So all good things come to an end, and it's time to go home... Depending on where you've been, you will probably have one or two sea days to get back to Blighty, but your holiday isn't over yet!
The activities, shows etc don't wind down, you will be entertained right up until the last night.You can make the most of the opportunities to book up another cruise in the Holiday Shop, choose your photos and maybe do a few final bits of shopping. If you're lucky you can snatch a bit more sunshine on deck.
The disembarkation process is as easy as embarking. You pack most of your luggage the day before you dock, put it outside your cabin to be collected in the evening/ overnight, just leaving you with your hand luggage. The last night is always a casual night so you don't have to worry about having to put your posh frock in your holdall!
With so many passengers, disembarkation has to be highly organised, and the bars and restaurants are used as disembarkation points. Your detailed instructions of where you need to be and at what time are in the daily paper the day before. Overnight the final on-board bill is put under your cabin door which is deducted automatically.
Never fear, there is plenty of time for that last breakfast, then it's off to your designated area where you wait to be called to disembark...
The route takes you through customs, into the luggage collection hall and away you go to the car park to collect your keys. It is very straightforward, and because passengers get called off the boat in stages it's not the pandemonium you may expect, and there are plenty of staff around to point you in the right direction.
Just a word of warning, for many people, one cruise is never enough. We thought we'd just try it, we've just done our third and got two more booked up!
And finally, some FAQ's
Are ships sterling or the local currency?
Ships are completely cashless. Upon embarking, you are asked to register a credit / debit card for your on-board spending. You are then given your cabin key, which is a similar shape and size to a bank card. This is for getting on and off the ship, your key and for all purchases.
Supposing I'm ill?
Ships have fully equipped medical centres, and have doctors and nurses on duty at all times. There is a charge, this would be covered by your travel insurance which is compulsory.
But what about seasickness?
I was a bit apprehensive, I'm not a good sailor on ferries or small boats and I was armed with plenty of anti-emetics for the first holiday. However ships are remarkably smooth. Most of the time you forget you're at sea, and quickly get used to the slight vibration. Occasionally you may feel a minor lurch, and you may notice that your wine is trembling a bit, but that's about it.
We've been very fortunate to have mainly sailed in good weather, however one night the Captain warned us that we were going to enter the tail end of a major storm, so it could be a choppy night.
That evening we were in our favourite bar, which was at the front of the ship, at the top. It got rather rocky (in my opinion). The waiters were carrying on as normal, but some passengers were finding it a bit difficult to walk in a straight line. Some passengers were just carrying on laughing and chatting, the pianist was still playing but I felt most peculiar.Some people were leaving, including us, although Kevin was absolutely fine.Our cabin was mid-ship, the best place to be in choppy weather, and after returning there, sitting up in bed and keeping my eyes closed I quickly felt OK. The next day however I heard that some passengers had needed treatment from the medical centre.
So my answer is that the effects of choppy weather are very much down to the individual. If you're unsure, my advice would be to go on a short cruise, take remedies with you, and try and get a mid-ship cabin.
Pros & cons please!
You probably get the idea that I think cruises are fab, and I do! However there are just a few drawbacks...
It's great visiting lots of ports, and going somewhere different everyday. However we find though, that most visits leave us wanting more. For example we had a marvellous day in Rome, but would have loved to have gone back the next day. We were fascinated by Monaco but there just wasn't the time to wander around after our excursion ended. If you want to travel inland, it could be a lengthy journey just to spend a few hours in your chosen destination.
Passengers generally have the opportunity to have lunch or a snack when they are out and about, but as Kevin and I keep on the move to make the most of our visit, we make do with an ice cream or a sandwich, but we miss out on sampling the local cuisine. Sometimes I think it would be nice to go somewhere for a week and just come and go as we pleased without time restraints.
Extra pros for me though is not having to worry about the weight of your luggage, not getting caught up in airport delays, and not having to drive. Can't have it all though can we?!