Two years ago a friend of Sam's - someone who lived down the road when he was a boy and contacted him via a mutual interest in Harwich where they were born - went on a pretty much identical cruise around the world. She and her friend who live not far from Bournemouth, boarded Oriana at Southampton and set sail across the Bay of Biscay. They had a fabulous time on their cruise and offered to help us out when they learned about our intended trip.
A long phone call gave us information on how to deal with cash in different countries, advised us about inoculations, some general safety tips, how to haggle with taxi drivers, which excursions are worthwhile and generally what to expect about life on board. Oh and how to avoid the queues for getting on and off the ship.
Today we received a big brown envelope containing details about the excursions they went on in Mumbai and Cochin - two places that Hilary is desperate to see - also included was one of the Oriana menus with mouth watering dishes and a day sheet for one of the days of their cruise. The menu clearly indicated several vegetarian and fish dishes so that is one problem we don't have to worry about, incidentally we have already spoken to P&O about soya milk for Hilary and they have confirmed that she will have plenty of supplies on board.
We were staggered to see the detail that is available every day for those on board - Watercolour painting lessons, Ballroom Dancing lessons, Bridge and Whist competitions and lessons, entertainment galore, talks on finance, history of the next destination, sporting competitions in fact so much that for sure we will not be bored. Quite the reverse, it will be hard to decide what not to do rather than which activity to do next. We thought that it would be a lot of lazing by the pool reading books, but I don't think we will have much time for that!
Sam's friend Margaret and her friend George apparently used to plan their activities the night before and then decide when and where they would have time to meet each other the following day. No moping around in deckchairs for them.... maybe that is what we will have to do.
As the boarding date gets ever closer we are getting more excited, a little concerned about the possble onset of sea-sickness in the early part of the journey, but we are growing ever more confident that this was a good decision to throw caution to the winds and go off on the trip of a lifetime. It may not be as adventurous as Jess going to China, or of Hayley, Emily and Beccy going to the Far East on little more than pocket money, but for two old fogeys who rarely venture into non-English speaking countries it is big step!