TRAVEL BLOG: Norway Part Two: Life On The Ocean Wave (06/05/23)

We were up reasonably early, waking up to the sight of the North Sea scrolling past our bedroom window. The sea was much calmer than the stereo typical image of a turbulent field of white horses I had imagined, and I noted that I hadn’t felt seasick once. Yet.

After breakfast I gazed out of the window watching the oil rigs that are contributing to the Scottish economy and the death of our planet.

This is apparently a small cruise ship, rocking in with a mere three and a half thousand passenger capacity. Its carbon footprint must be on the substantial side, to say the least. One report puts the average fuel usage of each of these ships at 150 tons of fuel a day, which releases as much particulate matter into the air as about 1 million automobiles each day.

I go for a little explore. There are several restaurants, some of which are included in the ticket price, some specialist restaurants which cost a little extra. I counted at least two cinemas, the largest of which was screening the Coronation as I wandered in, and quickly wandered back out. There are pubs, night clubs, a gym, a spa and shops selling overpriced designer goods. There’s also an area where a photographer will take photos of you. In this day and age, when everyone has a phone in their pocket, it seems like a bit of a rip off to me.

The only thing that I found interesting was an art gallery, which had some really beautiful modern art on display (now there’s three words you won’t often here me use in the same sentence). But as nice as it was, I don’t have a spare five grand to blow on art this week.

On the upper decks there are several pools. Some are for everyone, some are adults only. I don’t think there’s anything exciting going on, it’s just a place to relax away from screaming kids, of which, there aren’t very many, actually. There are areas for basketball, cricket and football and a small area to practice your golf swing.

Despite the inclement weather we have had lately, and the fact that we are steaming through the North Sea, the sun is out and there are many taking advantage of the pool and the sun loungers around them.

Below deck, there’s a veritable smorgasbord of activities on offer, from line dancing, and cookery classes, to talks about serial killers.

I get the impression that many people come on a cruise to relax and enjoy the facilities. That’s the main reason they go for this type of all-inclusive holiday.  The type of people that were moaning about other ships being better yesterday. But I’m here for the Fjords.  I’m not really interested in a floating Butlins. I just like the idea of going to sleep in one city/town/fjord and waking up in another. The all you can eat thing is not to be sniffed at though.

On that note, I wander down for a sneaky salad, have a swift pint of cider, a cheeky curry and chips then back to the cabin to get ready for dinner.

Whilst changing I put the ship’s navigation charts on the TV. Twenty-four hours at sea and we are only level with Glasgow.  This is confusing, given that we saw oil rigs last night. *Note to self: look up the location of oil rigs when home.

Once suited and booted we head up to Posh and Becks’ cabin to get pre-loaded on G&T.

Tonight is black tie. This is the first time in my six decades on the planet that I’ve ever worn a dickie bow. And you can tell. As we walked from aft to stern there are hundreds of people that rock a dickie bow like only people that wear them on a regular basis can. We plot ourselves in a sophisticated bar that has some ball room dancing going down and have a naughty champagne to celebrate Posh and Beck’s sixteenth anniversary of not being married.

Tonight, the restaurant staff are less prescriptive and we finally get seated together. The waiting staff are incredibly friendly and efficient.  We are soon tucking into a rather stunning meal. In the buffet area there are veggie options, but it’s a box ticking exercise, a token gesture.  In the restaurant, however, it’s a different story. The menu is created by Marco Piere White. He obviously ain’t cooking it, but it’s a damn sight more inspiring than deck sixteen canteen.

After dinner we head to the very fore of the ship to finish the night off sat in decadent armchairs listening to a man called Vladimir banging out some lounge-core on the old Joanna. We are not in the Dagger Reform Club now Dorothy.

I sit in an incredibly comfortable chair (Chesterfield maybe?) in suit and black tie, drinking gin and tonic, listening to a pianist, in a 143,000 ton metal box, floating in the North Sea past huge oil rigs. And the weird thing is, this feels perfectly normal.

Eventually things start getting frayed around the edges and, with talk of karaoke in the air, I head for bed.