We are sailing on the Riviera, one of the luxury ships owned by Oceania. It has been in Italian docks for several weeks being refurbished. We have been promised new furniture throughout, new carpets, new floor and wall coverings plus completely new bathrooms. We are excited to see it. At first sight everything looks beautiful. At second sight not so much. It was clearly done in a rush. The wallpaper in the corridors is wrinkled
and already peeling at the edges
One of the outdoor showers has the shower handle missing, another has the liquid soap holder broken and the container lying broken on the floor.
The furniture in our suite has the remnants of packing tape still stuck to it, clothes hooks in the closet fall off when used, the veranda door frame has streaks of white on it as does the veranda walls, the bathroom nightlight doesn’t work.
Even the orchid in our suite has seen better days
But this is Christmas and nothing is going to spoil the celebrations the crew has laid on.
The central lobby is decorated to the hilt. The grand staircase full of Lalique glass looks fabulous, as do four of the guests
I told you the Fabulosity Meter would be back!
We have managed to snag a reservation at the Jacques Pepin restaurant for the 6 of us traveling together on Christmas Eve. Unbeknownst to us, Jacques Pepin is actually on board and is dining two tables away with his daughter, son in law and grand daughter. At the end of the meal we go and introduce ourselves. He is absolutely charming and introduces us to all his family. The Fabulosity Meter is still going strong.
The next day Santa arrives. The tiny tots are delighted, gazing up at him in awe,
but they take some persuading to sit on his knee
The larger tots gaze down at him
and decide not to sit on his knee for fear of causing him bodily harm
Remarkably he knows each child’s name and has a present for every one.
He has no idea who I am and has no present for me
However when we return to our cabin we find an enormous parcel sitting on our bed.
Gordon, who is a serious chocoholic, is convinced it is the biggest box of chocolates he has ever seen and is beside himself with excitement .
However, when he rips it open. Not so excited!
Meanwhile we have met a delightful couple on board. She reminds me of an old fashioned chintz living room, over padded and over embellished, but comfortable and welcoming. Her bright red sweater is covered in Christmas pins and ornaments, her hair dyed blonde supports a tiny Christmas hat in the shape of a Christmas tree. A string of colored lights hang around her neck. It is all too much, but all good fun. As is she.
Her husband has more wrinkles and folds than a sharpei, but they look at each with love in their eyes. They are in their eighties have been together for 62 years. They are as excited about meeting Santa as the tiny tots are. She is delighted we are there. There is a glow of happiness radiating from them
She tells us they have so much to be thankful for.
“We wake up each morning” she says “which is always a good sign”
“We look at each other and we recognise each other.”
“We even remember our names”
“And we can get out of bed without help”
“At our age, it doesn’t get any better than that”
She shrieks with laughter, gives us a big hug and then goes off to meet Santa.
What a wonderful Christmas !