Well, this page is supposed to be about me.
I’m now in my early 60s, and I’m married to Val – we celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary in 2010 – and we have two adult daughters. We’ve lived in Sheffield for nearly 28 years, in a family semi in a leafy suburb. It’s the house where we raised our daughters, and I suppose it’s a bigger than we actually need these days, but to to be truthful we do enjoy the space.
I’m still working, in IT, and for the last ten years I have had the luxury of working from home for a small internet-based software company. Some mornings my commute is hell! – it’s a long way from the kitchen up to my office after breakfast…. Prior to this I spent a few years working as a contractor in the IT industry, often away from home; and for most of the time before that I was a civil servant, starting in 1976 and leaving in 1994. Indeed, it was my job with the Manpower Services Commission (as was – later a division of the Department of Employment) that brought me to Sheffield from London in the early 80s.
Val also works, also for a software company in the healthcare industry, and has been with them for more than twenty years. Before that she got a degree in maths and computing from the Open University.
Now, about our interest in cruising…we went on our first cruise in 2005. Well, actually, that’s not not quite true…. Val had cruised on the old Oriana in 1969 – 12 nights or so from Southampton to the Med, calling at Lisbon, Palma, Naples, and Athens. She was only 14 and went with her grandmother, with whom she shared a cabin. She remembers it fondly, but also remembers thinking how much more she might have enjoyed it if she’d been a bit older, and as a result she’d always fancied cruising again. She had mentioned this a few times during our years together, and in the early winter of 2004 I decided to look into it. And so I started the process of finding out about cruise lines, ships, and types of cruises. At that time I’d heard of Cunard, P&O and possibly Fred Olsen, and probably not a lot more – I’m not sure I knew even the names of the major US-based lines. For some reason I got hold of some information about MSC Cruises, and they started to sound attractive. We decided we liked the idea of cruising on a foreign ship – we’d be ‘abroad’ even when we were on the ship, as it were.
Looking back on that first cruise on MSC Sinfonia in 2005, I can now see a lot that was wrong with it. But we had nothing against which to compare it, and it was certainly good enough to spark considerable enthusiasm in us for cruising. In some respects, even, I wish I could be as enthusiastic about the next cruise as I was about that first one. But that’s not possible, and I think that after you’ve done a few it’s inevitable that you become a bit blasé about it all. Hopefully however we haven’t reached the stage where all we can see are the negatives. I hope that as long as we go on cruises we’ll continue to think that ‘a day at sea is always better than a day ashore’.