I started my blog in February 2012 and at that time, I had no idea where it would take me or the friendships it would build. I worked tirelessly to make sure my content was always fresh and exciting and it wasn’t long before I caught the attention of John Honeywell, better known to those within the cruise world as Captain Greybeard.
My friendship with John grew over the years and I had the pleasure of embarking on several sailings with him and his lovely wife, Sheila. Our most recent being a trip to Iceland with Saga Cruises. Sadly, that would turn out to be one of John’s final adventures at sea, as he passed away recently after a very short illness.
If it wasn’t for John, I’d not have made my way into publications such as World of Cruising. He gave me advice, he offered support, he encouraged me to go and get what I wanted and he ultimately became one of my closest friends within this industry – I could always rely on him. He told me I had a talent for writing and he made sure that doors were opened.
I’ll NEVER be able to repay him, but I wanted to do something for John that would not only honour his memory, but also give him the spotlight one last time to tell you, in his own words, why he had such a passion for cruise.
I wish I’d known that within days – hours, even – of setting foot on a cruise ship in February 1997, I was going to be addicted. For life.
That first time wasn’t on a particularly grand vessel, and it was far from a perfect voyage. The ship had prop-shaft problems half way through the cruise and instead of sailing from Egypt to Dover, the passengers were flown home from Malta.
But after visiting the Pyramids and then boarding the ship in Port Said, I was overwhelmed by the fact that the very next day we were in Israel, setting off for an excursion to Jerusalem and Bethlehem. At the tender age of … well, let’s say under 50 … I found myself being addressed as “young man” by a tour guide who needed help lifting a section of floor in the Church of the Nativity to show the tiles beneath.
Back then it was the shock of the new. Nowadays, after more cruises than I can count, I have to pinch myself so I don’t take it for granted. I’m still amazed that I could be walking the walls of King’s Landing – or Dubrovnik – one day, and within a few hours be zooming through the canals of Venice in a water taxi, just like James Bond. Or that I can be transported from the height of 21st Century hectic living and skyscraper luxury in Singapore or Hong Kong to the emerging innocence of Burma with its golden temples and placid, friendly people.
Polar bears in Svalbard, grizzlies in Alaska, wallabies in Australia and penguins in the Straits of Magellan – I’ve seen them all thanks to my addiction to cruising.
Give me a chance to take to the seas and I’ll grab it greedily, whether it’s a seven-day Transatlantic crossing on a Cunard liner, a lengthy voyage to remote St Helena, or a three-day jaunt across to Amsterdam in the company of Katherine Jenkins.
Which brings me from destinations to entertainment. If it weren’t for cruising I would probably have never discovered the sensational Blue Man Group, and while I have sat through some of the cheesiest end-of-the-pier song and dance shows imaginable while at sea, I have been spellbound by a West End-quality production of Chicago. Unexpectedly, I also seem to have developed a knack for leaving a shipboard casino with $100 more than when I entered.
As far as blackjack is concerned, I know when to stop. Can’t say the same about cruising though. Pass me my diary and let me know what’s up next …
Sweet dreams, John. Thank you for everything. We all miss you! We love you! x x