Like pretty much everyone, I saw Leonardo and Kate’s romance blossom on the White Star Line’s Titanic but nothing could prepare me for my own romance on-board the Norwegian Getaway.
I’m not talking about a stolen moment with my husband, I’m talking about a different kind of love story. Recently, I fell in love with cruising, with sailing, with the ocean and more.
I was so excited for my first cruise experience. I was to be one of the privileged few to be invited onto the Norwegian Getaway in its inaugural journey out of Southampton. Even the horrendous journey down from the Lancashire borders hadn’t quelled the twirls in the pit of my stomach, those first butterflies of a new relationship, a first date with ‘the one’. After screeching into the car park (imagine a car chase scene from your favourite cop show and you’re about there), we’d finally made it and there she was.
It was the little things I noticed first. The sun loungers of the balcony suites, the flags coming down from the bridge, the mermaid painted along the bow. Oh she was beautiful. It was love at first sight.
I could imagine how her size would be off-putting for some, but to me it was almost a comfort – I guess I was a little nervous and dare I say, trepidatious about getting on a vessel (the closest I’ve ever been is a ferry to France and Ireland). So then we boarded and wow, as a first-time cruiser, the Getaway really took my breath away. The interiors and the colours seemed almost garish going off the artist impressions but magnificent in real life.
Powerful emotions swept over me as we sailed out of Southampton. As the bright lights of the dock gradually disappeared, I could sense that my life had changed. It sounds corny but my thoughts went back to all the other thousands of people who have ever left the dock with the same feeling and felt overwhelmed to the verge of tears. This was the second ‘moment’ of the trip – a realisation settled over me; this is special.
And so the ‘first date’ began properly. After the early small-talk of a trip to the cabin and safety presentations we got down to the nitty-gritty.
We start by getting to know one another. For us it meant a tour; a no-holds-barred route around all the nooks and crannies, the decks with the pools, outdoor nightclub, kids play areas, the video arcade and the bars on the outside decks. We stole a moment away, the ocean and I. I sneaked away from the group and got some fleeting moments under the moon with the waves crashing against the ship, the wind in my hair and a chill down my neck. As the moon started to disappear behind the January clouds, there was a blackness – a darkness like I’ve never experienced and suddenly the 145,000 tons felt like nothing. I’m not ashamed to say I was scared. We felt small with the globe to explore and the future a blank canvas. Such a romantic view of the world … I shook it off, and continued my exploration.
We dined, laughed and danced the night away, there isn’t a worry to run out of conversation with the Getaway as there is plenty for someone like me to enjoy. But back at my cabin, the feeling got me again: ‘just take a peek’, ‘head out on the balcony’, ‘you know you want to’ … and so I did. I looked out and saw a lighthouse, the steady beam going round and round … the lights of a coastal town and gone was the fear. I thought: ‘This is special and I should savour every last minute of it, because you’ll never get that first trip on a ship back. Just as you’ll never get your first date feeling again’.
So, as I write this, I’m wrapped up warm with the spray in my face (and don’t tell the boss, but a little on the laptop). The January wind’s whipping round my face and through my hair and I can’t help but wonder how soon I can see her again…