Stormy weather? You’re bluffing

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The message from the bridge was stark. As Saga Pearl II’s passengers relaxed over afternoon tea, Captain David Warden-Owen came on the public address to warn that once we left the shelter of Alesund harbour and headed out into the North Sea, we were in for a rough ride.
The icy northerly winds which have been chilling Britain for the past few days were blasting down the Norwegian coastline, whipping up three-metre seas.
As we had to be in Bergen by the morning, there was no way of taking shelter or avoiding the conditions.
It wasn’t quite “batten down the hatches,” but we were left in no doubt that we should expect a bumpy night.
In the event, the plucky Pearl seemed to be riding the weather pretty well, despite her relatively shallow 20-ft draught.
There were no clattering crockery crashes during dinner, and passengers could eat their broccoli and Stilton soup without risk of a sudden spillage.
Nevertheless, those who carried on to enjoy the Call My Bluff panel game could have been forgiven for a sharp intake of breath when the figure of Captain Warden-Owen, heavily wrapped in a waterproof jacket, materialised on stage in mid-show.
What could be so important that he had to interrupt the panellists in the middle of providing definitions for the word “pongoes”?
Were we all about to be sent to our cabins to grab warm clothing and life jackets, ready to abandon ship?
Not a bit of it. As it turned out, the Captain thought we ought to know that after days of deliberation, Britain had a new Government.
Gordon Brown had resigned, and David Cameron was with the Queen – a remark which prompted a decidedly non-PC joke from the genial Clifford Wrate, a long-retired Scotland Yard detective inspector who is on board as a guest speaker, and Call My Bluff panellist.
The audience reaction to the news was remarkably muted. A small cheer and little else. They were far more interested in discovering whether “pongoes” was Australian slang or an insulting naval term for anyone in the army.
The election and its aftermath have barely registered on the conversational barometer throughout the cruise. Perhaps some passengers chose to be on board at this time deliberately to get away from it all. Maybe they have seen it all before and are prepared for any eventuality.
Anyway, Warden-Owen melted away, the panel game continued with some hilarious contributions from assistant cruise director John Parton (who would be guaranteed a role if ever anyone decided to make a film biography of Bob Monkhouse) and we learnt that “pongoes” indeed refers to the army
Even the weather began to settle down and the delightful violin duo Elektra tripped the light fantastic without, er, tripping.
And we arrived in Bergen on schedule to find the cruise ship MSC Orchestra towering over us at the quayside. I bet they didn’t have half as much fun on board last night as the intrepid Saganauts.

By | 2010-05-12T11:27:06+00:00 12 May 2010|Cruise entertainment, Cruise gossip|0 Comments

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

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