Thong wearer asked to change for decency

We were piloted into Walvis Bay, Namibia encircled by cold dense fog, which fortunately burnt off by 9.30am. I took a long walk into town which could have been anywhere because of the all too familiar restaurants and American-type shopping malls.

We were piloted into Walvis Bay, Namibia encircled by cold dense fog, which fortunately burnt off by 9.30am. I took a long walk into town which could have been anywhere because of the all too familiar restaurants and American-type shopping malls.

The only thing which stood out as different was the small clusters of locals sitting, standing and loitering, waiting to be offered the chance of a day's work.

I was soon bored so trekked back to the ship where miraculously there had appeared loads of stalls selling wood carvings, postcards, t-shirts etc.

As I approached the ship a taxi pulled up, the door burst open and a voice said “get in”. I felt like a streetwalker, until I saw it was Owen - a rather abrupt Australian who was a dining companion, who was on his way to Swakopmund - a German settlement since the 1800s. Since I had nothing better to do I complied.

We passed through 30kms of desert sand dunes along a coast road seeing old townships of poor housing and new enclaves of luxury villas.

“Angelina Jolie owns one of them and had her baby in Swakopmund,” the driver proudly announced.

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Our tour of Swakopmund was short because of the need to get back to the QE2 for an early sailaway at 1.30pm but we managed to see all the major buildings and even fitted in a trip to a lagoon where hundreds of migrating pink flamingos were feeding.

I had a shock when I got back to my cabin - there were luggage labels sitting on my bed - are they trying to get rid of me? Even worse the following day when I found disembarkation in Southampton details waiting for me. Is this really the end of the cruise?

I went on deck - the topmost funnel deck during the night to view the stars in the southern hemisphere sky. The officer giving the commentary had a torch with a very bright, far reaching beam so we were easily able to pick out Orion, Gemini, Sirius the Southern Cross, some others I've forgotten the name of and part of the Big Dipper. It was really interesting except I got a crick in my neck!

Originating from the date that the Knights Templar were executed by King Phillipe of France in the 13th Century. It was also the birthday of one of my friends so we had a party. This was followed later in the evening by a special invitation to the captain's quarters for cocktails.

We crossed the equator for the fourth and last time on day 100 - a hot, humid, cloudy and showery day. Another large bouquet of flowers was delivered to my stateroom. Again I ask myself why me? No one else seems to get them.

I was initiated into the ancient order of Turtles - a very secret society. If anyone asks if you are a member you do not say “yes” - if you do you have to buy drinks all round. The correct answer is “You bet your sweet ass I am” - more drinks.

I had a very pleasant afternoon tea with the captain and Mrs Perkins. We chatted about “codes” on the ship. A recent one was “ships personnel - a code two in the Old Bailey”. I asked if the Old Bailey was the brig, to which he laughed and said: “We don't have one - the 'Old Bailey' is the name given to a corridor in the crew quarters.”

Although the bridge is manned 24/7 he still likes to keep his hand in and take control at some part of each day.

Captain David Perkins is a giant of a man. He laughs and jokes with everyone, but there is no doubt who is Master on this ship (he told me he had changed his uniform specially to meet me - even put on clean underwear just in case I threw him a hardball question and he fainted).

After meeting the captain I had to rush to get changed for pre-dinner drinks with some friends, then eat anything from three to five course dinner followed by the Carnival Masked Ball in the Queen's room which was decorated with multicoloured balloons, streamers and giant masks.

The resident dancers did a pasa doble and the QE2 dance team vamped their way through a Latin routine.

It was “Disco Dorothy's” 90th birthday and we all sang “happy birthday” to her. I'm told she danced until well turned midnight.

Back in the ballroom Phil - an extrovert Australian who does demonstrations of whip cracking - was again wearing his backless dinner suit complete with thong, but this time because of objections by one or two passengers he was politely asked to change into something “decent”.

SUNDAY was a hot, sunny day so I worked on my tan. I think I reached a peak in Fiji and have remained the same colour ever since. Some passengers hardly ever go outside and are the same pale colour as when they started the cruise.

I've met so many people on board, those who always have a moan, those who I can swap jokes with, those who always have the latest gossip, those who I can go on excursions with or just jump into a taxi and explore independently with. Those I eat with or do Sudoku with and those I just sit and relax companionably reading, chatting or drinking with. Some I see every morning doing e-mails, some I have a cup of tea with at night, passengers or crew, there is always someone nearby or should I wish, I can find a quiet corner to retreat to.

THERE are several shops on board ship. One is near my cabin, selling anything you may run out of such as suntan lotion, toothpaste, shoelaces, batteries, indigestion tablets, sweets and crisps etc. The main area for buying is on the Royal Promenade.

The duty free shop sells the usual perfume, cigarettes, wines and spirits - the latter can be bought put not delivered to your cabin until the day before disembarkation - shame.

It is nearly time to start packing, so I must be getting near home. Canaries tomorrow, Madeira on Wednesday then Southampton, I can't believe it.