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Cabaret on the P&O

April 2005
Through the tipping-it-down pouring rain to Rotterdam, where we boarded the ferry and then stayed eating and talking in the self-service restaurant somewhat later than we usually do, which meant that as we walked back to our cabin through the bar, the cabaret had begun. Two men and three women, the men in black shirts, black trousers and rather clompy black shoes, the women in low-cut black v-tops, black trousers with sharp creases and very-high-heeled shoes, and they between them did a kind of polished karaoke with rehearsed dance movements.
Behind a glass screen at the rear of the audience were two rather cauliflower-eared men with shaven heads, working the sound balance and lighting.
At the tables sat a smattering of elderly folk, trying to appear enthusiastic. We stood at the back alongside some lorry drivers nursing their pints, and were incredulous. And laughing, though we felt rather snooty doing this so decided not to stay too long.
This particular crossing, being a Tuesday in April, was not terribly full and the people that there were mainly consisted of German coach parties of elderly folk. This is not the key market for the Hull-Rotterdam ferry: no, this ferry makes most of its money from Brits on a night out, where they cross to Rotterdam, or Zeebrugge, dancing and drinking to the cabaret until, the lead singer gleefully informed us in his intro, about 4am, periodically interspersing their entertainment with a turn losing their money at the blackjack or roulette tables. They then sleep away a coach trip round the bulbfields or more likely the red light district of Amsterdam and repeat the exciting experience the following night on the way back home. They can even leave their dancing shoes and glittery gown and cowboy hat in the cabin for the day. What a grand double night-out! While we boring old respectables sleep through it all in our cabins, oblivious to all the fun that is taking place just along the corridor.
The ferry docked safely, I’m pleased to report.


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