The visit of the Three Queens to Liverpool recently to celebrate the 175th anniversary of Cunard was a magnificent and spectacular event. I very much enjoyed the pomp, circumstance and sense of occasion this unique piece of maritime history created and I loved watching the spectacle of the ships on the River Mersey.
I was impressed to the very core at the size and splendour of the ships and marvelled at the feat of engineering involved in their construction. It's amazing that man has created such a remarkable contraption that despite its enormity, can do a 360 degree turn in the middle of the river like it's no bother at all.
There was lots of murmuring in the crowd about how lovely it would be to take a cruise on one of these beauties. As for me, I wouldn't travel on one even if you paid me!
Let me explain. I suffer with Generalised Anxiety Disorder which can be summed up by saying you are scared of everything. It doesn't matter how big or small something is, whether it is seen as exciting by everyone else or even whether it is likely to happen. Coupled with an over-active imagination, I can conjure up doom-laden scenarios at a moment's notice.
The thought of cruises and subsequent disasters has bothered me ever since I watched the TV film The Poseidon Adventure as a child. The main areas of concern are the fact that the ship is out in the ocean for a long time which increases any risk factors, plus these boats are generally very large beasts and so what happens if you are stuck in the middle of one when it starts to sink?
In my generally anxious, over-actively imaginative brain, I can't help but conjure up what might happen if I was asleep in a cabin far away from life boats. What if the warning signals weren't issued in time and I woke to find my bed was floating sideways and there was a shark in the bath? How would I contain my panic in order to navigate my way through the many corridors along with thousands of other scared passengers to the exits? No amount of floor plans and brightly lit signs are going to help in this instance.
Plus, no matter how much you want to tell me otherwise, I don't believe there are ever enough life boats. Even in the case of the Costa Concordia, the amount of life boats didn't matter, as they had been fixed on in a stupid way which meant that they wouldn't lower properly because the ship went down at an angle.
The thought of the ship sinking isn't even my worst fear.
What if I did manage to jump off the ship but couldn't stay afloat? My swimming is rubbish, I can only do about two lengths.
What if I did get a spot in a life boat but the rescue planes couldn't find us?
What if I got third degree burns from being unable to shelter from the sun in the lifeboat?
What if various sea-bound mammals took a shine to us in our flimsy escape vessel which has inflatable sides just perfect for sharp teeth to ravage?
Those are my very worst cruise ship fears but I also have other issues which freak me the hell out just thinking about them. One of the most mind-boggling concepts for me is the idea of a swimming pool on board a ship which is on the sea. My brain cannot understand how you would process the swaying. How would you know whether it was the pool water, the ship or the ocean making you sway? Plus if you look at the sea while you are in the pool, isn't that very confusing?
I can only hope that everyone on board the Three Queens right now has a copy of the SAS Survival Handbook, which has an excellent section on survival at sea (for shark attack - punch it between the eyes) As an added measure, I'd advise them to strap all their important possessions like passports and make-up to their bodies in waterproof bags.
I'm not saying everyone who suffers from Generalised Anxiety Disorder thinks like this, I'm sure there are many GAD folk who would love a luxury cruise. This is just the way my irrepressible, inscrutable, outrageous head operates.
I've had a year of Cognitive Behavioural Therapy, which is the treatment du jour for this condition and while it has been extremely effective in changing my belief that everyone I know is going to die soon, the cruise ship fear persists. I've accepted it as part of my personality and hope to meet other anti-cruise ship fanatics for company one day.
So while I will effusively greet Queen Mary 2 when she returns in July, I will be keeping a safe distance and practising my CBT techniques while I'm stood at the waterfront.