Am I now advertising?

Food First published 28 May 2019

I have a break from travel and a chance to put keyboard to thoughts. 

Travel broadens the mind but not as quickly as the waistline. My undisciplined brain is assembling some disjointed thoughts and what follows may finish a long way from the direction of my first thought.

First, Seabourn. It promises everyone luxury which it delivers in a manner requiring no effort from the guests. We, the guests, all pay. Some pay considerably more than we did and this was a minor concern to one of our “friends for the day” Ellen, she  moved her business from other carriers expecting that for her money she would be receiving more than (possibly she meant me) for her dollar than others because she paid for a luxury suite. She was disappointed to learn all suites are basically the same. Some may have more expensive cosmetics but the layout is the same except for those in the “Wintergarden,” or “The Owners suite”. These people get additional space, a private table able to seat up to 12 guests and a separate entrance for staff. Basically it is a one class ship where everyone is treated equally. We were all spoilt according to our individual requests. No problem for me but it seems hard to overlook for others.   We were able to order caviar any time day or night, we ordered it quite often, it came as a snack with some shaved bread, sour cream, grated hard boiled egg and onion.

My earlier description of it being a floating retirement home on the sea is not far from the truth. As one day floated into another it would have been possible to become institutionalised.  And many have because as almost a daily conversation starter we were asked, Where are you taking your next cruise to? Many of the guests exercise the option of saving 5% on their next voyage booking while on board forgetting their next trip will be priced at a premium to any discount offered to late arrivals. Not that is seeming  a worry to the regular passenger. They start booking from “anchors aboard” to “anchors aweigh.”

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The truly wealthy do not cruise in a ship owned by someone else. They invite unpaying guests of their own aboard their own vessel.. As far as I can see, from this lovely little Island in Greece, Hydra, this has its own problems. We have seen some magnificent floating castles. Yet can you imagine the pain when your fully staffed immaculate vessel is docked beside an even grander one?  More staff, more decks, more staterooms more size etc. it must be hell to realise your dream is insignificant beside this one, and worse when alongside an even grander sparkling yacht only ever sailed in by the owner when the sun never wanes and sunsets are awesome. Such is the lot of the unseeing uncaring 0.01%.

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On Seabourn if you book in advance you can book a table at the fussy Thomas Keller dining room. Seats are limited to around 50. We booked. We were underwhelmed. I haven’t looked him up but Thomas Keller is an American food genius apparently. The service was diligent. The table superb. Each evening had a new offering And a list of favourites. These are what most Americans chose. Hamburgers, Barbecued Spare Ribs, New York Steak but the most favourite is, you must wait for it. Are you ready?  Are you sure?  Hang on it’s coming. The favourite is Cheese on Macaroni. Throughout the ship the coffee is best left unspoken. The most favourite desert is a different flavoured soufflé every evening. This is broken by the waiter and into the broken crust the waiter pours a watery custard. Delicious. Or so most patrons agree.

It is appalling I am making fun of a man recognised as a master chef. I promise to stop. The food aboard was excessive unless your capacity to say no was firm. Drink of all kind was never restricted. Though the wine varied.  it is is vin ordinary unless one is prepared to pay excessively for Grand Cru. No limit was placed on anyone, unlike Oliver Twist asking for more. If you wanted more you got more.

Late evening was  very very relaxing. Our only complaint is that I liked to breakfast without hordes of others and needed to be there before them and that meant going to bed while others partied. This self imposed discipline meant Jennie became more and more tired each day as she refused to catnap during the day. I publicly apologise for my thoughtfulness.

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Here on Hydra I have come to appreciate good food is simple. It is wholesome. It is all we need. The health benefits are written elsewhere. Experts like nephew, Sam Nicholson can advise you on what is best. No sugar. no salt, etc. Mediterranean diet etc. Exercise etc. Rest etc.

If you insist on cruising, (I hope you get a chance), remember to heed the advice of those like my mother who said, “Your eyes are bigger than your stomach”. And stop being tempted by food you don’t need. Today I am an example of all one should not do. I am going ho

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