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Setting Off



February 14 , 2016 |

Setting Off

Mike Forbes continues his sailing adventures, read the previous post here

Having set sail from Miami, the ship headed for the Caribbean. This is not a travelogue, nor a TripAdvisor summary of our route but we did call at four of the islands, and excursions were arranged to cater for all sorts of activities including sightseeing, 12 metre sailing, inspecting rum factories or snorkelling in the Caribbean. At sea the Cruise Director is not happy unless all the passengers are engaged in entertainment, lectures, classes, fitness training, shopping, gambling in the casino and anything else to keep them busy, as well as spending money. It doesn’t seem1 to have occurred that many are content to chill out and just watch the sea going past.

Most cruising ships have their own song and dance teams who produce their shows in the evenings, often repeated to fit the dinner sittings. These musicians, singers and dancers will be engaged by contract for particular cruises or for specific periods. Many change ships and cruise companies quite often and so may be well known to the more experienced cruiser. The performers have what to an outsider looks like a demanding task, needing to liven up a sometimes bored and ‘cold’ audience who might prefer to be doing something else. Perhaps it is akin to the former northern circuit of working-men’s clubs for the younger artistes.


The Passengers

Looking around at our fellow passengers, it is impossible to know what professions or occupations they engaged in during their working lives. Of course the vast majority are retired, but we could be travelling with judges, accountants, murderers, company chairmen, doctors, drug dealers, archbishops, cardinals, painters, authors and fraudsters; we all look the same! What we do know is the breakdown of which country whence they came. Out of 594 passengers, 347 (58% of the total) are Americans, 89 (15%) Canadians, 42 (7%) from Britain, 36 (6%) Australians, 14 (2%) Germans and 66 from other countries. Of course Princess Line is American, the cruise started in Florida and most of the marketing was done in the US, so the American predominance is not surprising. Anecdotally, we seem to be in a tiny minority as first-timers cruisers, with many expressing surprise that we chose a 24-day cruise as a try-out. That is what short ‘taster’ cruises are supposed to be about! Ah well. . . . . .

The Hotel Side

As the Cruise continues we find that we spend more time in our cabin/stateroom than would be the case had we been staying in a land hotel. Thus it makes sense to look now at the Cruise cabin. The vast majority are hotel rooms with a balcony, itself a private space with two chairs and a table, where you cannot be overlooked other than from outside the ship, or your neighbour trying to peer round the side bulkhead. The balcony cabins are what gives the sides of cruise ships the appearance of a cliff made of pigeonholes. A small but perfectly serviceable washroom with shower, basin and toilet, bed (double or single as desired), desk and settee, wardrobe and, in our case, a huge mirror on one bulkhead which gives a feel of extra light and space, completes the room, while TV, phone, safe and fridge are provided. The balcony is useful for sunbathing, harbour-watching, drying clothes, meals in the sun and judicious use of the sliding doors to adjust the air-conditioning. Each group of cabins has a steward who services your room daily.


Mike Forbes is a retired Royal Naval commander who lives in London with his wife. His first visit to Croatia was in the year 2000. 

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