From the archives...
My wife and I were flown out to St Maarten in the Caribbean to join the Queen Elizabeth for her return journey across the Atlantic to Southampton. On the crossing, I gave five talks and did three book signings; also held a seminar on creative writing. 40 copies of my book were purchased by guests. Wonderful ship.
The outward journey was not without incident. There was an eight hour wait in Antigua to get the connecting flight via Liat to St Maarten, stopping at St Kitts on the way. Once we were on the delayed 40 seater plane, strapped in ready to go, at 9.30pm, the Irish pilot came on the intercom to profusely apologise for the fact that he was going to have to ask us to get off the plane and wait on the tarmac in the dark as he didn’t have enough fuel.
Having eventually reached St Maarten, there was no one there to meet us. We managed to track down the designated hotel way after midnight only to find our fellow ship’s entertainer hadn’t a room. A very sleepy night porter who spoke little English, couldn’t work out whether any of the rooms on the register were unoccupied. We tried one. A guest was woken up. I then ended up accompanying him round the front of the hotel, wading through gullies of water flowing down on to a beach ( we were in the midst of a tropical storm) on to a veranda to unlock the French windows of a room in pitch darkness. Where upon, we peered into the gloom ahead where we could just make out a huge four poster with a dark cover. The porter then proceeded to crawl across the room on hands and knees with me bent down beside him to reach the bedside cabinet where he popped his head up in an attempt to discover whether there was anyone sleeping in the bed. There was no ‘body’! Our fellow entertainer now had a room.
Needless to say, we encountered no such shenanigans when escorted to our stateroom on the Queen Elizabeth.