My intention was to write a post for my little blog every day of my cruise so my laptop went with me. I opened it and did write a couple of paragraphs after unpacking and before dinner but that was as far as I got. After that I was just too busy, or in need of a little nap to actually write anything. I had watched too many cruise videos with footage of Youtubers sat in their cabins working on their laptops and thinking “I could do that!” The thing is though, they are actually working and yes it may be the best working environment going, but if you are there to promote the ship and cruiseline and your holiday is ‘free’ then you are going to have to put in the hours and spend time writing content or editing videos. Of course there are many Vloggers and bloggers who pay for their cruises and want to share their passion for holidaying in ships and travelling on the seas with everyone else. I must admit that if anyone said to me “Brigitte, would you be up to a cruise aboard our luxury ship to The Med for three weeks in return for a review on your blog?” I would absolutely say yes. Just as long as it was in the school holidays. Or maybe I’d just hand in my notice!

I’m digressing. We can all dream but of course it isn’t going to happen.

So the daily blog writing didn’t happen and buying a backpack especially with a padded laptop compartment was probably a waste of money.

Going to dinner that evening was exciting but at the same time I was a bit nervous. I knew that I was going to be put on a table with other singles, but who were they going to be, and more importantly, would I like and get on with them? What if they turned out to be people who were forever moaning or were full of themselves, or even worse, said nothing? I needn’t have worried. Walking in the direction of my assigned table in the elegant dining room I spied someone waving at me and realised it was Sandy, someone I knew from our conversations, often about prosecco, on the Cruising with Ambassador Facebook group page. What brilliant luck that we were on the same table. As well as myself and Sandy, there was also David and Tony. The four of us got on like a house on fire and their company each evening is what I really looked forward to. We had serious discussions as well as lots of shared laughs. I couldn’t have asked for better table chums.

I discovered that eating in a ship’s dining room, such as the one on Ambience was not the same as eating in a restaurant. In order to serve hundreds of people at once, the waiting staff have to be ulta effecient and everything is done at speed. There’s no asking your waiter to “give me two more minutes” to choose. You are given the menu the moment you sit down and your order is taken very soon after. Wine and water is poured, napkins placed on laps for you and dishes are served in very quick succesion. There is no lingering between courses. By the end of the week it took just 45minutes from sitting down to finishing five courses! There is no hurry to get up and go but most people did because they had a show or bar to go to. It’s not like going out to a restaurant and then having to drive home and that’s the end of the evening. Your meal is just part of a really good evening out, except you are not out, out, if you get what I mean! I loved eating in the dining room. The tables were beautifully laid, the service friendly as well as being super speedy, the company perfect and the food was very good. There were five courses, a starter, soup, salad, main and pudding with four or five choices for the starter, main and dessert including vegetarian options. Apart from on Gala Night, there was also dishes always available if none of the mains that evening appealed. One night I just fancied steak and chips and I could, because it’s always available. Now five courses may seem a lot and of course you don’t have to have them all. I started off by only having three but by the end of the week I was on five. Sea air really gives you an appetite! The courses are all fairly small in size and you never leave the table feeling stuffed. I know that some cruise lines are doing away with a two sitting system at dinner and have introduced freedom dining when you can choose when to eat and have the oppurtunity to share or not share a table. For me on my first cruise, the timed dining and shared table suited me perfectly. It meant that I got to know my table chums and the wonderful waiting staff.

The main dining room isn’t the only option for eating. Ambience has two speciality restaurants, Saffron, serving Indian dishes and Sea and Grass that serves a tasting menu of 8 courses. There is an additional charge for both but neither is expensive. Sadly I didn’t get a chance to try either but I’ve heard that they are both excellent. The other option was Borough Market, the buffet on the 12th deck, but more about that later!

After my busy and excited day I was ready for my bed. The gentle rocking of the ship helped me to fall asleep almost instantly. I’d wanted to text Mr R to say good night but by now my phone was on airplane mode and I had no WiFi so I wasn’t able to. That night, and every other night I slept like a log. The bed was so cosy with a brushed cotton bottom sheet and great duvet and pillow. Nothing disturbed my sleep, not even the noisy air conditioning!

The following morning before doing anything else, including popping the kettle on for that all important first cup of coffee, I popped on my Sea Bands and took two Sturgeron tablets in readiness for the day ahead crossing the North Sea, which was bound to be choppy. Except that it wasn’t. It was as flat as a pancake and I spent most of the day feeling somewhat whoozy especially after a glass of wine at lunch time. Still, it was better to be prepared and that North Sea could turn nasty at a wink of the eye!

I decided to have breakfast in the main dining room thinking I could nab a table to myself but I was quickly shown a table occupied by four. my fellow breakfast chums were lovely and friendly but were all into dogs in a big way and being a confirmed cat lover I didn’t have a lot to say. After that I had breakfast in the buffet where I could be anti social and eat and go.

The rest of the morning was spent people watching whilst drinking capuccinos before heading to the solo welcome cocktail gathering in Raffles. Ambassador is very good at looking after their solo guests and it was one of the reasons for choosing this cruise line. I must admit to feeling a bit self concious walking in and if I hadn’t spied Bev from my coach stop I would probably have sat by myself and hope that someone might talk to me. I’m pretty rubbish at initiating conversation but I’m OK if someone talks to me first. After cocktails ( a rainbow coloured mocktail for me ) we were escorted to a shared reserved table for lunch with wine included. I got chatting to a lady in her 90s who had two further cruises booked over the next to years but didn’t want to book any for after that just incase she wasn’t around anymore!

Another get together later that afternoon in the Purple Turtle pub organised by my table chum Sandy and then a little snooze looking out to sea in the Observatory Lounge on the 14th deck.

That evening was Gala Night when the dress code is formal. I discovered that most people make an effort in the evening and dress smartly. On Gala Night you dress to the nines. Ladies in evening wear or cocktail dresses and men in lounge suits or dickie bows. It was quite a sight seeing everyone dressed up. I really liked it. I hadn’t had an oppurtunity to dress up since Mr R’s last work’s Christmas bash at @Bristol before we got married. Sadly the dress that I had bought especially for the occasion let me down and when I put it on showed more bra than was decent. Lesson learnt, check for possible dress malfunctions before wearing it out!

Following a delicious dinner we were off to the Palladium theatre to watch that evening’s production, Enchanted Garden by the ship’s very talented show team. I admit to having next to no experience of this type of entertainment. Mr R and I tend to go to classical concerts (more his choice rather than mine ) but what I watched blew me away. I could easily have been watching a West End production except I hadn’t had to pay an arm and a leg to watch it. The highlight was a breathtaking rendition of Nessun Dorma which had me in tears. The quality of the entertainment throughout the duration of the cruise was amazing. From the twins playing classical music in the Botanical Lounge, the pianist in Raffles and the three piece group in the Purple Turtle bar. I don’t normally like stand up comics but comedian Lloyd Hollett had me in stitches. There’s also trivia quizzes, bingo and games and acting vignettes performed by the resident actors as well as a production of a play based on The Picture of Dorian Grey performed in the theatre. The highlight for me though was the twice nightly shows. Loved, loved, loved them!

The fabulous shows at the Palladium

Following the show, I was really keen to pop up to the Observatory for the Abba tribute set. My table chums didn’t want to go so I said good night and jumped in the lift. Between getting in and getting out I had met Mandy, also on her own and we decided to become Abba dance chums. And dance we did! I haven’t hit the dance floor in years and it was so good to be back on it. I’m pleased to say that I can still dance even if I need a breather these days after every other song. I was back in my Charing Cross Hospital social club disco days, strutting my stuff but not in lycra and white stilettos. The majority of people cruising with Ambassador may be over 50 but that doesn’t mean that they are tucked up in bed with a cup of cocoa by midnight. The dance floor was consistently packed and the Observatory was still busy when I left at 1am. During the day those not into boogie-ing the night away but loved dancing could polish their cha cha cha or line dancing skills on the very same dance floor most afternoons.

The Observatory, Raffles, The Botanical Lounge

My first day at sea was over. I learnt that I’m not a sharing breakast table sort of person and that taking sea sickness pills isn’t necessary on a sea as calm as a millpond. Always check that your little black dress fits and that I can still dance! The highlight of the day was the Enchanted Garden show, seeing everyone dressed up and dancing to Abba. I didn’t mind time on my own and was enjoying meeting new people.

This was going to be my final instalment but I haven’t even reached Norway yet, so there will be one more that covers my days in the fjords, disembarking and my final thoughts. Hope that you’ll join me here soon.

Ambassador Cruise Line