Across the Nordic Sea

Company

There I was. On a boat. The day ahead was a sea day. We had to cross the Nordic Sea to reach Copenhagen the next day. So, as there were no new lands to explore this day, we shall dive into the topic of entertainment on boats.

While, in the early days of seafaring, passengers were entertained by keelhauling and the occasional case of scurvy, today's audiences demand higher standards. Quite rightfully I should say. Cunard, the owning company of the Queen Victoria, attempts to meet these demands with a potpourri of lectures, entertainment and activities, some of which could even be misconstrued as sport.

But as the target audience of this ship way past its midlife crisis, most of the events organized on board are not necessarily suited for younger adults. For this first sea day for example there was a Beginners Bridge Class at 9.30am, a Fabergé Lecture at 10.00am or Secrets to a Flatter Stomach at 11.00am. The task laid out for me this day was not to get bored. I think I actually succeeded.

Admittedly I didn't do it alone. The day's programme also included a so-called Young Adult Get-Together, a meeting of the 18-to-30-year-olds that takes places on the first sea day of each cruise. I became acquainted to fellow cruisers from Great Britain, Oman and ... well, mostly Great Britain. Birmingham, Manchester and Winchester to be precise. As it turned out, some of the British gentlemen and -women revealed themselves as quiz aficionados. I like to count myself among those. So we arranged to meet again at the Wipeout Trivia at 3.15 pm.

Tour Escort Training

But before that, I had another appointment, which requires some explanations. On every cruise and in every port of call the Queen Victoria offers a series of excursions. These are optional and can be booked individually. Each tour has a guide and optionally an escort, whose task is to check the quality of the tour. Normally the tour escorts are crew members, but it's also possible for their family members to get on tours as escort. Of course you have the same tasks and the same forms to fill out and you have to speak English reasonably well. And I probably should point out that, if you can join a tour as escort, you don't have to pay for it.

To be allowed as escort I had to participate in a short training session, were the forms and the rules of conduct were explained. At the end I got a lovely certificate which I will use in every job application from now on.

After attending this enthralling lecture, trivia in the Golden Lion Pub was waiting for me. We didn't win but I could impress with my intimate knowledge of useless stuff, in this case Olympic Games host cities.

Afternoon Tea

Then began the more formal part of the day. As this is an English ship after all, I was in for my very first afternoon tea. What a fascinating ritual. In the Queens Room we were seated in comfy chairs and beleaguered by waiters. The first one offered tea (duh!). The next one would bring scones, of which I never heard before and which turned out to be some kind of extra sweet bread rolls where you put jam on. Then there were sandwiches, the stereotypical ones with sliced cucumber, as well as others with meat or salmon cream or whatever. Finally all kinds of cakes and pastries. Basically you could easily survive on the ship and most likely actually gain weight just by attending the afternoon tea every day.

Captain's Reception

The time between afternoon tea and dinner was filled the captain's reception. Time to slip into formal attire. The reception gives guests the opportunity to have their picture taken, shaking hands with the caption, and to indulge in pointless small talk with some of the ships officers. Because I was quite certain the fate of this cruise wouldn't depend on the captain and me meeting eachother, I skipped the picture-taking part (and with that also the queue of people waiting for their hand-shaking turn) and entered the room with my sister through a back door from the crew area. And with my sister I already had an officer at hand, with whom I'm well-versed in pointless small talk.

Dinner and Theatre

While we were sipping orange juice in the Queens Room, the time for the next meal was already approaching: dinner time. For most cruise guests that's synonymous with Britannia, the main restaurant at the stern of the Queen Victoria. There you are served by waiters and sommeliers and get four-course-meals. In the Britannia you're always eating at the same table in one of two seatings. It's all assigned to you when you move into your cabin at the beginning of the voyage. Of course as I didn't have a cabin I also didn't get a place in the Britannia. I therefore ate at the Lido, were I already had breakfast. That's a more informal buffet on Deck 9 with a great view on the sea and, unsurprisingly, excellent food.

After dinner in Lido I still had a lot of time until we were about to meet again for the late quiz at 11.30 pm. So I went to the Royal Court Theatre. It's located opposite of the Britannia in the bow of the shop. It features different variety shows every day with two shows each evening. They start just in time for the dinner guests of the two different seatings to arrive. So shortly before 8.30 pm and 10.30 pm there's a great migration of people in suits and dresses from stern to bow on decks 2 and 3. This evening they were showing A Stroke of Genius, a sequence of singing and dancing acts which somehow centered around art.

Late Night

When night fell, I abandoned the suit and we met again for the Late Evening Quiz Time. That was when three Scotsmen joined our forces. They showed up in full gear, with kilt, sporran, matching footwear and pints of beer in their hands. Boredom wouldn't stand a chance.

The evening may have ended in the Hemispheres, the shitty-DJ-powered night club/lounge/disco on the top deck of the ship. Most likely. I'm not entirely sure. Anyway, from then it was only one night's sleep till we would arrive at the first port: Copenhagen.

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Queen Victoria's route across the Nordic Sea on the 2nd August.

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