I have to confess that what I’m about to do feels very weird indeed. I haven’t written in a diary since I was a love-sick teenager, age 13. It was the summer that my first boyfriend Joey dumped me for my best friend, Joanie. Perhaps the alliterative sound of Joey and Joanie was more to his liking than Joey and Susan. All he had to do was ask. I would have changed my name. But that’s a story for another day.
The reason for affectionately addressing a blank piece of paper today is a far cry from that heart-breaking summer of my youth. As you might remember from my last blog post, my honey and I are embarking on our very first cruise. (if you didn’t read it, that’s OK. But remember, I know who you are!)
We are doing this with the highest of expectations, based on the unanimous positive assurances from our experienced sea-going friends, that we are going to LOVE it. And why will we love it? It’s such an easy way to travel.
No changing hotels, no worrying about restaurant reservations, everything is very organized, and since you are on a ship with hundreds of other people, it’s a wonderful opportunity to make new friends. But discovering little hotels and exploring new cuisine, aren’t they two of the reasons people travel in the first place? Oh well.
There was a good deal of emphasis on the “making new friends” part, so we took it as one of the critical measurements of a successful cruise. That, and making sure you have a state room with a verandah.
So, making new friends and a verandah. Check and check.
I decide to keep this diary because I don’t want to forget one single detail of our seven-day quest to make new friends, and also to see some new sights.
Day 1: We board the Good Ship Lollypop in Stockholm, Sweden, on a sunny summer-like afternoon. We are assigned to our stateroom, and in short order, our luggage follows. The room is lovely — spacious and attractive. And look, there’s the verandah, furnished with two chairs, and a table. Unpack our suitcases, hang up clothes, and consciously try to appreciate that this act is one of the wonders of cruising. No repacking for 7 days. Card in the room inviting us to share a table for dinner with one of the ship’s lecturers. Wow! This is great. Empty suitcases, verandah, and the potential for new friends all in the first hour. Does it get any better than this? We pour two glasses of wine and move outside and experience the ship slipping quietly along the Stockholm archipelago. I silently thank my friends who extol verandahs.
Day 2: I’ll be brief. Pull back the drapes to discover an overcast morning. Decide to order breakfast in room. Shall we have it on the verandah? Open the sliding door and are greeted by a gust of wind and cold air. So much for al fresco toast. Last night’s dinner very pleasant. Sat with couples from Australia. Very nice. Potential for new friendships and perhaps a visit to Australia? Leave ship for touring. Look for Australian couples upon return to continue development of new friendship.
Days 3, 4, 5: Weather persists to be chilly and windy. Definitely no longer conducive to verandah-sitting. Leave ship every day to visit different cities. Happy to say that only once were we on a large tour bus and had to follow a guide holding an umbrella. Which wasn’t so bad because it was raining anyway so it looked kind of normal. Everything is fine so far, except the weather and the fact that we hadn’t made one new friend. We were running out of time. Australian couples nowhere to be found.
Day 6: Have lunch on the ship on outdoor deck wearing warm jacket, scarf, and blanket. Heat lamps are glowing. No one else seems to mind so why should we? Empty tables scarce so we ask lone Asian woman if we might join her. She nods slightly, I think. Or perhaps it was Asian for “go away.” In any event, we sit and are hopeful of a conversation. She apparently finds her food much more interesting than the two of us, because she never once takes her eyes off her lamb chops. Awkward! We need to do better! Oh, forgot to mention that last night I came down with cruise sickness. I hear it’s quite common, but dear friends neglected to mention it.
Day 7: Last full day on ship and we will be sailing for the entire day. It’s now or never. I spy a couple we have seen before and briefly acknowledged with a nod. He is a nice looking fellow and she is hard to miss. Long, bleached blonde hair, slim body, tight clothes and boobs that enter a room about 30 seconds before she does. She and I definitely do not deliver the same message, but this is no time to be judgmental. Try a number of times to establish eye contact, but all efforts fail. Could she possibly have overheard me questioning the origin of her mammaries?
Day 8: Time to disembark. Repack clothes. Say good-bye to verandah which we never used again, and try not to feel like failures. We have exchanged email information with no one.
We chose this particular ship because it was smaller than some and the cruise was shorter. When it comes to forming new alliances, maybe this was a mistake. Perhaps consider a longer cruise and a larger ship for next time? That is, if there is a next time.
This sounds so much like my cruise. The weather was horrible and ruined the whole cruise. Yet, would you believe I am about to sail the high seas again.
Out of three or four cruises (out of Florida) my late husband and I met just one couple, and they became life long friends. We just got lucky.
That’s a great photograph of beauty in St. Petersburg. I hope you are going to write about it. I explored that city in the first days of 1970, when it was a very, very different than it is now.
I’m sorry about the northern Baltic weather, but you never know what June or even early-July weather will be like in that area.
Although I love boating, I have never gone on an overnight commercial cruise, and I doubt very much I will ever go on one unless it is on a relatively small vessel (maximum length: 150 feet; less preferable). It’s not that hard to tote a bag between stops, especially since we tend to stay in each place we visit for at least 5-7 days. (I stopped going on short-stay trips after the first one.)
Oh Susan this is hilarious! I’m about to set sail on my second Viking cruise with a girlfriend. Last year we went through Germany, Holland, and more. This year only France… wanting to see, smell and experience the lavender fields of Provence… a life dream… and take a class to paint like Van Gogh. My friend and I split up and pounce ourselves on unsuspecting couples making new friends throughout the trip. They are counted as “friend ” if I remember their name and they remember mine. No need for emails
So sorry this didn’t tun out well for you. Since we’ve never sailed on Seabourne, a very small ship, I really can”t comment. I did want to say, that we always take a veranda cabin even tho I never sit out there. The reason, as I said, is that the veranda gives you a double ceiling to floor “window” which makes the cabin nice and bright and gives you a great view.
We just got back from a river cruise through Normandy – our main goal was to walk on Omaha Beach, the American Cemetery. etc. One of the “friends” we made was a 96 year old veteran of WWII He was not only an inspiration to us “young kids”, he was a delightful traveling companion. In addition, we visited Giverny ( Monet’s home ) and the town where Van Gogh lived out his final months and painted prolifically.). Along our walking tour, were posters of his paintings at the actual sites he painted.
All in all, It was a very emotional and wonderful trip.
I’m not sure what other people meant by making friends – we always enjoy dinner and conversation with 2 or 3 other couples, meet lots of people at Trivia ( one of our favorites ) and find people to be very friendly and enjoyable. We’ve met people from all over the world
We’ll discuss the details when we see each other – I have lots of questions!…………..
Making friends on a cruise is a hit or miss thing I’ve been on a few and found the quest tiresome and not usually rewarding. The benefits of cruising are the things you mentioned like no moving to new hotels. Unpack once and just enjoy. Bring along a good friend, like your husband, and you’re in business. The best cruises are where you are not forced to sit with strangers. There are such cruises. We met a great couple on one of these and CHOSE to dine with them every night. On other cruises we were forced to dine with people we would never have chosen. funny essay????
Have to add to original comment. Just returned from an Italian tour. Made no new friends. Alienated some during unfortunate political conversations. Many had traveled with another couple. We had each other though. Marvelous trip !