Travel Story A cruise at age 86? It's heaven on earth...

"I’m an old lady now and I went to heaven on October 17. But only for a week."

We first published a story by Maurine Jarvis in 2005 when she was 74. When we published another in 2007, she thought she might have come to an age where she’d stay put. But she’s back with us again, writing about her most recent trip... 

I’m an old lady now — I’m 86 — and I went to heaven on October 17. But only for a week. I was in musical heaven on Radiance of the Seas (pictured above), which left Sydney on that day on a Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts and called in at Mare, New Caledonia and Noumea before returning to Sydney on October 24.

We had a concert every night. The stars we saw, to name just a few, were soprano Dame Kiri Te Kanawa, operatic baritone Teddy Tahu Rhodes, stage and television singer-actor Rachael Beck, pianist Simon Tedeschi, and opera singer and composer David Hobson.

There were singers Cheryl Baker and Peter Coleman-Wright, who were off to Brisbane after the cruise to star in Kiss Me Kate. Jonathon Welch of the Choir of Hard Knocks was there with a choir of enthusiastic passengers and Guy Noble was the very funny and entertaining compere.

Besides the night-time concerts, there was music going on all over the ship.

My favourites, the Stomping Ivories (two pianists and a drummer), played one night from 11.30pm to 1am, the latest I’ve been awake in years. I was at their show on the final night of the cruise from 10.30pm to midnight when artists who had finished their acts were coming to mingle and listen. Rachael Beck arrived on the stage — “Don’t you just love these boys?” — and then sang for us. The young tap dancer from the Kermonds (a grandson, dad and grandad tap-dancing family) put on his shoes and danced for us.

The food was great. No cooking or washing up required on my part. Slow-cooked lamb shanks was on the menu on the last night — one to remember.

On accommodation: I travel cheaply, and the cheaper I travel the more I can travel. I was in a four-bed cabin, and eventually there were three of us — two (first come) on the bottom beds, the third in a bunk bed above me. If I had to I guess I could climb the ladder but our third was a slim, agile little lady who coped. We got along famously.

 We had an early riser (the youngest one) who was showered and dressed and off for the day. We did our own different things during the day, coming together to talk at the end of the day. I didn’t go ashore — I was enjoying the ship — but our youngest companion did. She had a beautiful day’s snorkelling at Noumea.

For many of the passengers, this was their third Bravo! Cruise of the Performing Arts and they were already booking next year’s trip. At the moment, I’m like Maggie Smith. I don’t even buy green bananas ...

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