Tuesday, April 08, 2008

The Day The Bus Tickets Came

The bus tickets arrived this weekend ... and so did the ship. The ship was P&O's latest super-liner, Ventura, which arrived for the first time in its' home port, Southampton, on Sunday. The bus tickets were for the coach which will take us down to Southampton for our cruise aboard the Ventura in July.

Being the veteran of some half-dozen memorable cruising holidays, I have learnt to appreciate the lead-up to the holiday, almost as much as the holiday itself. Each stage has its own delights and its own opportunities for those focused day-dreams which get us all through many a cold, grey British day. Whether it is browsing the brochures and mind-hopping between exotic locations, or studying the list of excursions with scholastic intensity, each phase in the planning process has the ability to carry you through endless weeks of rain and sleet. The arrival of the coach tickets always tends to be a watershed moment : hazy fantasies suddenly turn into energetic preparations: you spend a little less time imagining the warmth of the sun on your face and a little more time searching for that new dress shirt you promised yourself.

The day after the coach tickets dropped through the letter-box the ship itself arrived in British waters. Ventura is the largest cruise ship ever built for Britain and, last Sunday, she sailed into Southampton, fresh from the Fincantieri Shipyard in Monfalcone, Italy, where she had been built. I did consider travelling down to Southampton to watch her arrive, but other things got in the way so I turned to You-Tube in the hope that someone else might have filmed the event. As expected, by Monday morning there were a range of short amateur films available, but as with most You-Tube offerings there was not enough emphasis on the short and too much emphasis on the amateur. The best of the bunch is this short from Stratticaster.



In just a few months we shall be on board. But before that we have all the pleasures of preparation awaiting us. As I look outside my window on this April morning, it is still making half-hearted attempts to snow. But my mind is hundreds of miles away watching those Mediterranean waves wash by.

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