A curious event was listed on the daily programme for the first evening of my recent Regent Seven Seas cruise. It was a ‘block party.’ It was scheduled to coincide with sailaway, and apparently it’s a tradition with Regent. One that no other line has, as far as I know.
The cruise director explained in his welcome announcement that the ‘block party’ was the time to step out of your cabin into the corridor, have a drink and greet your neighbours. In the corridor.
Well, I normally like to be on deck for sailaway. And I can’t think of anything I’d less like to do than meet my neighbours.
Being a mildly unsociable person, I go on cruises because I love ships, I love the sea, and I love visiting different ports. I’m not actively seeking to meet other people; if that happens, it happens. I grumpily decided that I would sneak up on deck and avoid the whole thing.
So I opened my door, only to be greeted by two beaming cabin stewards with bottles and trays of canapés. Only one couple was around, standing outside their door, looking embarrassed. We greeted each other politely and I made my excuses, selected a cube of cheese and hurried off to wave goodbye to Civitavecchia. I was waylaid by a travelling companion and we ended up in the bar where I canvassed opinion from others (the group of Brits I was travelling with) about the concept of a corridor party.
“A really good idea,” said one. “I’ve sailed with Regent before and it’s been a real laugh.” “Harmless fun,” said another. “Although sometimes neighbours can be too friendly when encouraged; once I had one who practically climbed around the balcony to be sociable.”
“Just, no,” said a third. “Not for me. Cringe-worthy. That’s why I’m here, in the bar.” Each to his (or her) own, then. I really don’t mean to be a killjoy, but the idea of this enforced jollity in a corridor seems most odd. I’m clearly in a minority because when I went back to my cabin, the party in every corridor I passed was in full swing and the (already included) booze was flowing. Regent is clearly onto something with its block parties, although whether the concept would work with a shipload of stiff-upper-lip Brits is another matter.
How well do you really want to know your neighbours? A polite ‘hello’ on passing in the corridor, or life stories swapped before you’ve even left port?
Let us know.