship, with the disclaimer that “passengers may experience higher levels of motion.” Fine, whatevs. It’s only a bit of lulling. Christ, though. For a good half day we repeatedly got to high ground, became wrought with desperation to lay down, realised our cabin was like a washing machine on a heavy soil cycle, and half crawled to the mid-desk shops. At one point I remarked to my husband that I didn’t know there was a pool with a wave machine function on board. No no, there really wasn’t.
“Wake me if I start to vomit in my sleep.”
- The creche / children’s clubs start from age two up. Any younger than two, you’re free to hang out in the baby activity room but you must stay with your child. I chanced my arm anyway. “And how old is she?” asked the perky 18 year old nursery manager. “Two. Yep, two.” I replied. “Oh. Because I have the passenger itinerary here, and it has her birthday down as next month. Do you have her passport handy?” Great. Who fucking lies about their child’s age to try and palm them off onto a stranger, so that they can scuttle off to the bar? Me, that’s who.
Mummy and Daddy need to get drunk in the bar. Time for a nap?
- We were supposed to dock at St Peter Port, Guernsey, two days before the end of the cruise. However, due to inclement weather, only one lonely tender boat full of people managed to escape before the captain announced a lockdown. For unfathomable reasons, the decision was made to let this group of 10 or so cruisers enjoy an entire morning out, while the remaining 2990 poor fuckers had to endure a bonus sea day. By this point, we’d exhausted most of the entertainment options, and the weather was shite. And Mouse. Always Mouse. Rather than camping out by the bar, then, we spent three hours in the fucking baby room making towers out of sticklebricks and colouring in treasure maps. Having eaten ourselves into obesity all week, not even the lure of afternoon tea could make it all better.
- There was a lady that my jealous-sense snaffled out on Day 1, who my husband affectionately termed Tits McGee. She was mahogony brown, with blonde hair, and enormous great tits that she barely contained within a lime green bikini. She was also RIPPED with not so much as a whisper of cellulite on her. AND she had two kids. She was fucking everywhere. My husband kept nudging me, whilst I was ploughing cheese and ice cream down my gullet, to surreptitiously alert me to her presence – over the week, we both seemed to develop a morbid fascination with her. One day (and I mean literally one day) I forced myself to the gym, on the top deck at the front of the ship. It was so choppy that I pissed about on the treadmill for precisely 52 seconds before pretending to do some abs just so I could lay down. I coerced myself to a sitting position only to see Tits McFuckingGee in lycra, bicep curling 8kg dumbbells like a pro. Bitch.
- You’re still basically in charge of a child 24/7. This transcends across all holidays, sadly. Never off duty, never QUITE in relax mode. Same parenting bollocks, different turf…
“Will you get the ‘porra’ here now!”
So! On that cheery note, are you a cruiser? Or do you prefer to stick to dry land?
– SJW November 2016