It’s a grey rainy day in Montreal. Our bags have disappeared somewhere and have presumably left the ship, but we haven’t. The announcer guy is calling guests with luggage tags Brown 2 and Brown 3 to disembark. We’re Lime 7, whatever that means.
Our cruise to New England and Canada has been such a great success that I reckon I should share the benefits of our collective learnings with all the “newbies” out there. So, here’s my top five tips for those who dream of cruising.
1 – Remember your room number, and what deck it’s on. While this may seem obvious, we’ve witnessed a few of those awkward breakfast conversations – “Oh Edna, don’t be like that. I wasn’t (insert here – “in the wrong room” – “at the bar until 3am” – “avoiding you”). It’s just that this ship is so darn big that I couldn’t find our room.”
2 – Your key card is not your friend. Oh, yes, they’ll tell you that “all you need on this ship is your key card.” That little bit of plastic is a mean nasty critter. Want a drink? Swipe. Like a photo? Swipe. How about that half price diamond necklace with the rubies and sapphires? Sure, just swipe. There is a day of reckoning – and it ain’t pretty.
3 – Make some new friends. There’s probably no better way to do this than joining one of the shared tables in the dining room. Take the other night for instance. We’re joined at our table by some couples from what they call the “flyover States”. Huh? “Oh, they’re the States folks fly over when they’re heading somewhere interesting.” “So, you’re from Osstralia? What’s yer names?” “Wayne and Cathy.” “Sorry, we’re a bit deaf. Did you say Wine and Cherries?” “No, Wayne and Cathy.” “Ok, but only half a glass. My bladder isn’t what it used to be.”
4 – Have a few good conversation starters up your sleeve. One of our newfound dinner friends leans towards me and asks. “So, besides climate change, is there anything else Osstralians are affeared of?” Unfortunately, he caught me unawares, and the automatic response was past my lips before Nanette could get her hand over my mouth. “Well, there’s your president.” I think I’ve dodged the proverbial bullet when my companion starts nodding enthusiastically and replies “Oh man – don’t get ma wife started on that guy.” Then, we realise that our other table companions have a different view. Oh man – how long before they bring that dessert?
5 – Be nice to the staff. This is probably the most important tip of all. Want chocolates on your bed every night? Like your coffee hot? Want your bags handled with at least a pretence of care? Well, these are the people who magically make that happen and, as glamorous as shipboard life might look to us, it’s quite a different story when you’re on the other side of the service business.
Anyways, they’ve just called Black 6 and White 4, so it must be our turn to leave soon. Oh no! Duck! There’s that guy who ……..