It's the captain who can make or break a cruise '“ Rick JacksonÂ Â
The captain of a cruise ship is very much the celebrity on board, especially on British ships that sailout of Southampton.
On our ship, Aurora, our captain is a chap called Neil Turnbull. He's everything you expect a good captain to be, with amusing announcements each morning while retaining an air of authority.
You see his photo around the ship and if you do spot him on his daily rounds, he will always have someone bending his ear.
You see, the seasoned cruise passenger is of the discerning type. They notice absolutely everything.
Has there been a change of soap manufacturer in the cabin since our last cruise? Do the sheets get changed as often? What type of Champagne is the welcome drink these days?
I get why he, or she, is such an important person. They are not only in charge of a floating, moving five-star hotel with very picky customers, but they have to navigate and dock pristine white, very tall ships into small ports.
As our captain turns the ship 180 degrees in a tight harbour during the morning, there will be people up on deck watching his every move.
Then there are all the public engagements, cocktail parties, table hosting and for some, looking after royalty when their ship is named.
One morning, they put on An Audience with the CaptainÂ in the main theatre. It was full, more than 800 people wanting to hear his story.
It was worth it. Full of funny anecdotes and his dry sense of humour exciting passengers with every question, from the Canberra to, yes, who makes the soap!
It was interesting to hear thatÂ his biggest concern is always the weather. Too much wind and his large white ship acts like a sailÂ and she cannot berth safely, meaning a port is missed and passengers are disappointed.
What is reassuring, was to hear him say Aurora wasÂ the best '˜seakeeping' ship in the P&O fleet thanks to her design as a circumnavigating world cruiser.
Comforting words'¦Â for soonÂ we return home soon via the notorious Bay of Biscay.
BANG GOES THE DIET
With food on tap 24 hours a day, all inclusive, I'm starting to feel a bit guilty.
I planned to use the gym regularly and run around the promenade deck in the morning to keep my fitness up and the weight gain down. I'd managed to lose two stonesÂ before the cruise, but two weeks in and I've been to the gym... once.Â
You soon settle into an easy routine on these ships and believe it or not, between breakfast, lunch and dinner, I've simply not had time! Hopefully the amount of walking you do on shore, stairs you climb on board and the slow, lethargic breast stroke you do in the pool will suffice. ButÂ I'm not holding out much hope when I finally step on the scales again.
ALL ABOARD '“Â AND I'M NOT TALKING ABOUT CRUISE SHIPS NOW
I'm getting a new toy so I'm probably the only person on this ship looking forward to getting home.
No, it's not a Porsche, but it does have four wheels,Â six to be precise.
Yes, I've bought another double decker bus!
This former Isle of Wight bus has been running kids to school or taking revellers to Goodwood from Emsworth inÂ theÂ past few years, but now it's time for the 1982-built bus to retire and I'm providing her with aÂ home.Â Don't ask me why, I don't know myself and nor does myÂ wife for that matter! One thing is for certain though, not many mid-life crises comes with an 11-litre engine and 70 seats.Â
No chance of speeding though, she only does 50.