Hello. My name is Emma and I go on cruises. Mostly, so far on P&O ships out of Southampton, but other perfectly good cruise companies are available. ;-) When I can, I con my parents into paying for my ticket.
When I travel, I blog. If you would like to read it all, it can be found at my PS. The Post have asked me to proffer some edited highlights of my ramblings, which I shall now inflict on you forthwith. Enjoy.
Jinx and high jinks
I don't know if I mentioned this earlier, but I have been convinced for some time that this cruise is jinxed. What with my mosquito-induced ear ache, dad's tooth ache, mum's wrist, someone else broke their wrist in Singapore, there was the bloke with the suspected detached retina (false alarm apparently), a woman fell from a tour bus and broke her ankle, another friend was in the medical centre for two days with a migraine, it's not going well! Although I must admit, we have had good weather pretty much throughout (apart from the snow at the start and the occasional misty rain as we cross from one weather front to another), and the sea has been relatively forgiving throughout, with very little in the way of bumpiness.
But the jinx isn't just confined to on-board. A week after we leave Beijing, there's an earthquake there, we're currently on our way to Townsville which has had more rain in the past fortnight than in the past four years put together, and where is our last stop? Madeira. Yesterday, over 32 people died in mudslides in Madeira. I've been watching the footage today of the rain running down streets in Funchal that I know and recognise, past restaurants I've eaten in and rushing into the sea opposite the cruise ship berth. Of course, you can't blame earthquakes in Haiti or minaret collapses in Morocco on us, as we're not due to visit either, but it's easy to see how superstitions can form! In the past we've been in Phuket and Colombo three months after the tsunami, Sharm El Sheikh just weeks before a bombing, and Pago Pago (pronounced Pango Pango, for newcomers to my blog - also known as American Samoa if you want to try and find it on a map) just weeks before a series of not one, not two, but three hurricanes hit. If I lived near the sea, I would certainly ban P&O ships from visiting!
I appreciate that most of these are entirely natural disasters, but if you were of a superstitious nature, you'd watch the itineraries of P&O ships with a great deal of interest and concern! Anyway, today is Black and White Night. This is a formal night where the dress code is not just formal but limited colour-wise to... black and white. The men are allowed to wear cream tux jackets, obviously, and the Scots, kilts, and the women would only get a funny look if their dress contained other colours, but with everyone in black and white, the overall effect is lovely. Very much like the Ascot scene from My Fair Lady. Only without the hats.
I even have to apply make-up! Yes! I know! It's ridiculous! For the more curious of you, I am today wearing the House of Lords dress (empire line with A-line black voile layered skirt with a heavily beaded bodice). I've decided against the matching beaded jacket tonight. Instead, I'm wearing a small black knitted bolero I got in Monsoon in January. It has three-quarter length sleeves with three buttons at the cuffs and it is fitted, with a curved shape round the.. um... important bits. Black elasticated sandals, I think, because although they're not the prettiest shoes I own, the ship is moving slightly and they have the widest, and therefore most stable, heel!
Sunday 9pm: Not everyone is wearing black, white and cream. I've seen one woman wearing a bright red dress and another in bright green. Seriously? Is black and/or white such an exigent demand? How hard can it be, really? Pathetic attention-seeking, if you ask me. I mean, honestly. Black and/or white. Learn to read – it's on the front page of the paper. You must have read it to realise it was a formal night. It says Dress: Formal/Black and White. It's not like you didn't know it was Black and White night. If you only read the inside pages of the paper, you'd have seen that there's a Black and White Ball tonight at 9.30. Wasn't that a clue?!
Monday 6pm: An update as to fellow passenger rudeness. Yesterday, I was sitting in the self-service restaurant (venue for so many of these incidents). I was sitting with my back to the window and there was a row of tables for two along the window behind me. A friend of mine passed the table and stopped to talk to me. Suddenly, my chair tipped up, with me in it! I can't tell you how startling it was. When I landed, I looked round to see a man sitting down at a table by the window. He had clearly needed more space in order to get past and instead of, oh, I don't know, SAYING something, or ASKING me to pull my chair in, as would have been polite, or just drawing my attention to his presence, so that I could voluntary move aside, he just picked it up, with me in it, and moved it out of his way! The woman I was talking to was gobsmacked. She just stared at me and I stared back at her. We were both too stunned to say anything! What can you say? I threw a “An excuse me would have done!” after him, but he didn't even turn his head. That's the sort of behaviour and attitude we have to deal with on a daily basis. They're unbelievable, these people. Seriously, you couldn't make it up. If you're in their way, they just shove you aside. Literally.
Today in Spanish I learned how to say "I am fat with long brown curly hair". So there you go. Oh, you want the actual phrase? Estoy gorda y tengo pelo liso castaño y largo. I think. Not much use to any of you, though! Today we were taken on a tour of the Bridge. This is a rare honour, bestowed on very few, and we're not supposed to talk about it. Suffice to say it was DEEPLY cool and I took over 200 photos. It's hilarious that a 77,000 tonne vessel that's a sixth of a mile long is steered with a joystick no larger than a biro. No, really. I kid you not. A joystick less than four inches tall. Fascinating. Needless to say, the view is sublime! Gotta go. Dinner time.
4am: The Oriental Deck Party was moved from the Riviera Deck (open air around one of the pools) down into Masquerade (the nightclub) due to "inclement weather". It was, nonetheless, a SUPERB night – hence me blogging at 4am... Everyone who had bought oriental-style clothing over the last leg wore their finery and there were some beautiful clothes on view. I wore my new cream raw silk shirt with cream dragons embroidered on it that I bought on the junk in Vietnam, with black trousers and black flat sandals (if it's inclement enough to party indoors, it's moving enough to wear flats rather than heels!). Have to charge the camera and download the photos before tomorrow, as it is the 'Crossing the Line' ceremony at 2pm. When any ship crosses the Equator, and this isn't just cruise ships, it's all sea vessels the world over, you have to ask the permission of King Neptune. Usually, on fishing and other working vessels, this means that those who have never crossed before get a dunking in either the sea or a bucketful over the head. On P&O it used to mean competitions and games and some passengers ending up in the pool. Of course, Health and Safety, in concert with the insurers, no doubt, put an end to that, and now we simply play for points and the crew get dunked on our behalf. It's going to be 80 in the shade, so the pool should be a reasonable temperature and I doubt they'll catch a chill! They seem to be putting a lot of effort into it – I've heard rumours of dance routines from my crew mates, and our friends, Alfie and Kate, will be involved (Alfie is the world's smartest, most erudite, best educated and most polite seven-year old and Kate is his lovely and quite infuriatingly beautiful mum), so we have to go and I have to have plenty of room on my camera's memory card!