Piraeus and pirates

Last night may not have been the best night for the 18-35 Get Together (with free booze!). I didn’t get to bed till 2 and I’m a bit hungover today. Met a lovely couple, on their honeymoon, Guy and Simon from Eastbourne. Ever so sweet, and Simon shares my love of the Pet Shop Boys, much to Guy’s dismay!

We didn’t have a “To Do” list for Piraeus. We’ve been to both Athens and Piraeus before. We went to Carrefour and M&S, had a cup of coffee in a bar and lunch snacks in another (I didn’t eat anything cos I feel like poop). Then we wandered around the marina for a while looking at the boats. All different sizes, from itty bitty to OMG! Then back to the ship.

I may have hit a new personal best today. I bought two Christmas presents. On January the 12th. Oh yes. Trouble is, I didn’t think to bring the Christmas present book with me, so I can’t note down what I’ve brought for whom. I just hope I can remember when I get back in April!

Walked a mile and a third today. Would have done more but I hurt my knee doing the twist last night and it started to complain. Got to be fit for Egypt tomorrow, so I had to give in. It’s 18 degrees, now, which is very nice indeed. Just right. 24 tomorrow in Cairo, so I’ll have to dig out the sun cream tonight. I wonder if I need mosquito repellent. Can’t remember.

“Dear Passenger

On the 18th of this month we will sail out of the Red Sea and head toward the Indian Ocean. This will involve a transit of the Gulf of Aden [the world’s second hotspot for piracy after the Somali coast].

We have a comprehensive security plan for this transit. As a part of this plan, you should be aware of the following:

The external Promenade deck area of deck seven will be closed on both sides and no passengers or crew will be allowed access for the duration of the transit.

During hours of darkness, only essential open deck lights will be on as it is important to reduce the ship’s external lighting. With this in mind, please turn off your cabin lights and close the curtains of your cabin window or balcony.

In order to familiarize (sic) you with these additional measures there will be a passenger and crew drill at 10am.

In the unlikely event that an incident takes place, the ship’s alarm bells will be sounded followed by a broadcast from the Bridge. Please listen carefully to all the instructions given to you.

Initial action will be as follows:
Go directly to your cabin
If you have a window or balcony you should go into the corridor outside your cabin and sit on either a chair or on the floor.
If you have an inside cabin you should remain inside your cabin.
All passengers will be accounted for by their room steward.

During this time you should not go onto any open decks or near any external windows.

I must emphasise that the safety and the security of every individual on board is my highest priority and the implementation of this procedure is an important part of the ship’s security plan.”

So we have the drill. I have an inside cabin, so I stay in bed! The announcements go on, so eventually I give up and pop my head out into the corridor to see what’s going on.

I hear a woman down the corridor telling her steward in no uncertain terms (I think I can use “imperiously” quite safely here) that she will only turn off the lights on one side of her cabin as she has “checked” and the other light cannot be seen from outside.

Now, firstly “turn off your lights and close your curtains” doesn’t seem like the most invasive and demanding of requests, at least to me. It’s hardly arduous, is it? What’s the big deal in just doing what you’re told?

Secondly, unless you can FLY, you can’t see whether your lights show on deck B. It’s about 90 feet from sea level or about 75 feet from ground level. You just ain’t that tall, love. Even if you could, you can only get outside the ship during daylight hours, so you can’t see what it looks like in the dark.

Thirdly, seriously, just give it a MODICUM of thought. If they can see a light, they can FIRE AT IT. You stupid woman. Seriously. How complex a set of ideas is this, really? They have speedboats, AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. Why would you want to leave a light ON?! This from someone well old enough to have lived through the war and who must surely understand the concept of the blackout. I swear, these people are going to give me an ulcer.

I went to reception and told them what I had heard, because she could well endanger us all, after all, and the girl I spoke to thanked me for telling her, but she wasn’t surprised. She said that I would be amazed at some of the complaints she had received, particularly that there wasn’t enough seating in the corridor during the drill. It’s a drill. In a corridor.

It is important to remember at all times that it doesn’t require any amount of intelligence whatsoever to have the money to go on a cruise. Repeat after me…any idiot can afford a cruise, any idiot can afford a cruise, any idiot…

Just to be clear, don’t worry, I’m pretty sure we are armed to the teeth (although they would never come out and say so) and we saw them testing the water cannons yesterday. I’m not that worried. It does happen, but they have a system in place. Spare your thoughts instead for the inhabitants of Haiti instead. Their need is greater than anyone else’s. 7.0 is a big quake. The scale only goes to 8, doesn’t it?

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