My sister and I met last night to discuss The Cruise (only 14 days and counting ’til departure). We ran through all the important stuff like which alcohol package to choose, what wineries to visit and whether to swim with stingrays. My mother rang in a tizz, worried the stingray swim was already booked out. There’s a “see your onboard activities advisor” note next to it on the website. Not that my mother was contemplating a stingray swim. And just thinking about being touched by one of those big, flappy things makes me shudder. But Sprog 1 is gagging to do it. So my mother was having a fret on her behalf. (And I wonder where I get it from?) Sister and I spent a happy hour sussing shore excursions and reminiscing about our last cruise together. It was 20 years ago. I was working for Studio Brides magazine and scored a free trip around the Pacific in exchange for a travel story. I’d just broken up with my boyfriend and was in the mood to get messy. Which I did, around 16 hours a day, every day, with occasional naps between. So I don’t remember much about the cruise, other than discovering scotch and Coke, pushing open a heavy exterior door with my shoulder and realising it was covered in vomit, Noumea being expensive and dull, unwittingly eating dog curry in Fiji (the strange little bones gave it away) and my hands shaking from alcohol abuse. Oh, and failing to attract the eye of any handsome, young gentlemen on board. It may have had something to do with wearing strange palm-frond hats (see above). My sister, on the other hand, was much admired by a group of handsome Brissie lads who’d boarded the ship with vast quantities of duty-free scotch and bacardi. We spent most of the trip with their liquor, me gazing at them while they gazed at my sister. Looking at the old photos revealed other things I apparently did on the cruise, all erased along with my brain cells: drinking filthy (literally) kava, eating my first bombe alaska, the pool being spa-bath sized, video cameras being spa-bath sized, one of the Brissie boy’s disturbing ability to turn his eyelids inside out, an inevitable cross-dressing night (the Brissie boys came prepared with matching red mini-skirts and wigs, what is it with men and an excuse to wear lipstick?), a tower of champagne glasses where the liquid on every level was a different colour (green, red, yellow …. so clarsy). Oh, and meeting some desperate party animals in one of the ports, who begged to swap cabins with us. They’d booked a more expensive cruise, filled with geriatrics and empty bars. They were desperate to be on our fun ship. It occurred to me, I’ll be on the geriatric cruise this time. Fingers crossed. Because I’m old now. And there’s no way I’d want to share a ship with anyone resembling my insecure, noisy, stumbling younger self. They’d annoy the absolute crap out of me.