FOUR OF NINE – ESCAPE ROOM

Food is still being served by staff in the bistro, salt dispensers have been replaced by sachets, and the hot tubs are closed. Still nothing to worry about – I’d say no more than defcon 3 – although fully-bio-suited and face-masked waiters taking trays of food to a small number of cabins doesn’t inspire confidence.

Despite containment measures clearly having been put in place, I’m pleased to say that my class remains unaffected (closure of the craft room would be defcon 1), and that I had a full contingent once again. With yet another full-to-bursting room of 50 people, We’re using every backup brush and pencil that we can get our hands on, while watching the watercolour paper pile rapidly diminish, and with our fingers firmly crossed behind our backs, hoping that we might be able to stock up on paper in French Polinesia.

With numbers looking like they are not going to be dwindling any time soon, the session on ‘White Water’ seemed to go down very well. I have to say that it is a very receptive, and friendly group.

After lunch (Minestrone soup – twice – and a hot dog from the outdoor grill), we walked laps of the top deck, enjoying the fresh air and the breeze.

There have been a lot of fishing boats out today (Sue Walsh reckoned she had counted 19 visible from where she was standing on deck at on point), so clearly there must be rich pickings in this area. At one point, we also saw a massive pod of dolphins – perhaps a couple of hundred or so, all in the same area; not moving in any direction, but leaping and splashing in a relatively small, contained area. We figure they must have been feeding – it was certainly spectacular to see, and a pleasant change from the lack of wildlife so far.

This afternoon, we took part in an ‘Escape Room’.

Over the last couple of weeks, Lee, the Assistant Cruise Director, has invited teams of six to register their interest in taking part. Although the general stipulation has been for teams not to consist of any couples, he agreed that myself, Tracey, Chris (Creative Writing tutor), Carol, lecturer Paul and his wife, should be allowed to take part – just for a bit of fun really, since whatever the prize is, our team wouldn’t be allowd to claim it.

We were all met by DJ Brad in the Hampton Lounge before being led upstairs to one of the larger cabins on the ship. The cabin was in darkness. Before being allowed in, we were given a few short instructions; we were told that we didn’t need to ransack the place, not to touch anything on the bed, and that there would be no clues either under the bed or on the balcony. We would have 30 minutes to find the clues that would allow us to escape, or meet our doom. We would be allowed to ask for only one clue during that time.

Inside the room, all was dark except for a timer projected onto the wall from the bed, that told us we had 30 minutes to solve the puzzle… and then we were off…

The first thing we did was to switch the light on and take in our surroundings. A large world map was stuck to the wall and there was short a message on the TV screen. Further investigation of drawers and cupboards revealed fridge magnets from around the world and attached to a few discreet places around the cabin we started to discover small pieces of paper with coloured numbers on them. A Lonely Planet world guide had small coloured bookmarks in several pages, and it didn’t take long for us to determine that if we could find all the six coloured numbers, placing them in the correct order would provide us with the combination for the cabin safe.

How we arrived at that, I’m not entirely sure. We weren’t very co-ordinated, and certainly not working like much of a team, yet somehow, we managed to find all the numbers (the final one we found was stuck to the underside of the toilet seat). Fiddling with the remote control on the TV gave us a second message telling us that we would need to place the numbers, their colours corresponding to pages in the Lonely Planet guide, in a North to South order. Opening the safe provided us with a key laid in a box lid, which allowed us to unlock a cupboard. In the cupboard was a blue, infra-red penlight. The final piece of the puzzle was revealed by turning off all the lights again and shining the penlight around the room, until it eventually revealed a message on the box lid that had been in the safe with the key, which simply told us to ring 7070 to escape.

Lee congratulated us on having been one of the quicker groups to crack it, which we did with just over 8 minutes to spare. It was fun!

In the evening, the fishing boats were still visible, due to some very bright lights they all seemed to have. An announcement from Tony the Cruise Director informed us that the boats were all chinese, fishing for calamari (squid), and that the bright lights lured them up to the surface.