The Azura docked at Amber Cove in the early hours of the morning. Unlike the other Islands we had visited so far, this port was not so much a gateway to the Island itself but a purpose built and self contained cruise resort. I really enjoyed the day here, it had all the usual duty free rum and tacky shirts and souvenirs but was also home to a ton of free to use sun loungers, a large pool area complete with two slides and a swim up bar. Pretty cool. My cousin also informed me that the pharmacy also had out a large display of Viagra type products. It remains to be seen if that was normal, if they knew our ship was mostly populated by couples of retirement age or because of what happened next. What happened next was a highlight of the entire cruise.
We spent the morning buying coffee in exchange for a wifi code, yes they actually put it in your phone without you seeing, so we could catch up with the internets and then bought a few souvenirs and toured the shops. A second ship had come into dock directly next to ours during the morning and as we headed back to our boat for lunch, this Cruise ship dropped it gangplanks. We became like the salmon that go against the current as a barrage of people flooded towards the resort. I noticed two guys proudly holding hands as they walked along and it reminded me that we have a gay couple on our voyage, it was nice to see that it’s a common occurrence. Then I spotted two more guys holding hands, and two more. It took a few seconds for the penny to drop. The stream we were swimming up consisted entirely of men, as far as the eye could see. Fabulous men at that. I was confident, pointing out the rhinestone encrusted cruise card holders to my wife, that we had encountered a gay cruise.
This was amazing to me, I was genuinely surprised. I honestly thought it was something that only happened in films. The straight guy who gets lost at sea and is rescuing by a passing ship that is of course full of stereotypical, flamboyantly dressed types having an outrageous party. I’d never given any thought to it being a real thing. Of course it is though, why wouldn’t it be? These guys, however, were obviously not dressed like the village people. For the most part they were just normal guys dressed for the beach. There were a few characters, with over the top sunglasses, some muscular younger guys with super skin tight bathers, some older gentlemen whom I overheard refer to themselves as ‘old queens’ and there were definitely a number of women with them too. Closer to the ship we could see the adornment of rainbow flags tied here there and everywhere. It was about this time we discovered just how homophobic some of the older generation can be. Sadly. The new ship was the talk of the town at the feeding trough. Everyone seemed to have an opinion on it, for better or worse.
We donned our swimsuits and went back to make full use of the facilities and find the rest of the family. By this time the pool area was awash with stylish young men, frolicking in the pool and shooting down the slides. We set up base on some sun loungers next to two middle aged guys and it turns out they were Americans and it was indeed a gay cruise. They were very open about the whole thing and my wife grilled them for details. She was most curious about the types of entertainment and facilities on board, discovering they sounded much more fun than our own. We also heard that these cruises are apparently very common and quite accessible for Americans, they do not have far to sail as they embark in Florida. I left H to sunbathe and hit the slides.
Time for a little bit more exposition. I like to stay cool in the hot sun and often take to the water to cool down, I have discovered during my time on Gili Trawangan and Merru Island, that this is a great way of getting sunburned, lotion or not. I mention this only to explain why I was wearing a UV filtering t-shirt whilst attempting the water slides. I also had on water shoes as it’s all too easy to hurt my, never seen the bare ground, feet.
The slides were rubbish as I kept grinding to an almost dead stop each time. A young chap from our boat told me it was because I was wearing too many clothes, he then cast an eye to one of the extremely tight swim short clad members of the other ship before informing me he wasn’t trying to ‘sound gay or anything’. I laughed it up and stripped my t shirt off and threw myself down the slide. Success. I got wet much faster at the bottom this time. One trip up to the slides, hobbling on the rough ground without my water shoes, I met an elderly couple. I jokingly asked if they were heading up to the slides and they actually were. Twice I’ve been naive today. Me and the lady went on a slide each and her husband hung back as he wanted the open top slide the same as his wife chose. I was happy enough with the closed in dark one. We both exited the pool and it seemed to take forever for the gent to arrive. She even had time to tell me that he was ticking things off his bucket list. He arrived in a rush and it was instantly clear he had lost his senses. He was frozen rigid and flapping his arms around from the elbows only. He looked terrified. Before either of us could react, the life guard was diving in the pool and standing him up as the water is only chest high at it’s deepest. As soon as he was upright the elderly chap was right as rain, big grin on his face too. His wife told me he had parkinsons amongst other health issues and so they were living their lives to the fullest before he got any worse. I wished them well on their adventures and got back to my childish fun. My cousins showed up and we all went on the slides together before chilling in the pool until it was almost time to go. It was nice, we even discovered that those of us who shared blood had a distinct inability to float unaided. It’s nice to belong to something. I got my first chance to spend time with the only child in our family. He’s a fun kid, really happy most of the time and has this adorable frown when he’s tired or grumpy. We have our own secret handshake down pretty quick too so we are officially in a gang.
As we were leaving, we saw the boys from the 4tunes soaking up some sun. My sister actually went over to say hello and so we left her to it. She caught up with us holding a bag of coffee. I guess sometimes a good cup of java is just more important.
We had enjoyed the musical stylings of the 4tunes the night before so tonight we got to the theatre early to be sure of seats. There were many available. The place almost filled up by showtime but it was not as popular this evening. The headliners tonight were named The Headliners, see what they did there… It was a pretentious load of nonsense, in my humble opinion. My wife called it akin to a GCSE drama production. Two futuristic tribes in a post apocalyptic scenario sing modern hits like Earth Song whilst performing interpretive dance. A boy and girl from each of the tribes fall in love and it starts a war, then everyone dances with zebras before turning into birds. It’s a classic tale. Titled ‘Evolution’ the fake drumming was the worst part by far, they were out of sync with each other and the music and quite clearly making no contact with the thing they were supposed to be drumming on.
The start is back this way in case you missed it.