Written by Stanley Greenberg Tuesday, 06 November 2012 09:29
Going on a cruise with 2,300 Englishmen (and half of them women) and only 150 Americans. Blimey!
The Englishmen seemed to all come out of Central Casting in Hollywood. It was a boat full of David Nivens: well-mannered, gray around the temples and not too sure about their thoughts of Yanks. Their English was impeccable, and it was as if Lorraine and I had walked into the screening of an English movie. We met six lovely ladies from North Devon; they were utterly charming.
Before cruising, we took a five-and-half hour plane ride from JFK on Virgin Atlantic Airlines. They hosted a wonderful trip, and the crew was outstanding. We arrived at Heathrow Airport and we had to walk what seemed like three miles to collect our baggage. It was all there, thank goodness.
A bus trip to Southampton was next. We waited on a huge, circuitous line on the ship until we reached our stateroom, where we would reside for the next 22 days. Our accommodations were spectacular, except we could get no baseball scores and no stock market results.
The first port of call was Cadiz, Spain. Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago; they thought it was the end of the world. We took a bus around town and stopped at a sherry factory in Jerez (in Spain, a wine factory is called a Bodega.) We all sampled the three types of sherry, light, heavier and creamier. We emerged from sherry tasting with no great feelings for sherry. The place reeked of wine and it took a while to get it out of your clothing and your nostrils.
While the Atlantic Ocean had been rough and stormy, when we reached the Mediterranean Sea the weather suddenly turned sunny and warm. On deck, thousands of English people sat and gathered in the sun. They explained that they had a rough, rainy summer and were happy to bask in the Mediterranean sun.
We had encountered an interesting situation near the Algerian Coast. Twenty-five Algerians were sailing on a rubber craft for safety and economic freedom in Spain, but their craft floundered. Our ship, the huge Grand Princess, picked up these refugees, who had not eaten or drank fresh water for over four days. They looked terrible. Soon, as is the way of the seas, an Algerian gun boat came to pick them up and return them to what they had tried to escape from.
To be continued next week.