Being quite spontaneous and slightly mad as well, I decided a couple of weeks ago to go off on a cruise while my business was quiet. I’d had a road trip planned with a girlfriend but she had to cancel. So I booked a “Melanesian Discovery” tour on the Pacific Pearl leaving the following Sunday. Quickly made arrangements for my business to semi operate in my absence and off I flew to Auckland to board the ship. I don’t think many other people go on cruises by themselves and I did feel slightly awkward at first but it was fabulous. Ten whole days with only my own wishes to consider and only myself to please, beautiful meals provided and no decisions to make other than when to head up to “smokers corner” on the deck, or which entertainment acts to watch. Bliss. My room was nice with a large porthole, queen bed, ensuite and plenty of drawers and wardrobe space to put away all my clothes and shoes and make it home for the next ten days. There was a tele but I didn’t turn it on as I decided to make this trip as different to my normal life as I could. There was a big “away party” up on the deck as we sailed out of Auckland with loud music and kids swimming and everyone drinking, and that is when I decided the way to do this is to just get amongst it, get my lychee mocktail and join in.Off out to the restaurant the first night and they put me at a table with two couples who had also just met each other at the table and we all got on like a house on fire and had a few laughs and a beautiful 3 course meal. They had some wine. I went to a show in the Marquee that was showing samples of some the acts coming up. Dancers, a magician, a trapeze artist and a singer. To be honest I was very pleased I was sober and giving it my full attention, so I could see how bad and amateur it actually was!! Mediocre at best. However, it was still mildly entertaining. As it happened some of the shows throughout the cruise were excellent, in particular the comedy. The karaoke was hilarious and some of them were very talented.
The first sunrise was a delight, a ball of shining gold on the horizon with just a massive expanse of sea. All of the islands were beautiful, there was swimming at gorgeous beaches in lovely warm waters, a lagoon cruise in Vila, a zodiac ride to a wee Island in Noumea then a mad crazy and totally dangerous ride in a silly wee open train that took us all around the place with cars screaming around and passing us at speed about 2 inches away on corners!! On that particular trip I was sitting next to an hilarious Maori man who had me in stitches of laughter with his running commentary of what was gong on. A lot of knowledge was given on all of the tours of the interesting cultures of each place and it's people.
Getting back aboard the ship after each of the 5 Islands felt like going home, great to get back to my room, have a nice long shower and put on fresh clothes, and head up to the deck for a ciggie and to catch all the news of everyone’s day and to get the ship gossip, like one guy having a heart attack in the gym and ending up dead. Or the father and son that had a fight and a third party went overboard at 2.00am and had to be rescued by one of the tender boats using the ship’s search lights. Two culprits were in the lockup down below and escorted off the ship in Vila. Turned out after four days of it being bandied around the ship that it was all bullshit, apart from the two guys in the lockup, which was true and they did get escorted off. And the guy did die in the gym. And one guy wandered off for too long on an island and got left behind and had to make his own way to Vanuatu to catch up with the ship again.
I guess you could say I was a bit out of my comfort zone to begin with, but very quickly I was befriended by some lovely people, a couple of gay guys from Auckland, a nice lady from the Christchurch blues scene and her man, and a wonderful wee lady, Sybil, and her 91 year old mother who was a fabulous and sprightly character and often had us all in fits of laughter. There were lots of others who got together with us on the top deck every day, some wonderful characters and plenty of laughter. There were times when they were all drinking after a big day at the beach and I’d be feeling a bit of a dick with my raspberry lime and soda, and after having it I’d sometimes go to my room and spend a couple of lazy hours reading and nodding off, until it was time to change for dinner and the evening activities.......music, theatre, live bands, comedy, circus, heaps of stuff going on. On the last night there was a big party in the Atrium, all the 200 chefs paraded through, there were 100’s of balloons and a big electronic light show and they made a champagne fountain of 700 glasses and used probably a couple of hundred bottles of champagne to fill them all, and I got a photo taken of me pouring champagne into the top of the fountain. It was my way of showing myself and remembering I can be all around and amongst booze if that is what the occasion calls for, and still have a .....reasonably good time, without drinking it!!I was in fact very glad to be and remain sober on this holiday, as it occurred to me many times that if I was drinking I would be far more obsessed with my next and next and next glass than any of those around me!!
I had a blast of a time and I would do it again in a heartbeat, either alone or with friends. In fact I would now like to save for a river cruise down the Rhine or the Danube and as soon as I’ve got time I’ll be checking it out! Anyone want to come?Yep life is short, so bring it on, all of it, and keep it coming!!