Monday, August 13, 2007

The final stage... cruising out with a bang!

So it’s our last day and night onboard the Discovery and we’ve got a busy schedule. We are going to sail down the Kiel Canal and experience a couple of locks in a cruise ship, which should be an unusual experience. We’ve still got to pack, hmmm that might be a challenge. There are the last few rays of sun to be caught and then we’ll have to say farewell to everyone and our home for the past two weeks. There’s an announcement over the tannoy to inform us that later they’ll be an exhibition of the art we’ve been creating whilst at sea, now that’s an alarming thought! But to distract us from that frightful notion we watch Martin, the shy expert carver, whip up a large ice swan to adorn the captain’s table later.

Normally he would wrap himself up in a big padded jacket head for the ice store below decks and chip away there. Performing this feat on deck in the baking sun meant that he has to work extremely speedily to ensure his creation did not melt into a large pool before he was finished. Martin is rather talented in this area; I also spotted more of his handiwork garnishing the salad table in the Lido. This was his decorative take on a water melon.

One of the final events of the afternoon was a Brain's Trust with a panel of experts from the cruise debating thought provoking questions about influential historical figures, politics, etiquette and morals. There were differing opinions, controversial responses and much food for thought. I'm glad we managed to squeeze in the completely packed show lounge to participate.

There are several things we haven't experienced yet on the ship and one apparent lack is a viewing of one of the nightly shows. We've been in the show lounge many times especially as we congregate there for the excursions but R (aka K) and T have had front row seats every night and assure us that it's a must see ( otherwise known as a scream!) And granted it is the last night so we really should out with a bang we agree to accompany them.

We join them in the bar before dinner and our evening started with a Kir Imperial, then we head down for the last supper as it were.

I decide to forgo a starter as I certainly don’t fancy the vine ripened tomatoes, shrimp cocktail or mixed salad so it’s straight to Chicken Consommé with Pan Cake Strips. My main was the Game Casserole with a Rich Red Wine, Mushrooms, Thyme and Bacon Sauce with Braised Leeks, Roasted Vegetables and Herb Champ.

And the dessert was an “Australian” Pavlova with Chantilly Cream and Wild Berries.

After wine and farewells with P and C over dinner and then another glass or Kir Imperial, I think you can guess how this goes!

M wants to grab some air after dinner so the show starts without her. When she arrives in the show lounge I'm anxious that she won't be able to locate us in the gloom. Fuelled by a few pink drinks I have a brilliant idea that I should walk over to her and lead her back to our ringside seats. This idea may seem practical but actually it was extremely ill conceived! Firstly we were right at the front and there wasn't a raised stage for the performers to strut their stuff on, just a wooden semi circle in front of the audience. I decided to nip across the edge of the performance area and grab M but on the way back no amount of semi crouching could disguise the fact that I was trying to creep back to my seat accompanied by dancing girls in feathers sashaying behind me. Never have I been so conspicuous especially considering I clearly felt that bowing my head slightly would render me utterly invisible. Errr it didn’t!

After the sarcastic ripple of applause had died down for my 'performance' I could slink down in my seat and stare in awe at the real performers. R and T had warned me that the 'best' bit was that only two of the six singers/dancers actually sang but they were all fitted with J-Lo style face microphones. When the chorus were due to sing there lip synched to a click track, which is fair enough. They were clearly employed for their long legs and predilection for stretchy satin and sequins but what we found amusing (and those cold pink drinks could well have fuelled our hilarity) was that one of the blond dancers only mimed occasionally. We couldn't work out if this was an unfortunate forgetfulness when it came to the lyrics or the inability to multitask whilst concentrating on her footwork. But we thought it was very funny, she'd maintain the perfect "tits and teeth" stance and then suddenly part way through the song she'd suddenly start miming. Of course we were incredibly close to the action and could easily have joined in (again!) should the mood have taken us so we were able to spot everything. Whose trouser zip was no longer doing its job, who was completely out of step with the other dancers and as a finale, how faked was the tap-dancing. This was our favourite - an upbeat number with a few bursts of frenetic tap dancing but Fred Astaire or Gene Kelly weren't available so the click track played the sound of the tap dancing and the dancers just shuffled their feet. I hope I haven't thrown daylight onto magic? A few rows back may have had a difference experience but I thought it was sweet, surreal and probably way funnier than they'd ever intended. A splendid finale for our fortnight, possibly for the wrong reasons but I don't think they can have you for that.
There was one more corner of the ship we hadn't visited which was the Hideaway Bar. On previous trips it had been a nightclub (ascertained by sneaking a peek behind the new sign) but I could guess it wouldn't be frequented much on this sort of cruise. This tiny bar housed a couple of one armed bandits next to the former dance floor and seemed to be the place where all the staff hung out. Another entirely unnecessary but very enjoyable pink drink and then we really had to tackle the packing. On returning to our cabin we found that whilst we were out a note asking us to leave our fully loaded luggage outside our cabins for midnight. Whoops, it was already way after midnight and it was going to take a considerable effort to sort everything out. However somehow it all got done and we collapsed for our final night. Only one more Oscar's omelette to go!

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