Friday 10 October 2014


Disappointment today: there was too much wind and swell for us to use the tenders to get ashore on the Iles de la Madeleine, north of Prince Edward Island. Such a shame, as I was looking forward to a whole day exploring, including doing a bit of hiking – always a good thing to fit into a cruise, what with all that unlimited food and all.

So, as we dawdled on up towards Gaspé, circling tantalisingly close to the islands with their lighthouses, cliffs and little settlements, it was a chance to enjoy instead a leisurely day at sea…

OK, it's now much later, and under the influence of a (complimentary) sparkling wine in the suite, a kir royale at the self-congratulatory gathering of the Venetian Society – ie repeat Silversea voyagers, the record on this cruise being the couple who have notched up a pretty startling 749 nights at sea with the company – a Prosecco to start with at the Terazza restaurant, a very smooth Valpolicello with dinner and a tasty Cadillac sweet wine afterwards, here goes: [by the way – the backspacing and retyping so far? Epic.]

There was no scenery today. Instead, there were two sessions of Trivial Pursuit, which provided today’s alternative theme: how travel broadens the mind.

Now, being in my other life a teacher, I’m accustomed to spending time with people who don’t know stuff – that’s why both they and I are at school. But here, on a Silversea cruise – not a cheap option – I’m in the company of those who are by definition much more successful, financially, than I am; and also, inevitably, in their autumn years. So it could be depressing to be in a random – yet, in the nature of things, self-selecting – team of people who fancy their chances in a test of general knowledge and yet who seem to know pretty much nothing.

To be fair, who does know that the national animal of Canada is the beaver? But other things, like working out sums (if 30 sweets weigh 20g, then in a kilogram there would be 1500), or knowing that the widest river in the world is the Amazon, or that the Falklands war happened in 1982 (thank you, Jeremy Clarkson, for recently reminding me of that), or that George Orwell wrote 1984 – shouldn’t everyone know that sort of stuff? Apparently not. The main frustration of Trivial Pursuit on board ship is that, in the interests of diplomacy, sometimes you have to let people convinced of wrong answers have their way.

But here’s the thing: it’s wrong to judge them for their ignorance. Instead, you should allow that, simply by their presence on the ship, they have proved that they have been successful in their own fields – in which ignorance, for example, of the name of the Easter Island stone heads [moai] has been no impediment. Consider my mind broadened.

And the reward tonight was a concert of Opera-the-tuneful-bits presented by an excellent team of singers, not the least of its pleasures being that, within about four minutes of shaking the hands of the singers, I was in my room and ready for bed. Score!

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