Listen, I’m a relaxed, even-tempered kind of guy. Nothing ever ruffles me. Absolutely nothing. Except maybe this one thing.
I hate it when people attempt to muscle in on my holiday. I hate them trying to encroach on my precious time at sea. When that happens it sends me into a boiling rage. It’s my cruise, after all, and I’ll spend my time on the ocean how I want to, thank you very much.
Let’s start with the most common way people try to do this.
Autumn in New England
It all begins harmlessly enough. You book an autumn package to New England, for example, and naturally you mention it to a few friends.
Big mistake. Once word gets out they start demanding you send them a postcard.
Well, I’m sorry, I don’t do postcards. Have you any idea how much time and effort it takes to track down a suitable card, locate a pen that works and then write the damn thing?
I’m on holiday, remember. But hey, don’t let that stop you. After I’ve finished writing your postcard, perhaps you’d like me to complete your tax and VAT returns for you, maybe clean up the registry on your laptop and defrag your hard drive.
You know, it’s amazing how much time one can spend on a cruise with nothing to do. So any extra tasks you can give me to kill time are obviously going to be extremely welcome. Not.
Look, here’s a practical suggestion. If you’re really so desperate to know how the trip turned out for me and my family, why don’t you hire a private detective to follow us?
For goodness’ sake, it’s not as though I’m going to write anything in my postcard you haven’t read 100 times before on every other postcard you’ve ever received.
Then there are those folk who suggest that during my holiday I keep a diary, so they can read about my family’s adventures on the high seas.
Excuse me, but I’m a professional writer for whom time is money. Are you willing to pay me for all those hours I’ll spend at my iPad writing about safety drills and how I went native in five different ports?
Tell you what, given you’re a builder, maybe we can do a deal. I’ll write the diary, if you build me a conservatory while I’m away. Sounds fair to me.
Life on a cruise ship
Another insane idea that sometimes raises its head is that I should walk round the ship with a video camera, to produce a video guide to life at sea. Apparently, it would be great for all my non-cruising friends.
Yes, and while I’m about it, why don’t I hire a couple of helicopters to do some aerial shots of the ship, and commission a submarine to film the vessel from below the surface?
And just to make things a little more showbiz, maybe I could persuade the captain and crew to do a bloody song and dance number at the end.
No problem. I’ll be happy to organise all of that. It’s not as if I’ve got anything better to do while I’m cruising.
These intrusions into my holiday don’t just extend to my onboard schedule. Some people like to inveigle their way into my shore trips as well, with all sorts of crazy requests.
Let’s get this straight. I don’t care if your daughter is doing a school project on Mediterranean brick manufacture.
When I cruise to Egypt next month, I will not be visiting any brick factories for her, nor will I be booking a meeting with the head of the Egyptian Association of Brick Manufacturers.
I don’t care if the World Brick Making Championships are taking place in Cairo while I’m there – I won’t be attending.
And before I forget, I don’t do gifts either.
Don’t ask me to buy any kind of item that would take up room in my luggage or involve me spending time in a shop. I’m going on holiday, not taking part in an episode of Supermarket Sweep.
I know it’s a Baltic cruise, but while I’m away don’t expect me to get any of those Finnish reindeer biscuits you love. My holiday is too short to waste time on stuff like that.
And no, if it turns out the cruise isn’t going to Finland, I won’t be asking the captain to scrub Stockholm from the itinerary so we can make a detour to Helsinki. Trust me, you can still lead a full life, even if your biscuit tin contains nothing reindeer-shaped.
Benefits of cruising
For one last time, let’s be clear about this. It’s my cruise and nobody else’s. My schedule will be dictated entirely by my own needs and priorities, not by anyone else’s.
If you want to enjoy the benefits of a cruise, then please book your own and be sure to make the most of it.
But if you are going to do that, don’t forget to keep in touch while you’re away. A couple of texts a day is all I need and, of course, a regular video blog so I can see what you’re up to.