I've just seen the 'Beast from the East' headline for the UK weather forecast on Sky News and we're feeling smug with our decision to have a winter off, away from the motor home. We struggled enough with the cold last year in Greece and Turkey, so the Floridian climate is providing us with a winter duvet.
As we had time on our side we took a transatlantic cruise to America. 13 nights from Barcelona with stops in Palma de Mallorca, Malaga and Tenerife. The first crossing for the brand new 5 1/2 star Celebrity Reflection. It is a beautiful ship, loaded with all the latest technology. The food, however was deemed a bit too 'Arty farty' by my picky husband. That wasn't their fault, hearty stews with loads of sauce would never have been high on the agenda for the chefs, passengers or crew. As you can imagine Mike wasn't left to starve as there was always plenty of choice. Diners were well behaved around the buffet and we didn't see the stereotypical 'plate piled high syndrome' featured on fly on the wall documentaries. I marvelled at a woman who was asked to walk to the other side of the counter for the patisserie selection because the server was trying to clean the area. A distance of under 60 feet must have pushed up her stress levels beyond tolerable as she actually stamped her foot and said she couldn't walk that far!
Security were called one day over an incident involving Germans and sunbeds so I guess we could have been next to any pool in the world based on that holiday observation. Fortunately no-one noticed the day I found Mike lying on his sunbed, showing off his natty 'Y' fronts when he thought he'd already changed into his Speedos. Very few men can get away with wearing Speedos, but even fewer can show off their shreddies for the benefit of cruise companions. The excitement could have been too much and security may have been forced to throw him overboard.
The itinerary promised 6 days at sea to cross the Atlantic Ocean but this was increased to 9 and the stop in Tenerife was cancelled because there was some problem with one of the engines, preventing the ship from reaching full speed. I must confess that I worried about this. The anniversary year of the sinking of the Titanic and we were making the crossing, away from icebergs but were we risking our lives? Would the headlines wonder what we were thinking? Was the crossing being made in view of commercial pressures and passenger safety on the back burner? Well, of course not. They'd fixed the engine before we left the Mediterranean and the rumours were building up amongst us passengers.
So what do you do with 9 days at sea? Not a lot. Read, sleep, eat, watch TV, sunbathe, go to the theatre, work out in the gym, people watch and make up gossip to scare other passengers. It was relaxing but a tad too long without stepping on dry land.