It all started with a simple enough question: What do you most remember about a cruise? A pretty straightforward query, you’d think. But it genuinely set us thinking.
Now, the back-story to this is the fact we’re seen as the ‘old codgers’ of our local – the Methuselahs of the Snug Bar, the Galapagos tortoises of travel.
Actually, it all started when one of the regulars – smug git that he is – asked us what it was like taking a cruise on The Ark, and did all the animals get in the way? We soon set him straight. It was a lot cleaner than his cottage in Church Lane, we insisted; and it smelled WAY better.
But, as is often the case in The Bloated Goat, the conversation turned to genuine travel topics, and the question of WHY we take holidays in the first place. For those who deal with The Daily Grind of commuting to the city and back each day, it’s easy – it’s so as not to have to commute to the city and back each day.
For others, it is a more esoteric choice, but, as we decided after the fifth G&T, it is largely about experiences, and, more to the point, memories. As in ‘Memories are made of this,’ as Dean Martin astutely crooned back in the 1950s.
So, what is it that immediately springs to mind for us when we cast our minds back about cruising in general and, more specifically, individual cruises we have taken?
We’re glad you asked. Here, in no particular order, are five of the most momentous reminiscences that have sprung directly from our many sea travels (which date back to 1969, by the way, and not The Great Flood):
An Early Morning Arrival
There simply is no more evocative and exciting moment on board than your ship arriving in a new port as the first light of dawn brings its illumination to the location. If we were to wax poetic (which we could be forgiven for doing after a night in the Goat), we would say that Earth has nothing to show more fair, a sight so touching in its majesty, this port now doth, like a garment, wear the beauty of the morning…
Okay, so that was simply echoing William Wordsworth and his ‘View from Westminster Bridge’ back in 1802, but it was perfectly apt for an arrival in Funchal, Madeira, one September morning, just as the night lights were giving way to the softest of the sun’s first rays on the magnificent surrounds of this wonderfully precipitous harbour. Even we were stricken into silence by the utter gorgeousness of the panorama.
Dining With The Staff
We don’t have to go quite so far back into our memory banks for another redolent recollection. Dining with the Captain (or some of his senior staff) has started to become passé for many cruise lines, but it remains a great way to stay in touch with the genuine maritime nature of the undertaking.
We have had the good fortune to break bread with a good number of good-natured cruise mariners, but our most recent voyage with Silversea sticks in our mind for a memorable evening in the Asian-accented confines of the Indochine restaurant aboard Silver Muse with the young Third Officer, who turned out to be a mine of conversational information about his home region of Etruria (now modern Tuscany). If ever we were to consider moving to Italy, we would head for Vetulonia, on his basic recommendation. It sounds divine, or ‘divino’, as they would say in those parts.
A Bombay Bloody Life-Saver
It has been known – and we will indeed own up to the fact – that we do like the occasional cocktail, and, just sporadically, one has given way to several and, well, you know the score. The next morning your head is moving a lot more than the ship, and not in a good way.
Cue Red to the rescue. Back in the 1990s aboard the Crystal Harmony of Crystal Cruises, the Crystal Cove was known informally as Red’s Bar, after the main barman, Red (appropriately enough). With Tenny tottering up to the bar at 11 that morning, he could tell one of us was more-than-slightly the worse for wear. “Ola!” he greeted us. “You need a Bombay Bloody Bull, senor,” he insisted. “*groan*,” said Tenny.
Now, it should be pointed out that a Bloody Mary is not typically Tenny’s first tipple of the day, but Red was insistent his gin-infused version was exactly what was needed to put some pep back in his step. And you know what? He was bloody well right. And it remains one of our essential orders whenever we travel with Crystal to this day.
A Whale Of A Time
Making sure we spend time communing with the beautiful briny remains one of our essential reasons for taking a cruise in the first place, and, when we can combine a leisurely day at sea with some serious nature-watching, we are in sea-going seventh heaven.
Cue an extraordinary day in Alaska, courtesy of UnCruise Adventures. We had already enjoyed the more unstructured, uncharted nature of a 10-day voyage with this unique little American operation when the captain espied some unusual aquatic activity off the starboard bow as we approached a small island. Lo and behold, in a vista straight out of a David Attenborough nature special, we were treated to the sight of humpback whales bubble-net feeding, an indelible occasion of extra-special visual munificence.
If there was ever a moment when you’d like time to stand still, it was then, in the cool, brooding waters of one of the most unspoiled regions of the world, communing with a natural phenomenon that fair took the breath away. And do you know what? For five straight hours, time did, indeed, stand still.
A Patagonian Preference
It doesn’t really come any more exceptional and singular than taking a helicopter from your ship into the wilds of Patagonia, to go kayaking on a seldom-visited river and do Tai Chi on the tundra (and, just for the record, we do, still, go in for slightly more strenuous adventures than strolling to the nearest bar).
But that was the order of an unforgettable day (among seven) with Nomads of the Seas, and their unique vessel the Atmosphere, which offers a positive cornucopia of delights down in southern Chile. Each day produced new marvels for us to enjoy, but nothing could beat that helicopter trip into an area that few people see, let alone get to explore in such detail. In fact, if we had to choose just one memory above them all, it would be this. And we’d do it again in a heartbeat.
Okay, that’s our two penn’orth when it comes to cherished cruise moments. Now, it’s your turn…
What most sticks in your mind about cruising in general or a particular cruise? Give us your memories in the Comments section below.