There’s no point in denying it. As anyone who knows me will tell you, I am dead common.
Fact is I never get invited to parties where a butler hands out the Ferrero Rocher. And the one time I was given a box of After Eights, I’d scoffed the lot by 7:45pm. So it might surprise to you to learn I’m a big supporter of Formal Cruises.
Despite my being very unposh, I think these cruises are a good thing and everyone should seriously consider experiencing one at least once in their lives.
How the other half live
Not that I’ve ever been on one, you understand. But it’s something I’d love to do and once I’ve worked on my social skills and my dress sense, I’d certainly like to have a crack at it.
Though friends strongly advise me against it, I think I could quickly get the hang of this kind of holiday and indeed benefit from it in many ways.
Apart from anything else, there’s a lot an oik like me could learn from observing how the other half conduct themselves. At the same time, I like to think there are a few things I could do to enrich the holiday experience for my fellow passengers.
For instance, I have a great pre-dinner party trick where I juggle three bread rolls and finish by catching one in my mouth. This is generally followed by my famous drum roll on the table using random pieces of cutlery.
Both of these can be great ice breakers at any social event.
But it’s when the mealtime conversation gets under way that I believe I’d really come into my own. I’ve got a wealth of hilarious anecdotes to tell, including the one about my three-legged cat and the problems he has using his litter tray during bouts of diarrhoea.
But let me make one thing clear. Though I may be a bit common, I have great respect for the people who go on formal cruises. My view is, if such cruises didn’t exist, we’d have to invent them.
The reality is we live in a world where courtesy and good social behaviour are in retreat.
If you are used to top quality service and being amongst people who observe the highest standards of etiquette, there are a diminishing number of places where you can go and be truly comfortable.
Thankfully, formal cruising gives you such an option.
Not only will you receive impeccable service, but you will find yourself mixing with like-minded people who appreciate traditional values, old-fashioned good manners and a more elegant and sophisticated lifestyle.
To put it in plain English. You can meet the great unwashed any day of the week. But just once in a while it can be interesting to find yourself surrounded by well-mannered, cultured people of refined taste?
Colleagues who have been on such cruises tell me it can make a refreshing change from the hurly burly of normal, everyday life.
But if you book yourself up on one of these, be aware you will be expected to behave and dress in very particular ways. You must, for example, bring along appropriate eveningwear.
The gentlemen will be expected to wear a tuxedo, though in some cases may be able to get by with a dark suit, while the ladies must come equipped with suitable evening gowns.
By the way, it has to be the right sort of dark suit. I’ve been told my dark track suit, though quite smart, would not pass muster.
It has to be said that being part of such an elegantly clad group of people can make for an unforgettable experience.
When you head out onto the ballroom floor, for instance, you’ll feel you are taking part in something truly special and spectacular.
Since the type of experience you enjoy will vary from ship to ship, it makes sense to
get clear guidelines from the cruise line concerned before you embark. But if you do become a formal cruiser, you are assured of a holiday unlike any other.
Where do you begin?
If this is new territory for you and you are intrigued by the prospect of formal cruising but unsure how well you’ll take to it, you might like to kick off with a mini cruise.
This two-night Western Europe cruise on the Queen Mary 2 could be ideal for giving you a small taste of what it’s all about. Leaving Southampton on Friday 14 October 2011 you’ll sail across to France before returning on the Sunday.
On the other hand, if you feel ready to really push the boat out, you might consider something a bit longer. Perhaps these 12-night Caribbean Stay and Cruise on Caribbean Princess.
Plenty of options
Whatever you decide, if you think this is something you’d like to try, take a look at Virgin’s new Platinum Collection, where you’ll find plenty of other options to choose from.
So where does all this leave me? Well despite my poor credentials for this form of holiday, I’m still keen to give it a bash – just as soon as I can afford the skin grafts to remove my tattoos.
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