17 March 2020

Reflections on the cruise that went nowhere

Although it is disappointing to have our entire trip plan fall apart and have to return prematurely, we are glad we came this far. 
We will remember our two days and nights on the Astoria with affection, and will almost certainly take up the offer from Cruise and Maritime Voyages of a discount on future cruises.
We had grave reservations about the whole cruise thing, but this one would have been great if it had gone ahead, and not just because of the enticing itinerary.
For a start, the Astoria is a charming ship. She is a pocket liner, shaped like a real ship, lots of brass rails and a generally old-fashioned feeling (she is 75 years old). She is to be taken out of service at the end of this year, so it was last chance to see...
Second, the crew were wonderful, especially during the trying period when no one knew if we were going or not.
Third, the other guests were almost universally interesting, people you felt you'd like to get to know better. They were almost all English, and they'd all travelled a lot. Many had lived o/s at some point. Many had been to Australia. And they coped with uncertainty and disappointment with good humour and consideration for the crew.
It felt rather like U3A afloat. Even though we were on board for less than 48 hours, we joined the choir and were singing in 3-part harmony in one rehearsal, attended a lecture on marine life, enjoyed two evening entertainment sessions (and did some dancing). I located the gym and went in search of a fitness class, but it had either been cancelled or was all over by the time I found it. Most of the passengers were fit anyway, perhaps it wasn't needed. Some of our fellow choristers put together a song which they performed on the last night to thank the crew. Sung to Rod Stewart's Sailing, it was "We're not sailing". These were not whinging Poms, rather the sort who deal with crises with patience, fortitude and humour.
My only remaining reservation about cruises relates to dress. A number of the passengers who stayed on board for the second (and last) night came to dinner in evening dress, dinner suits for gentlemen, glitz for ladies in various forms. Not sure that anything we had in our luggage would have passed muster. In future I think I might be able to winkle an evening dress into my bag if I left out a couple of jumpers, but a dinner suit for Peter? Takes up much too much room.

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