Perhaps the biggest surprise came when checking in at the cruise terminal. “Oh, there’s Davin from school,” said Son1, as though it was completely normal to come across a school friend some 8,000 miles away from home. They gave each other a dab. Davin’s mother and I, both clutching our suitcases and bags, thought the boys were joking until it became obvious our sons really did know each other – and we really did live just two streets away from each other, in the same compound.
The next revelation was that, although there were some 2,600 passengers on board, which did, at times, suggest no let up from tourism hell, you could actually lose almost everyone by finding a quiet corner of the ship from which to read, or just watch the ocean. At night, the moon sparkled on its dark, wrinkly surface, and without any bright city lights, the stargazing was amazing – like being cocooned (make that dwarfed) in your own enormous, outdoor planetarium.
I also loved having a porthole in our little room, from which (we were just above sea level) the docile white-tipped waves looked like carpets unfurling, splashing the side of the boat playfully. On the last evening, another cruise ship floated past on the horizon, its lights a necklace of glitter.
Of course, the kids had their ‘moments’, especially as they had to go cold turkey from wifi. “What? Seriously, NO wifi? Son2 whined, his eyes widening, pulling a tortured face like he’d eaten a lemon. [Whispers:] Actually there was wifi, but it was an extra and expensive.
Both DH and I lapped the ship numerous times looking for them when they went awol (my mind working overtime wondering if one of them had pushed the other overboard), and then, the worst ‘moment’, Son2 vanished while we were snorkelling off CocoCay Island (Royal Caribbean’s private island – perhaps not the Bahamian paradise advertised with some 2,000 cruise-goers all over it – yes, some did stay put on the boat! – but a wonderful stop nevertheless).
Put it this way, the island’s lifeguards are now on first name terms with my eight year old, who’d simply had enough and decided to swim half a kilometre back to shore all by himself. They found him on the beach, perfectly fine, his mask and snorkel jettisoned in the sand. I’m still recovering from that one.
All in all, I loved the cruise. It didn’t turn into a nausea-riddled, hermetically sealed cruise passenger pen; no-one went overboard; exploring Nassau was fab; and the 70s disco was lots of fun. While DH wasn’t looking, I even visited the ‘Next Cruise’ on-board sales stand and pocketed a few leaflets advertising longer floating jollies into Alaska, and to Mexico via Cuba. I’ve got a year to persuade him …