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Saturday, August 15, 2020

CHRISTOPHER STEVENS: It will take more than a pandemic to sink the spirits of cruise fans

Billion pound cruises: all at sea

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The supervisor: Puppy Special

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Of all the clear numbers that fill our screens, the documentaries on cruise ships are the most formal: the same characters, the same dramas, the same avalanche of statistics.

There is always the receptionist called Paolo da Montevideo or Manila, with his icy highlights and his unstoppable giggle: ‘My job is to know everyone’s names and everyone’s problems by the end of the first day. Coo-ee! Barbara! Are your warts better now?

Then we meet the captain with the square jaw, with the photo of his wife and three adorable children shown in the foreground on the bridge.

Of all the clear numbers that fill our screens, the documentaries on cruise ships are the most formal: the same characters, the same dramas, the same avalanche of statistics

Of all the clear numbers that fill our screens, the documentaries on cruise ships are the most formal: the same characters, the same dramas, the same avalanche of statistics

In the galley there is a burly chef named Kirsten or Keisha: the voiceover tells us that during the trip “Chef will serve 21 kilometers of Bavarian sausage, 36,000 tubs of Caspian Beluga caviar and only six lettuces” (nobody sticks to one diet boarding a cruise ship).

Tony, the unfortunate Scouser in charge of the ship’s pipes, comes out. There’s a block on deck five, he sighs, reaching for the shoulder-length rubber gloves.

Whether we are in the Mediterranean or circumnavigating the globe, each series on board these floating buildings was the same … up to the coronavirus.

Billion Pound Cruises: All At Sea (ITV) reported a very different situation – where scarce canned peaches and Prosecco were the least important concerns.

After the Covid-19 strike, the shares of some cruise lines have plummeted over 80%.

They were damaged by the perception that ships crammed with elderly passengers were deadly coronavirus traps, full of disease.

Someone coined the filthy phrase “floating Petri dishes” which proved more destructive than a torpedo in the arches.

Never take vacation tips or investment advice from a TV column, but based on this one-hour report, I wouldn’t have canceled the cruise industry yet.

It’s not just the money involved, even though there are 120 inactive ships worldwide. It is the pure resilience of passengers.

Morven and Ian found themselves stranded off the coast of Chile when the crisis broke, with a gunboat turning to make sure their ship, the MS Zaandam of Holland, could not dock.

The Glasgow couple’s response was to write and record comic songs they posted on Facebook. They continued to sing, although the coronavirus swept the ship.

Held at bay in the Panama Canal, the Zaandam was nicknamed “the Pariah ship”. Morven and Ian continued fighting.

It will take a brave globetrotter to sign up for the holidays afloat now, with the risk that a second outbreak could confine people to their cabins for whole weeks.

Fortunately for cruise lines, this maritime nation will not be stopped by a small thing like a worldwide pandemic. Britannia rules the waves!

The Supervet: Puppy Special (C4) looked back at some of the show's smaller and prettier patients, before contacting the owners and asking them to film the updates on their smartphones

The Supervet: Puppy Special (C4) looked back at some of the show’s smaller and prettier patients, before contacting the owners and asking them to film the updates on their smartphones

If your optimism needs a boost, turn to the miracle doctor Noel Fitzpatrick, the man who pioneered bionic surgery for our pets.

The Supervet: Puppy Special (C4) looked back at some of the show’s smaller and prettier patients, before contacting the owners and asking them to film the updates on their smartphones.

Not only is it a hilarious and inexpensive way to spice up a repetition, but it has worked quite well.

It was a joy to see Chica the bulldog, who needed pins in a three-month elbow fracture: she is now a fat, sweet, sloppy armed with cuddles who loves her master, Sean.

You can’t help but think that if the best moments on television yesterday were filmed on the phone by a besieged dog owner and a retired couple on vacation, the next victims of Covid-19 could be the professional crew.

Jedi Vampire of the Night: When the creators of What We Do In The Shadows (BBC2) heard Mark Hamill (Star Wars’ Luke Skywalker) was a fan, them wrote a part for him. Fought a duel of Dracula … wielding a swimming pool cue grabbed like a lightsaber.

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