The Blog Master is keeping me up to the mark and insisting I write this blog despite the fact that I am thousands of kilometres away from home and sailing the wide blue oceans on a cruise ship.
As I write this, we are sailing through the Red Sea, heading towards the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean having already seen some amazing sights, but with more sea days than ports so far (I won’t bore you with the details – you can see the photos on my Facebook page if you’d like to know more). Then we will head to the Baltic for the non-stop port after port stopovers with few at sea days. The two-day visit to St Petersburg will be the highlight of that section. No one can say there isn’t variety on offer.
On board, the daily list of activities while at sea covers two pages. You can start the day easy with breakfast in your room, or hit the deck running with zumba or at the gym, followed by quizzes to get your brain into action. A few hands of bridge or other card games will take you through to morning tea and then it’s lecture time with varied topics covering everything from Ancient Greece, historical figures, and opera through to space and the stars, in addition to the port lectures. After lunch, the pools are inviting, the movies enticing and there are endless deck games to enjoy, as well as dancing lessons and music to listen to or sport to watch if you prefer - and don’t forget the shopping. After dinner there are live stage shows, late night movies and more music and dancing - but one of the most popular activities on board is reading. One you have to make time for amongst everything else on offer.
The library is a comfortable room lined with bevelled glass-paned doors behind which lurk books for every taste and genre: non-fiction, fiction, hard-backs, paperbacks, foreign language, atlases, magazines and music. The leather armchairs with their matching footstools are always in use and the shelves are more often empty than full. People hover around the returns cupboard when a staff member opens the door, hoping to find the next adventure to delve into.
I donated three of my books – The Cornish Knot, The Art of Secrets and The Girl from County Clare - to the library and I haven’t seen them since. They must be somewhere on the ship but they’ve certainly never made it back onto the shelf. I know there are people waiting to read them, but how they are going to find them I have no idea. It’s a fluid system, without a regular librarian to assist.
Everywhere you go – past the loungers in the shade on the Promenade Deck, along the rows of sun loungers up by the pools, and in the many indoor lounges, people are reading books. It’s a heart-warming sight.
Yes, people are reading – and most of them are books: real books. But look closely and many of the iPads and mini-iPads have books on display, and e-readers rest in other hands. Despite the staff working very hard to make sure there isn’t a minute of our day without something to do, when R&R is needed books are the tonic.
Take heart, fellow authors and keep writing – there is a future for us, even if only on cruise ships. Have you counted how many of those there are in the world and how many thousands of people travel on each one? The opportunity is limitless.