Last Christmas, we decided to do something a bit different. We decided to try and escape the madness that is Christmas and go on a cruise. However, I soon realised that we hadn’t managed to escape Christmas. On a cruise you will find that it is still very much Christmas. Here’s how going on a cruise at Christmas is just like Christmas at home.
At home you will always have a competitive family member. The one that demands you read the rule book thoroughly. They don’t play for fun: they play to win. They are a stickler for the rules. On the boat nothing changes, if anything they become more competitive. In our case this was my Mum. One day the daily pub quiz was hosted by a different staff member. The questions were, if I were to be polite, abstract! My Mum became increasingly frustrated. The following question tipped her over the edge,
“What is paravane used for?”
Everyone in the room sat there. My Mum started shooting her death stares and muttering, the poor lady became nervous so she gave everyone a clue:
“You use it for cleaning”
Our team attempted to make some vaguely intelligent guesses for our answer. She then revealed the answer,
My Mum was outraged, the mood in the room was changing and I feared that Mum was going to lead a rebellion. She did, first Mum started the heckling, then everyone joined in and then there was booing. The poor girl could not wait to get out of there. My Mum was quite right though, since when was minesweeping cleaning?
Tradition dictates that you attend a pantomime on Boxing Day and there was one on the boat but I didn’t bother watching it. You normally go to see some z-list celeb from a reality show. I didn’t need to go to the pantomime because the whole cruise was like a pantomime but with a bona fide actual actor – Daniel Mays. Him from Mrs Biggs, Vera Drake, Star Wars and the remake of Dad’s Army. I was completely star struck and spent the whole time shrieking excitedly whilst trying to play it cool. This wasn’t easy as he seemed to be sat on the next table to us all of the time! I did not engineer this – honest. This would mean that I would spend the whole time loudly whispering
“he’s behind you”
“oh yes he is”
when Mr C didn’t believe me. Not cool. One time I was perusing the fancy globes in the one of the ship’s shops. It was just me and then he walked in with his family. Cue me trying to act cool whilst pretending that I didn’t really know who he is. So determined was I to play it cool that I nearly knocked all of the globes over in my desperation to get out of the shop quickly.
There is always a mad Christmas dash at the shops on Christmas Eve. You find yourself cut-up by some elderly lady who is desperate to ram you out of the way with their trolley so that they can nab the last piece of gammon. This is no different on the boat, except it’s not trollies but mobility scooters. Every time I went out onto deck I was taking my own life into my own hands. The silver surfers were speed demons on those mobility scooters, and top deck was their own personal racing track. Lo and behold if you got in the way of their Grand Prix. As the day wore on, and more sherries were invariably consumed, they would become more reckless, performing hand-break turns, and taking hairpin turns at such a speed I was convinced that someone was going to end up overboard into the ocean. That would have added a whole new level of meaning to the term silver surfer!
The Christmas buffet sees you all lining up politely and going round the table in an anticlockwise fashion. Then some rule breaker, normally my Dad, breaks the order goes the wrong way, bumping into everyone and basically getting the last of all the goodies! On the boat, it is those silver surfers again. They will basically treat a buffet line like a bowling alley and they will hurtle towards you in their scooter sending you scattering and possibly maiming you in the process. Or they might be the silent assassin, creep-up behind you and whip the last bit of Christmas pudding, right from under your nose.
Finally, the guests
Christmas sees you all coming together, people that barely speak to each other for the rest of the year. This doesn’t change because you are on a boat.
The grumpy loner – (aka my Dad)
You will spot the grumpy loner because he doesn’t like noise or crowds. He avoids all of the organised activities and he won’t partake in any of the joviality of Christmas Day. He will invariably vanish when it becomes too much. We took to sandwiching my Dad in the middle of the group because we lost him so many times. He would suddenly veer off, often into the shop because he had seen something sparkling. Think Gollum – “precious one”. The grumpy loner will be found sitting on their balcony, in solitude, reading a good book.
The snoozers – (aka me)
They find the excitement all too much and will often be found snoozing because they have peaked too early. At home it is after the Christmas dinner. On the boat it could be anytime, you can only guarantee that they will be drooling and mouth open. They know how to paaaaaaarty! You will find them deck side, snoring away, oblivious to the carnage around them.
The ill ones – (aka me and my brother)
There are always the guests that are ill every Christmas. You then spend the whole cruise trying to avoid them as you don’t want to catch their illness. They spend the whole cruise regaling you with how poorly they are. If they have any weeping wounds then they will insist that they show you, my Nan is a great one for this. The ill ones will be found in their cabins with the lights off, sleeping.
The stressed parents (aka me and Mr C)
You will recognise them by the bags under their eyes and the hushed arguments coming from their side of the room. They will be operating on zero sleep and their kids will be running circles round them. This is the same on a cruise. They will be found waiting for kids’ club to open. Then they will be harder to find as they will be hiding in one of the numerous bars on board.
The life and soul of the party (aka Mr C)
It’s Christmas and that means no work for 2 weeks! This guest gets very giddy as a result and will be like a kid in a sweet shop. They want to open their presents NOW, drink all of the beers and play all of the games just because it is CHRISTMAS. You can find them anywhere. They will be so giddy that they will be looping that ship and shouting, “I LOVE CHRISTMAS” They will also be wearing a Christmas jumper and insist that you wear the one that they surprised you with.
Rampaging children (aka my two)
Christmas Day means children high on excitement accompanied by the stressed parents, trying to herd them away from imminent death. You will be able to hear them before you see them. If there are more than one kid then you can guarantee that they will be going in opposite directions to each other, whilst ignoring orders of “get back here”, “don’t put your fingers in the puddings” and the most worrying, “don’t climb that or you might fall overboard”. You will find them in kids’ club, hopefully.
Therefore, if you are planning on going on a cruise because you want to escape Christmas, be prepared that it will be just the same only on the sea. Although, there is no washing-up. Win!