It’s all Jane McDonald, Susan Calman and the penguins of the Antarctic’s fault.

They all stirred in me a yearning to go on a cruise. Of course the connection with this yearning and the lovely Jane is pretty obvious. There’s a tenuous link between the lovely Susan and the penguins. She presented a programme about cruising to Norway on a expedition ship. I googled the company and discovered that they went on expeditions to the Antarctic, and you know what you’ll find there don’t you, penguins!! Ever since reading Hazel Prior’s fab book, Away with the Penguins, I’ve been a bit besotted with penguins. I’ve even adopted one! Since then I’ve had this thing about wanting to go on a cruise.

Moving on. Youtube hasn’t helped either. Scrolling through the menu one day I came across a video about a cruise ship made by a chap called Gary Bembridge from Gary looks a bit like my ex husband and he’s a great authority on cruising. He doesn’t do sugar coating and tells you what’s good and what’s not so good. He’s the sort of guy you sit up straight and listen too. Then I discovered Emma from She is young, fun and a budget cruiser, often opting for inside cabins. Like Gary, she knows everything there is to know about cruising. Recently I discovered my favourite Youtube couple Carole and Paul of who vlog all of their cruises. I love their banter, her happy disposition and her Paulie’s occasional grumpiness. They are like the lovely friendly couple from next door sharing their holidays with you, but also being very imformative at the same time.

After binge watching cruising videos for most evenings when Mr R is away (he prefers back to back videos about air disasters) I’m now getting quite genned up about the different cruise lines, their ships and am now familiar with the terms, aft, bow, stateroom, sail away, tender etc. I’ve learnt about drinks packages, tipping, WiFi onboard, what you can’t take on board and even what happens if you die on board! It’s all very fascinating!

I’m not a cruising newbie! I have been on a cruise. It was in 1991 and my ex husband won a freebie trip for two to Miami including a three night cruise to the Bahamas for being one of the top salespersons for his company. The cruise ship was the Norwegian Cruise Line Sunward 2 and compared to the ships of today, it was tiny. No balcony cabins, a main dining room and bar. A couple of lounges (one called the Bahamarama lounge. Not to be confused with Bananarama), a casino and a tiny pool. My only experience of boats to that date though was trips on cross channel ferries which were not a patch on modern day ferries. There was a lot of formica used back then so our bijou cruise ship seemed pretty luxurious to me, especially as we had to dress up for the gala party. I’d only had a baby two months previously and the opportunity to wear something that wasn’t splattered with baby sick made a nice change. It was great fun and the highlight of the cruise was a day on NCL’s very own Pleasure Island. The only downside was we all got bitten my some sort of sand flea and spent the rest of the holiday itching like crazy!

So, I really, really, really want to go on a cruise. But from so many to choose from which is the right one for me. Well, the giant all singing, all dancing mega resort style ships are definitely not my kind of thing. They have everything under the sun on board, from waterparks complete with waterslides, to go kart tracks, climbing walls, flow riders, zip wires and that’s just on the top deck! The trouble is that I wouldn’t use half of what was on offer and would have to share the ship with up to 5,000 people. Now I do like people, but not that many. Being so big, the ships are limited to where they can dock, so you miss out on discovering some amazing places. For me, the destination experience is one of the main reasons I want to cruise, so I want a smaller ship with a great talks about where you are. I would love to go on a cruise. The interiors of their ships are very Scandi in style,which I love. There is lots of light wood and pale colours throughout the ships. I also like the fact that their cruises are very enrichment focused. Learning about the destinations on the cruise is something that really interests me.The downside for me is that the cruises are expensive. I could buy a decent second hand small car for the cost of a Viking cruise. I’m also quite taken with cruises. Traditional, very British and you get to dress to impress on one or two nights too. Who doesn’t like the opportunity to pop on something glitzy and feel rather special.The downside, and this applies to most cruises is that there are the added extras. You need to factor in paying for drinks packages, WIFI, gratuities and supplements for speciality dining. It all adds up. The ships are beautiful though.

There was a time when I thought that Saga, the company, could not possibly be for me. Saga was for the elderly who used mobility scooters and played bingo. How wrong I was. Maybe that’s because I now fall into the over 50’s only rule and I definitely don’t need a mobility scooter and I don’t play bingo, but that’s nothing to do with age but because I don’t like the game. I admit that I looked up Saga cruises and didn’t expect to like them. I was expecting very traditional, perhaps old fashioned even, ships. How wrong could I be. The ships are new, beautiful and very and an added bonus is that all of the roomy cabins have balconys. The great thing too is that they are all inclusive and you get picked up from your house and taken to and from the port. Obviously being a cruise for the over 50’s only (although a partner who is over 40 can go) there are no children on board. As much as I love children and work with them, there are times when I just love to be with adults only and on holiday is one of them. Along with Cunard, Saga is top of my list of preferred cruise lines. All of the cruise ships that I have seen have amazing food, and lots of it. If you know me, you know that I enjoy my food, so the dining experience is very important to me. I love that afternoon tea is included on Cunard and that the speciality restaurants are included with Saga and Viking.

Then again there’s the expedition cruise to see the penguins with Hurtigruten. I just love saying that word Hur-ti_groo-ten and I want to wear their big red jackets. Susan Calman on the guest list would be rather fun too!

There is one big stumbling block to achieving my cruising dream. My darling husband. He doesn’t do people and they are obviously hard to avoid on a ship. Neither does he like queuing or most forms of music other than classical music. He has said that he’d be happy spending the cruise in our cabin and I can go and do my own thing which really isn’t the point of going on holiday together. I love him to bits but he really can be very frustrating at times. I thought that I had a breakthrough last weekend when he saw the cruise ships docked outside our hotel in Southampton and was pretty wowed by them. He went as far as saying he would consider going on a cruise, but it was short lived and is getting cold feet. The thing is I got him on a plane after many years of refusing to fly and he was surprised that it was actually alright and we didn’t crash somewhere over the alps, so I’m thinking that he’ll eventually cave in and buy a pair of deck shoes and a jaunty sailors hat and go.

We will see!