Despite the protestations of The Special One, I’ve never quite been able to understand the point of a
holidayvacation on board a cruise ship. The idea of being surrounded with 2000 people whose idea of a good time is spending their evening watching some underworked and slightly camp ‘entertainers’ perform The Birdie Song is enough to send me racing into the arms of a passing Somali pirate. I have a recurring nightmare about pulling out of port and realising that I have no escape from Nigel and Doris (and their hilarious stories of the time that Nigel accidentally washed his hair with mayonnaise).
No, the cruise is simply not for me.
Of course, like all the best over-the-top generalisations, my loathing of cruise liners has absolutely no basis in knowledge. I’ve never stepped on a boat of that size – indeed, I don’t think that I’d even seen one particularly close up until this weekend when we saw the Queen Mary 2 blocking out the sun in Red Hook, Brooklyn.
Sadly, all that has now changed. I am now a cruise veteran.
To be fair, there seems to be a lot going in a cruise’s favour. I was admittedly working pretty much round-the-clock at a business conference, the swimming pools had been drained, and I barely went outside for three days. But nonetheless, I can see why some people would possibly get quite into the idea. The ship was enormous, with numerous restaurants, nightclubs, bars and even a casino – as well as a basketball court, a golf range and an art gallery among many other attractions. I’m sure that kids – if any had been allowed on the boat – would have been thoroughly entertained by a crack squad of children’s entertainers. And who can argue with a team of maids who turn your towels into elaborate sculptures of frogs, rabbits or dogs?
All in all then, pretty bearable. Apart from the music, that is.
Never before has such a collection of terrible tunesmithery been gathered together in one place. From the piano player on night one, to the ill-advised Chinese trio on day two, to the over-the-hill male and female combo on the final night, the entertainment was enough to have half of the conference delegates running for the lifeboats, and the rest desperately hoping that the boat was actually called the Titanic.
The first song I heard being played as I walked out on to the deck was – no word of a lie – Lady In Red. And it was downhill from there. Seasons In The Sun, Hello, Chiquitita, Everything I Do (I Do It For You), Nothing’s Gonna Change My Love For You – rarely can there have been a less enticing set of songs played for a group’s ‘listening’ ‘pleasure’.
The entertainers did have the good grace to look embarrassed, occasionally casting their eyes around the stunned onlookers to make sure that they didn’t know anybody.
At least I think they did. I’d jumped into the Atlantic by the time they played Wind Beneath My Wings.