The 12 days of Cruise-mas

//The 12 days of Cruise-mas

Every cruise director has a collection of dumb questions from passengers who have difficulty grasping the basics of a cruise ship, or indeed life itself.
Here’s my favourite dozen, to keep you amused as Christmas approaches.
1. How far above sea level are we?
Well take a look, it’s all around you.
2. Does the ship generate its own electricity?
If it didn’t, it would need an awfully long extension cable.
3. What time is the midnight buffet?
Take a guess . . . though to be fair, this is not such a dumb question. The buffet usually starts before the witching hour, though some ships have abandoned them altogether now they have food available 24 hours a day.

4. Do these stairs go up or down?
Actually, they go diagonally.
5. Is this island completely surrounded by sea?
No, part of it is surrounded by sand, but that’s the bit with the sun loungers and parasols.
6. (To the ship’s photographers): How will we know which pictures are ours?
Look for the people who look totally clueless; that will be you.
7. (To the Captain, when introduced at the welcome cocktail party): If you’re back here, who’s driving the ship?
Commodore Bernard Warner, of the Queen Mary 2, says this is the question he gets asked more often than any other. Earlier this month, when I was sitting down to dinner with Commodore Steve Burgoine on the Ventura, a passenger at the next table did actually ask the question. His reply, delivered with a broad smile, was a distinctly salty invitation for her to go away.
8. What happens to the ice sculptures when they have melted?
The smart answer is that they re-freeze them to use as ice cubes in drinks.
9. Is the water in the swimming pool fresh water or sea water?
One passenger, when told it was sea water, responded “That explains why it’s so rough in there.

By | 2017-06-15T16:00:50+00:00 22 December 2008|Cruise Gossip|6 Comments

About the Author:

John Honeywell is a travel writer specialising in cruise ships and cruise travel. Winner of CLIA UK's Contribution to Cruise award 2017.


  1. Julie 5 January 2009 at 11:43 am - Reply

    HELP! My husband and I have booked our first cruise on the Ventura leaving on the 4th December 2009(caribbean) After reading the reviews they have left me terrified!!! This cruise is a real treat for us and I would hate to be really let down as we are looking forward to it so much!
    Do I really need to worry? can P&O have really gotten it so wrong?
    Also, can you advise if we prefer to eat on our own, which dining option should we go for?
    We have booked the premium seats and I am told we are flying with Thomson £398.00 for the two of us, P&O are somewhat vague about what we actually get for the money. i.e. big leather recliners of just a little extra room? can you shed any light on this?

  2. John Honeywell 5 January 2009 at 3:47 pm - Reply

    Hi Julie
    I’m sure you have nothing to worry about. You should certainly not be terrified. There were a number of negative reviews of Ventura when the ship first entered service, mostly from P&O regulars who found things on board were different from what they were used to.
    If this is going to be your first cruise, you won’t have the same expectations those reviewers had. And by the time you sail, you will find that P&O have addressed most of the issues that were causing problems in the first season.
    They are increasing the amount of open deck space for sunbathing, and tweaking the restaurant service, for example.
    You will have seen from my earlier blogs that my Caribbean cruise on Ventura last November/December was thoroughly enjoyable. You should be able to read my report in full in the Daily Mirror on January 24.
    As for dining, you could either request a table for two in the restaurants offering fixed seating (same table, same time each day) or you could opt for the freedom dining where you either book on the day or turn up at the restaurant in the evening and request a table for two.
    My wife and I followed the second option and always got the table we wanted. Sometimes it meant a short wait but it was never longer than 20 minutes. The only downside was that dinner tends to be a bit rushed, with each course following quickly on the last.
    I would thoroughly recommend you book a meal in the White Room and in East at least once during your cruise. If you just want a casual evening meal you can always eat in the Waterside restaurant – the curry-themed evenings are especially good. And a little tip if you want somewhere for a quiet drink away from the crowds after dinner – weather permitting, the Terrace Bar aft of the Beach House restaurant is open in the evenings and there’s hardly ever anyone there apart from senior officers relaxing after their day’s work.
    I flew standard class, but the Thomsonfly website tells me that their premium seats have the following benefits:
    Long Haul Premium Class Comfort
    # At least 36

  3. JULIE 12 January 2009 at 7:00 pm - Reply

    Thanks for your reply. The things I am hearing are just getting worse. Today I have listened to a radio programme(BBC Radio 2) apparently over xmas and new year the Ventura had problems with Clientelle setting fire to the xmas tree, fighting and urinating over the sunbeds, someone actually got glassed and a passenger had to step in and try to sort it out as the security staff seemed to not have a clue how to deal with it. Another major concern my husband has it that we are reading reports that the ship is known as “The ship that never docks” because of its size it is experiencing problems in high winds. Although some passengers state the sea has been like a mill pond yet it still missed 3 ports in the caribbean, when other ships were docking. We chose this itinerary because of the amount of port visits. I have tried to change my cruise to a princess cruise (I am told sister company) yet I am unable to change without losing a £500.00 deposit. Have you heard anything with regards to these problems. Thanks!!!

  4. John Honeywell 13 January 2009 at 5:03 pm - Reply

    Yes, there were clearly a number of problems and incidents on the New Year cruise, but I have a feeling that most of the passengers would have remained blissfully unaware of them.
    In the confines of a cruise ship, however, rumours and gossip spread like wildfire.
    There was some discontent because the weather forced the ship to miss three ports of call and it may well be that the other incidents are being brought into play to support claims for compensation.
    I still think you should have no need to worry about your cruise next December.
    I know I would feel safer drinking in any bar on any cruise ship than going out to my local town centre pub or club on a Saturday night.
    Security at sea is excellent; discreet without being overbearing.
    I hate to admit it, but I find myself agreeing with what Christine Hamilton had to say on Radio 2 yesterday.
    Having said all that, if you continue to be concerned, then you should push to transfer your booking to Princess or Holland America, both sister lines to P&O. Parent company Carnival is not going to lose out if they keep your custom.

  5. Julie 15 January 2009 at 11:53 am - Reply

    You have helped to put my mind at rest and I am feeling excited about my cruise again!!! Thank you so much.
    Only other questions I have for you are –
    I believe there is an adults only pool on board the Ventura, is this correct and adhered to? and finally, my husband and I would just like to spend our days off the ship sunning ourselves on a some gorgeous beaches, as cruise virgins how do we go about this? jump in a taxi? are they within walking distance of ports? are there any you would recommend?
    We are visiting Barbados, St Lucia, St Vincent, St Kitts, Tortola, Dominican Republic, Grand Turk, Antigua, St.Maarten, Dominica.
    Thanks again, this site has been a great help, look forward to reading your report in the Daily Mirror.

  6. John Honeywell 16 January 2009 at 1:47 pm - Reply

    Julie: Happy to be of service !
    The Terrace Pool (aft of the Beach House Restaurant) is adults-only because it’s too deep for kids, and there’s no shallow end.
    The beach at Grand Turk is right next to the pier, and there’s not much else to do in Grand Turk to be honest. I assume you will be at Catalina Island off the Dominican Republic, and that’s another beach day, with a barbecue and bars provided by the ship’s crew.
    There’s also a pleasant beach within walking distance from the ship at Phillipsburg in St Maarten, or better still, take the water taxi. The beach is right next to the town, so you can combine shopping and sunbathing. There are jetskis for hire and boat rides, and plenty of bars and restaurants behind the beach.
    On the other islands, you can usually get a taxi to a nearby beach, and the drivers will be able to recommend the best ones for swimming, subathing or snorkelling. You’ll probably have to share a taxi, and in places like Tortola, it’s not so much a taxi as an open sided truck with bench seats.
    The drivers are very good at picking you up in time to get you back to the ship as well.
    Have a great time.

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