It has just occurred to me, on signing off the last piece in this series “Alfie” and then starting this one with “A Life…” that it would have been amusing to title them all “Alfie on the Ocean Wave…..”. I wonder how many people would have noticed that it was not, in fact, the old song title that I am actually using.
The ship on which Faith and I found ourselves had a passenger capacity of around 3200, the crew complement was in the region of 1200 and, assuming that roughly one third of the latter were off duty at any given time, there had to be something for around 3600 people to do during the day outside of normal meal times.
On the M.V. Azura there are no less than 4 swimming pools for use during the day by everyone (except, of course, for those ashore on excursions) but we did not make much use of them. Perhaps on a Mediterranean or Caribbean cruise pool time would have been essential but the weather on this trip, even at the height of summer was what we might have expected for Norway – i.e. like the UK but slightly colder!
Actually we did not have much opportunity to search around for things to do as on all but the arrival, departure and “at sea” days we had booked excursions to see a bit more than just the local docks.
I said above “what we might have expected” and by “we” I mean not just Faith and I but anyone else aboard who had actually looked at a map to see where exactly Norway IS!
This was, quite plainly, by no means all of the passengers as we spoke with several couples of around our own age who, on the grounds that it was SUMMER had packed only shorts t-shirts and sandals. Several of them were bemoaning the fact that the weather was cold and drizzly some of the time!
I can only assume that when making their bookings they somehow got confused between “Norway” and “North Africa”!
Needless to say, when we reached our first stop at Stavanger and embarked on a conducted walking tour of the town while wearing waterproof coats with the hoods up those people were definitely not in evidence!
Given the slightly disappointing weather you will not be too surprised to learn that, even with the sun setting at around 11:30p.m. (and then only for about 4 hours) we tended to frequent the inside activities following our evening meal each day.
All passengers are given a daily newsletter detailing the entertainment available that day and on one of these I caught a glimpse of the magic word “QUIZ”! A closer examination revealed this to be a “1960s and 70s Music quiz” and I am sure you will be really startled to learn that “we” decided to enter it.
There were a number of groups of 4 or 6 people awaiting the start but because I hate conflict (especially with strangers and especially if they try to tell me I’m wrong when I know I’m not) Faith and I stayed as a team of 2. There were 30 questions in all; 10 “name the group”; 10 “name the song” and 10 “name the year” and we scored 27.
Faith is always a little worried that I’m going to get all sulky if I don’t win things like this but as usual she didn’t get to find out – we were 1 point ahead of a couple of those larger groups and won a bottle of wine. This we drank one fine evening sitting on the balcony of our cabin watching the sun trying to set.
On other evenings we decided to be a little less cerebral and watched the resident “covers” band, a Tina Turner tribute act and the Ship’s entertainment team doing a Motown tribute show. All very professional especially with a few Mojitos inside me to deaden the occasional bum note!
And how did all that compare with the good old S.S. Nevasa in 1968?
Well, during the day there were classrooms for us to do our pre-set “homework” in and somewhat larger lecture halls in which we were given information “en-masse” about our next port of call.
In the evening there was a cinema but apart from that the only “entertainment” consisted of seeing how many times you could walk around the promenade deck! I believe that I watched “Casino Royale” (the David Niven spoof version) twice and “The Jokers” featuring Michael Crawford and Oliver Reed three times! Oh, and I think John Lamb and I managed 20 or 30 “laps” of the deck on a couple of occasions!
We are now heading rapidly towards 2 months since that trip so there will be just one more item in this series to wrap it up.