In which Tenny looks at the perfect way to celebrate the season, without actually setting sail…
It is definitely ‘the most wonderful time of the year’ right now. The presents are wrapped and under the tree, the TV is showing White Christmas, a hot toddy is on the stove, and we’re safely inside out of that bloody incessant wind.
And we have a festive story for you this week, something that rings with the promise of the season and still has the right ocean-going vibe. So gather round the computer, good gentlefolk, and settle back in your armchairs with a glass or mug of something suitable. If you need to go off and get a nice hot cup of cocoa (or something stronger), we’ll wait….
Now, we would like to tell you all about our big Christmas cruise. We would like to, but we can’t. Because, after comparing notes this week, neither of us can hold our hand up to ever having been at sea over the Yuletide period.
We know. Scandalous, isn’t it? How come two esteemed cruise ‘experts’ of multiple years standing (and more than 100 voyages between us) have never put to sea over Christmas?
Well, it’s like this. A long time ago, in a Galaxy far, far away…Oh, no, wait. That’s a completely different story that we just saw at the cinema. No, it’s a far more mundane tale of family, Christmas obligations, work, and the real world. Not very enticing at all, really.
So, instead, let’s tell you something really interesting about the cruise world at this time of year.
It’s easy to see the attractions of taking a sea-going voyage in December. The last time I looked in the kitchen, Treadwell was buried under a mound of baking tins, half-burnt oven gloves and trays of semi-decorated biscuits. I guess once I finish this column I’ll have to go and dig her out.
Mind you, I could just waft a G&T in her direction and she’ll find her own way back to the living room. She usually does.
Looking around the rest of the house, my half-hearted attempt at putting up the decorations pretty much started and finished with a line of tinsel from the tree – which has already shed about 60 per cent of its needles – to the central chandelier, and looks pretty bloody stupid from this angle, while half the decorations on the tree have been battered into oblivion by the dog’s tail every time she gallops past. Ridiculous animal.
Yes, the presents are in place and the star at the top of the tree actually works this year, but that’s a pretty poor return for half a day’s work and a lot of swearing.
We will, of course, be having friends and relations around at various stages through the next five days, and we will have to grin and bear it through Uncle Henry’s long-running battles with gout; Cousin Harriet’s ongoing saga of her drains; and Treadwell’s Great Aunt Matilda, who still thinks she can sing and play the piano, but does it about as well as the Conservatives can negotiate any aspect of Brexit. Which is to say, like Great Aunt Matilda’s singing. Dreadful.
It is enough to drive you to drink. Or, in this case, to seriously contemplate taking a cruise next Yuletide.
Our good friends Marjorie and Dennis left yesterday. For a cruise. Looking disgustingly smug and happy. While we’re serving up turkey leftovers, they will be sunning themselves on deck in the Caribbean, with oceans of rum punch, and no blasted relatives in sight.
It makes perfect sense. All the cruise lines have quickly realised there is an enormous market in appealing to those who don’t want burnt potatoes and Christmas crackers that go ‘Pfft’ instead of ‘Snap’.
They will lay on the decorations, the meals and the Christmas spirit, and there’s absolutely no danger of running out of Bombay Sapphire just after the supermarkets have closed for the week.
Just take a look at what some of the lines are offering for their Very Merry Cruises this month:
- Father Christmas will be a notable feature of all Cunard’s voyages over most of December
- Hot mulled wine will be served on arrival at the passenger terminal with that British-centric company Cruise & Maritime Voyages
- Tinsel & Hogmanay will be a theme for Fred Olsen Cruise Lines, ensuring more traditional British festivities
- Equally, there will also be a time-honored air to the seven seasonal sailings of P&O, who promise a total of 249 Christmas trees. Yes, 249!
- Celebrity Cruises will feature pop-up atmospheric performances involving “winter escape elves” (OK, that may sound a touch OTT)
- Gingerbread houses, whimsical reindeer and a proper turkey dinner will all feature aboard Crystal Cruises
- Even Carnival Cruises, of all people, have no fewer than 10 separate festive events to go with their seasonal sailings, from a Tree Lighting ceremony to a Ho-Ho-Holiday stage show
It all adds up to a lot of festive frolics with the minimum of organisation and faffing around with tinsel and the like. Treadwell will avoid burning herself (again), and the relatives will be thousands of miles away (unless someone tips them off about our little plan for 2018. You won’t will you?).
So there you have it. The obvious way to really enjoy Christmas – let someone else do it all while you sit back and admire it. There’s no danger of being snowed on and the cruise lines really do go out of their way to ensure everyone is suitably in the festive mood.
Meanwhile, back at T&T Towers, all we have to look forward to is piles of washing up and Uncle Egbert cheating at cribbage. Maybe the answer is not to go to sea at all. We just need to get rid of the damned relatives. As some famous Dickens character once said: Christmas? Bah, hum-bugger it.