A lot of people asked me how I could possibly want to spend 108-nights on a ship. My response, how could you not want to spend 108-nights on a ship? I love being at sea. That’s my happy place, even when the waves are crashing against the hull and throwing us around like a toy boat, I’d still rather be there than anywhere else. I hate being still, I like to be on the move.
Life onboard Black Watch for those 108-nights was far from dull. I never get involved with entertainment unless it is out on the open decks. I don’t want to be inside watching or listening to something that I usually have no interest in. I like to be outside, watching the sunset, enjoying the sea air and having conversations with people. I don’t need to be entertained with song and dance, I’m happy with a good old fashioned chat. Lots of other people went to the shows, some they enjoyed more than others, and I always waited for my evening reports from Julie and Audrey. I may not have been there myself, but I do like to know what other people think. There were so many different acts on during the 108-nights, including Joe West, Micky Zany, Gerry Graham, Stevie J, Al Brown, Mick Miller and so on. I’m sure some of those names will be familiar to those of you that have been on a few cruises. Comedy, music, dancing, magic, there was a wide variety on offer. Of course, we also had regular music and shows from the Black Watch Show Company, Black Watch Orchestra and Malou, Timeline Duo and Tibor Parrag. Of all the deck entertainment, my favourite was the line crossing ceremony, closely followed by the Bollywood night and then the tug of war. I liked the tug of war because the crew really went for it. I was sure someone was going to end up overboard.
The Bollywood party we had as we sailed from Mumbai was a lot of fun and I actually got involved with it, but from the corner of a deck that wasn’t six. I didn’t want or need an audience. The deck was decorated with lanterns and strips of beautiful, brightly coloured fabric. Everyone commented on how nice the ship looked. I wish we could have kept it like that every night. I also enjoyed the local band that came onboard when we were in Sharm el Sheikh. It hadn’t been quite what I’d expected but it was different and I liked the music. We had other local entertainment come aboard in several other ports, but I spent my time ashore on those evenings.
Once we had been on the ship for a few weeks, people started to fall into habits and routines. You’d often see the same people, sitting in the same places and that was a great way to chat. The knitting ladies (whom we adored and renamed the Knitting Mafia) always sat in the same place in the Bookmark Cafe, a lady named Janet and her friend Bruce were always to be found enjoying the sounds of the piano in the Morning Lights Pub, some of our favourite people could always be found on Deck 8 and we knew everyone else could probably be found at the morning and afternoon quizzes. There were people I liked very much and others that I wasn’t so fond of. In the beginning, everyone seems friendly, but when you’re onboard for such a long time you soon realise that what was presented to you at first isn’t always what stays true. It’s not a bad thing, you just accept that you enjoy the company of some people more than others and you instinctively go your separate ways.
Marian and I also fell into our own routines. She would visit the gym on sea days, before having breakfast and then joining me on the aft decks for some sunbathing. We ate Poolside every sea day and ordered the same thing, and the last six-to-seven weeks of the cruise I had the same thing for dinner every night (when I had dinner) and that was tuna, pasta and sweetcorn. Surprisingly, I didn’t get bored with it, I enjoyed it. It was light and I left the dining room feeling full but not bloated because I’d unnecessarily shoveled three courses down my neck. I did cheat once or twice, but that was it. We’d also been onboard for so long that I’d seen each menu several times, I just wanted to keep it simple. OK all of that was a complete lie, I just REALLY wanted to eat the fried chicken and in order to do that, something else had to be sacrificed. Simple as that. I really miss that chicken. I know I’ve gone on and on about it for months, but it was seriously good. 😉
One thing I did break routine for was a visit to the spa. I know, I couldn’t believe it either. On the first week of the cruise I’d seen an advert for Happy Feet and even though I hate the thought of a spa visit, it sounded like the perfect treat for tired feet. I decided that near the end of the cruise, I’d go along and see what it was all about. On the second last day, I made my way to the Atlantis Spa and Pear began the process of making my feet happy. Now, let me point out that I don’t like feet and I don’t like people touching my feet. The advert said it was a FOOT SOAK, there was no mention of massages or anything else, so imagine my horror when Pear started rubbing all sorts of lotions and potions over my lower legs and feet. Although I was uncomfortable at first, I soon got over it and I did enjoy it. My feet are still smooth and I’ll do it again on my next Fred. Olsen cruise.
What else can I tell you about living on a cruise ship for 108-nights? I don’t even know where to begin, to be honest. I’ve tried to share with you the things that I feel would be of interest to everyone, but of course there are so many other bits and pieces I could share with you. The launderette, what a pain! Going back and forth every few minutes was good for my legs, but nothing else. I will say that it wasn’t as bad as I expected it to be. We all know the onboard launderette can be the most dangerous place onboard, but nothing major happened on this cruise and surprisingly, it wasn’t where all the gossip originated from. I know, I still can’t believe it. I did meet a lovely lady in there one day who kindly pointed out that the iron wasn’t plugged in, hence the reason it wasn’t getting hot. I’d checked everything else! Give me a break! We were both hysterical for several minutes.
Marian and I had a magnetic cat on our cabin door, she would hold the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign and she went all over the ship, from cabin to cabin. I’d take her to visit people, she especially liked being with Eve and Fiona. She’d return home a day or two later with a note attached to her tail. No, we weren’t mad, but this is life on such a long sailing and when you get to know people. It’s all just a bit of fun. I’d met Eve on Balmoral last year, so I would wind her up on a daily basis. There was no getting away from me! 😉
What else? I became the unofficial ‘Black Watch Barber’, I’d shave Mick’s head every 3 or 4 weeks and colour Eve’s hair. I’d quite often escort Irene from the lift to the Lido Lounge. I’d take silly selfies with friends that had fallen asleep in public areas (don’t worry, they all knew about it, loved it and were shown the pictures). I had an 82-year-old boyfriend named Alec (miss you novio) and his wife gave us her blessing. I was adopted by a lovely Greek couple and they would call me Kori, which means daughter. There was a lady named Sue (I’m talking about you, Smiler) and I loved her, I had to hug her every time I seen her and it had nothing to do with the fact she called me beautiful every day. Life onboard, I do miss it. I was the youngest passenger on the cruise, I could get away with anything! 😉
The only regret I have from the world cruise is leaving the ship. I wish I’d stayed onboard. I wouldn’t change anything about it and if I could do it all again, I’d be there in the blink of an eye. The sea is definitely my oasis of serenity and I’m missing ‘ship life’ very much. It’s another world. When we’re out in the middle of the ocean it’s just us. I love that feeling!