New Year’s Eve at Sea

Another long, leisurely sea day today as the Boudicca just glided along placidly in the warm turquoise waters of the Indian Ocean; it was great to wake up this morning on the last day of 2018, and look forward to just doing what we wanted, when we wanted.  😊

What we wanted to do first, in fact, was greet the day with another Buck’s Fizz breakfast, as tonight was obviously formal night once again.  We enjoyed a couple of glasses of the free fizz in the Tintagel restaurant, before going out on deck and wandering around in the sunshine, breathing in the fresh sea air and just marvelling at he vastness of the sky and the ocean.  We never tire of this; the pleasure never fades.  😊

At 11 o’clock we attended a talk called “Discovering the Plants and Flowers of the Seychelles”, given by botanist Tracy Foster.  It was a fascinating talk and we learned all about the plants that were native to the Seychelles, including the famous coco de mer, the female tree of which produces a large, heavy fruit reminiscent in appearance to a female human’s thighs and lower belly.  Coincidentally, the male tree produces a long, phallic-looking catkin to accompany the coco de mer – they’ll probably be the most suggestive fruits you’ll ever see.  😊

After the talk we strolled around the deck a little more, and listened to the captain’s noon navigational information.  At the end of his announcement he made a little quote: “We never grow up, we just learn how to behave in public”.

We then decided to eat lunch up on deck by the pool, along with a refreshing glass of cold cider.  We were joined by another lady, a solo traveller who was a first-time Fred passenger, although she was a regular cruiser on other lines.

In fact, one of the things that is a constant conversational theme on cruises is the element of “one-upmanship” that is prevalent among the passengers (and Trevor and I are as guilty as anyone!); it’s a case of who’s been on the most cruises, who’s been to the most countries, who’s in the better cabin grade and who has the higher Oceans Club level. Conversations are peppered with destinations visited, sights seen and famous persons met.  It’s all good fun, however, and you can often get good recommendations or hear interesting stories to bear in mind for future trips.

The time passed in its usual pleasantly relaxing way, then at 1.45pm we went along to the Neptune Lounge to participate in the dance class, as today the dance instructors were covering the rumba and the cha cha cha, which Trevor and I have been learning at home.  We really enjoyed the lesson and danced to some good music. No doubt we’d be putting it into practice later on.

As it was warm in the Neptune Lounge and we’d worked up a thirst dancing, we decided to go along to the Lido Lounge and have a drink.  While we were in there, we listened to the passenger choir practising some songs for the concert they’d be putting on later in the cruise.  Ruth, from table #31, is in the choir.  Trevor enjoyed a “Newky Broon” while I had a very moreish Sangria cocktail.  😊

We then returned to our stateroom (suite!!) and had a 30-minute power-nap, as we knew we’d be up late tonight and there was still a lot of the day to come.  Afterwards, I got showered and put on my makeup and did my hair, in readiness for the New Year Cocktail Party which was on in the Neptune Lounge at half-five for early dinner (i.e. first-sitting) passengers.

As tonight’s formal evening was “hint of tartan”, Trevor wore a Black Watch tartan dickie-bow and cummerbund with his dinner suit. I didn’t have anything tartan, but I dressed in a long black and copper satin, velvet and lace Gothic dress which I wore with long black evening gloves and a black lace choker.  As expected, my sartorial tastes attracted a lot of comments from other passengers and staff, particularly a very pleasant couple, Ken and Lynn, who we’d got talking to on the first formal evening and who asked us to join them.

We enjoyed three or so glasses of the (free!) fizz and listened to the excellent Boudicca Orchestra playing, before the music and conversation were interrupted by a blast of bagpipes blaring out Scotland the Brave.  Along came Allan Tait, the cruise director, fully kilted up and accompanied by the chef, in his whites and tall hat, and a couple of the dancers, also dressed in tartan.  The chef bore a large platter on which rested a haggis, and Alan tried to put on his best Scottish accent and read out Robert Burns’ Ode to the Haggis.  Then Alan stabbed a long knife into the haggis and everyone cheered, as the procession left the stage and dinner was announced.

Inside the Tintagel Restaurant, everyone’s place setting contained a party hat and a blower and the captain’s little quote of the day came to mind, with everyone donning their hats and a cacophony of tooting, squeaking and blaring filling the air.  It was a happy party atmosphere, made even more so when the maître d’ approached our table with a bottle of chilled cava to apologise for forgetting to bring our “anniversary” cake yesterday.  We shared it around the six of us and everyone clinked glasses.  😊

The meal, unsurprisingly, was Scottish Hogmanay themed, and indeed any Scottish people (including Ruth and Mike on our table) had come attired in their best formal jackets and kilts.  We started off with haggis, tatties and neeps accompanied by a “wee dram”, then I enjoyed fresh salad, followed by steak accompanied by rosé wine.  When it came to the dessert stage, we waited to see what would happen.  Sure enough, we heard the sound of approaching tambourines and a guitar, and the waiters all gathered round and sang Congratulations, to an accompaniment of squeaks and hoots from people’s blowers. 😊

Then we were presented with a cake with the words “Happy Anniversary” on it in chocolate, and it was shared out around the table.  John very generously paid for everyone to have an after-dinner liqueur, so I enjoyed my usual amaretto.  What a lovely meal it had been, such good fun and a lovely atmosphere, and the evening was far from over.

Then it was along to the Neptune Lounge for tonight’s show company production, called “Musicology”, which was described in the daily programme as “a collection of various musical genres from pop to rock to opera”.  We sat with John and Margaret off our table, and Don the entertainment host came round with some glow-in-the-dark necklaces (or head-bands) which everyone put on, along with their daft hats.  It was really excellent, and a certainly a very different show, in fact all the entertainment so far has been superb.

Afterwards we just watched the dancers (we didn’t join in this time because I didn’t want to trip over my long dress!) before going out on the rear decks to bag a good table for the grand New Year’s Eve Deck Party.  Outside, we found ourselves sitting with Dave and Julie.  It seemed surreal to be sitting out in the balmy air, looking at the stars above and feeling the warm breeze on our faces – on the last day of December, the depths of winter at home. 😊

Ruth (from our table in the restaurant) had returned to their cabin after dinner for a sleep, as it was a big event tonight for her – she had brought her bagpipes with her and was going to pipe in the New Year from the upper decks!  So she hadn’t had a drink and was keeping herself right for her moment later on.

The music started and people got up to dance and the champagne and cocktails flowed.  There was such a festive, happy atmosphere; everyone was having a great time.  At one point the bar staff appeared bearing trays of fizz (more free drinks on Fred!), and the ship’s photographer came round to capture spontaneous photos of people in their formal/tartan wear along with their daft hats and glow-in-the-dark necklaces.

At 23:55 hours, Trevor and I went up to the deck above the Lido Lounge (Deck 8) where Ruth, Mike and a few others in kilts were waiting for the big countdown.  Soon the band leader bellowed into the microphone “Ten… nine… eight…seven… six… five… four… three… two… one… Happy New Year!” as 2018 became 2019.  Then Ruth struck up with Auld Lang Syne played on her bagpipes and everyone joined in with the familiar “Shud auld acquaintance be forgot, and never brought to mind…” and all that.

It was now 1 January 2019.  Trevor and I went back downstairs and re-joined Dave and Julie and had another couple of drinks.  We were glad we were under shelter because, about 30 minutes later, the heavens opened and there was a torrential downpour, sending everyone on deck running for cover.  Talk about raining on one’s parade!  We decided it was as good a time as any to return to our suite just after 1.00am.  As Frank Sinatra declared “What a swell party” it was.  We went to bed and were asleep almost immediately.

Tomorrow we’d spend the first day of the year in Praslin Island, Seychelles.

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