Thursday – Emergency Drill and The Spider

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At 4pm, all passengers were obliged to attend the emergency drill… an important event at the start of every cruise – a legal requirement in fact; it’s a genuine real-time simulation designed to ingrain in everybody’s minds what they should do in the event of a tragedy occuring. Crucially, it shows people where they should gather (known as their ‘Muster Station’), and how to put on their lifejackets correctly.


This is the first ship I’ve been on where, having gathered everybody together, they proceed to undertake an evacuation, with everybody leading out in single file – conga-style – to  open decks, to meet their very own lifeboat (if I remember rightly, it didn’t happen last year on account of the horrendous weather). It’s all slightly tedious, but necessary… as a simulation, I often think it would be greatly improved if there was a bit more panic involved, with staff running past, sweating and screaming that we’re all going to die, and the ship made to rock a bit….


This evening, over dinner, there was an informal get-together of the lecturers and tutors who did the same cruise last year, which was nice… like one big happy family, actually. There’s a more formal meeting tomorrow afternoon, when we’ll be bashing out the timetable for the next few weeks.


Tonight, we’ve been asked to put our clocks forward by one hour, and tomorrow we’ll be arriving in Amsterdam.


It’s been a smooth ol’ day; everything’s gone to plan, and I’m happy to be back on the Marco Polo. I’m missing Tracey, of course, who will be joining me in Funchal, Madeira in about a week’s time.


There’s just one thing I wanted to recount from my, largely, uneventful journey down to Tilbury from home this morning….


I must have been driving for about an hour or so when an enormous spider appeared on my dashboard. The car hasn’t been used much over Christmas and the New Year, so I’m not surprised that beasts should decide to take residence in it, but I was rather taken aback by the size of it. It appeared, then scampered across the dashboard, in front of me, and stopped; presumeably to take a good look at me. We stared each other down for a minute or two, each waiting for the other to make a move – although I was rather preoccupied by navigating the A1(M)… the spider was unnerving, though.


After a few minutes, it decided I wasn’t very interesting, and disappeared again, down the side, and out of sight….


…only to reappear – to my horror – right alongside me, on the ledge of the driver’s door. And it started to walk towards me. I shouted at it, but it took no notice… and just as it came parallel with my shoulder, I swear it reached out, preparing to make a leap onto me….


In that instant, I knew exactly what to do; I hit the button to open the electric window… and before the spider could come up with anything further to intimidate me with – the wind from the now open window whipped past and snatched it out into the the abyss….


I punched the air… Yesssss!!! I win!!!!

Peter Woolley

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