Oh Ship!

Holy Palazzo Batman!

We’ve been Lording it up in Venice in the most ridiculously oversized and indulgent hotel suite in the history of oversized and indulgent hotel suites. We’re talking a palace. Literally! The main room of our suite (yep, there’s more than one) is bigger than our entire flat, with a two story ceiling boasting OTT Venetian Glass chandeliers the size of a car. Deep red silk walls, a marble bathroom the size of the average football field and two story windows with billowing silk drapes opening dramatically to not one but two balconies overlooking the Grand Canal certainly don’t detract from the glamour.

Am I boasting? Hell yeah! I’m poking out my tongue and singing “ner nee ner” as I type. This is the kind of room Venetian fantasies are made of. The bed is so bloody big that all four of us sleep together and can still stretch out with a full arms length between each other – it’s twice the size of the average king-size bed back home.

And it is here that my boasting concludes and I drop my eyes shamefaced, because nomatter how fab this bank breaker of a hotel suite is, there is no room for living it up for a couple sharing their bed with two small, snuffling, squirming, sweaty, farty Devilchildren, who need to be asleep before 8pm.  Instead of falling into each others arms swept up in the romance of it all we sneak out on to our little balcony and sit on the concrete step in our fluffy robes with a bottle of cheap Prosecco and plastic tumblers and watch the child free world go about its business.

Sigh!  Il romanticismo è morto.

Though Venice is an adult kind of town  bursting with museums, art galleries and glass stores (think bulls and china shops with the all-dancing, all-hypo Devilboy in tow) and a tad bereft of kids’ activities, there is still loads to keep a pint sized nut-job amused.  If gondola rides, gelati and granitas don’t cut it, then pizza, palazzos and pigeon chasing in the piazza certainly are. Devilboy spends the days wrapped up in the magic of his own lunatic head convinced he is Prince Charming. When he isn’t swanning about on the watery world of the Venetian canals, he is lording it up on the imaginary horse he rides up and down the narrow lanes, clip-clopping all the way – looking and sounding all the world like a scale version Monty Python movie.

As fab as Venice is, it is in this instance just a means to a holiday end. We’re here for our first ever cruise and our eccentric offspring  is beside himself before we even see our ship as a spy movie sexy wooden speed boat taxis us up the Grand Canal to the port. As are we at the surreal site of the little loon striking a dramatic pose on said speedboat dressed in an ensemble of tropical sunhat, hawaiian shirt, camo shorts and a mysterious feathery Venetian mask that he acquired at a market stall in the piazza. He looks more than a little like the showgirl love child of Hunter S. Thomson and Zorro.  The exotic outfit doesn’t however amuse the customs officials at the port who need to see his face to stamp his passport. Convincing a deranged Devilboy of the necessity to do this proves problematic and a public meltdown of biblical proportion ensues! After several years of screaming he final yields to the demands to demask, gets his passport stamped and we finally find ourselves face to bow with our ship

Fuck me!

“It’s benourmous” whispers Devilboy who, stunned by its gargantuan scale, has invented a new word “ ‘Cos it’s much bigger than enormous, mummy.” And he is right. It. Is. Fucking. Huge.

And, if I am being totally honest, it’s made me a little nervous! A cruise!  A giant cruise, but a cruise nonetheless. I mean, that’s my grandparents idea of travelling! We’re going to be trapped at sea with old fogeys, bingo and buffets! I’m having visions of a giant floating RSL club. In a blind panic I am desperate to return to our swanky, wanky Venetian pad… instead of my imagined pastel purgatory!

Barely an hour later I’ve had a complete about face. There is no denying that visually, when compared to our luxe Venetian Palazzo, the ship is designed to appeal to the masses. And that does mean a serious lack of velvet drapes, dark silk walls and antique furniture…  But, after exploring deck after deck of this floating city, I am a total convert. If I poke out my retinas this place rocks! There’s a day spa, multi-story theatre, endless dining options, a zillion bars all serving prefectly good alcohol, three pools, a groovy water slide and umpteen spas…  and not a quoits set in sight. Best of all, there’s a big fat comfy bed to sleep in when we are in transit… which beats the crap out of flying anyday!

Every morning we step out on to our cabin balcony to be met with a different view. We visit Koper,  Slovenia and, like every dumbass Western tourist before us, spend our day singing Barry Manilow tunes as we explore the old town. In Italy’s Ravenna, I prostrate myself at my beloved Dante’s tomb – love your work fella! In Bari we visit the pretty Apulian countryside with its quirky conical white-washed trulli homes or “fairy houses” as Devilboy delightfully dubs them before purchasing a plastic sword to bludgeon his way back aboard the ship (and another run in with customs who take umbrage at his toy sword) Get a grip guys! This kid is drawing more damned attention than the average criminal mastermind. I swear by the end of this trip he’ll be on Interpol’s “most wanted” list.

Then it’s off to Croatia and fabulous Dubrovnik where we find ourselves sailing on an old wooden “pirate” ship to the fortified walls of the old town. Much to Devilboy’s delight the captain offers him a feathered pirate hat, fake parrot and a turn at captaining the boat, before promptly disappearing. The other passengers are blissfully unaware they are sailing under the captaincy of a delusional three-year-old pirate who can’t actually see over the wheel while we quietly shit ourselves and wonder where the hell the captain has fucked off to. Luckily we all make it back to the ship intact and ready for a last full day at sea.

Three thousand trips down the waterslide later and we decide it is time to sell our souls to the Gods of mundane entertainment and visit the ice show! Cringe. Don’t get me wrong, there is no questioning the amazing talent on display but it’s just not my thing…  it’s a touch showbizzy for mine. A drink helps. Two makes it relatively painless.  Out of practise with the whole booze caper, a third will probably have me donning some sparkly lycra and skating myself! Devilboy, king of  kitsch, loves it. “Especially the girl with spikes on her head”! Right.

No unpacking, no big changes to routines and bedtime schedules, no endless waiting in airports. Life simply goes on while in transit. What’s not to love… well, besides the lack of velvet drapery.

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