The lead up to our honeymoon was exciting, but stressful. Yes, of course I was over the moon to be going to exotic places I never in my life thought I’d see, but the preparation required prior to our departure was it’s own kind of psychological torture. As any plus size person knows, clothes shopping can be the worst more often than not, and when you’re trying to find the perfect outfits for a trip, it can feel even harder than normal.
My husband and I took to ASOS and Boohoo’s websites and bought close to £1,000 worth of clothes to allow for certain things to not fit well or for us to not like them. However, when we received our haul we were not prepared for nearly everything to not be to our liking. Pants that were described as 'slim leg' were more like boot cut, bathing suits that were sized as a 24 (two sizes bigger than what I am) were still too small for my bust, and shorts refused to button despite being ordered according to the measurements listed under the size chart. Being in a pretty fragile mental state to begin with, this made me spiral downwards a bit. My husband assured me the clothes fiasco didn’t matter. We were going on our honeymoon, and even if I wore a trash bag through the whole trip we were going to have the time of our lives.
We boarded P&O cruise ship, the Azura, on Friday the 13th. We didn’t realise our honeymoon would start on what's considered the unluckiest day of the year, but we weren’t particularly superstitious people anyway. Maybe I should have been though. By 4pm. I'd had cheese sprinkled all over my takeaway food despite not asking for it (and being lactose intolerant), and I'd lost my cruise ship room key which linked to our credit card, as well as my wedding ring. I truly felt cursed.
'Who loses their wedding ring on the first day of their honeymoon?' I wailed into a pillow as my husband tried to console me that it was just a 'thing' and could be replaced. After a solid 45 minute sob fest, I got myself together and assured myself the rest of this cruise was going to be amazing. And to be honest, it was…
On our fifth day of cruising, we docked in Barcelona. The city was just as beautiful and enchanting as its name. We spent part of the day doing an open top bus tour of the city, and the other part exploring its side streets. I felt a little self-conscious whenever I caught someone’s glance, as I was wearing an off the shoulder black bodysuit tucked into little red shorts. I did my best to project confidence and not wonder whether they were staring at me because they thought I was 'too fat' for my outfit. It was 90 degrees, for goodness’ sake! I’m not going to suffer a heatstroke just because someone had a problem with my fat thighs.
When we got back to the ship that evening, we decided to eat in the main dining room. Up to that point, we had gotten pretty lucky as far as being seated by ourselves, or eating with a nice enough couple, but that night our luck ran out. We were sat at a table with two other couples and one gentleman on his own. We were the youngest couple on board, as far as we could tell, with most people on board being at best 60 years old and up. But that didn’t matter to us. We were still more than happy to make conversation with the people we were sat with. This did not, however, work both ways we quickly found. The few times we tried to initiate conversation with our dinner mates, we were either ignored or granted one word answers, meanwhile the conversation amongst themselves flowed effortlessly. It was the most uncomfortable dinner I’ve ever experienced, and I wish I could say it was an isolated incident, but it wouldn’t be the last time we dealt with this treatment from others on board. Although it was never explicitly said, we were well aware of the stares my colourful hair and my husband’s tattoos and piercings received daily. People were blacklisting us as less than them, despite the fact we paid the same money as them to experience this luxury cruise. After our horrible dining experience, we opted to eat in some of the speciality restaurants - where we were guaranteed to be sat by ourselves - more often than we anticipated to avoid further uncomfortable meals.
No matter how rude others chose to be, we still had a ball. We participated in quizzes daily, and played blackjack regularly, even walking away with a cool £400 in winnings at the casino. We went to nearly every show they had on board, and whether it be singing, dancing, or comedy, all of the entertainment on board was incredible. Though some of the onboard activities were definitely not for our age group. The advertised nightly nightclubs exclusively played songs of the '60s, and nearly all of the seminars and talks were about how to fight aches, pains, and wrinkles. Most days at sea really felt like we were onboard a floating retirement home.
We didn’t spend too much time pool side, mainly because almost every warm, lovely day we had whilst cruising was spent in either Saint Tropez, Florence, or Rome. The couple of times we did sunbathe or swim, I struggled to relax at all. The only bathing suits I could find that fit me were two piece sets and even then, whether they actually fit my bust was debatable. Every time I got undressed by the pool I felt like all eyes were glued on me, but then I’d get in the pool and feel the sun on my skin and literally all of my anxiety just melted away.
As the trip came to end, I felt immense sadness. Yes, certain parts of it left a lot to be desired, but all in all, I really liked cruising. And now we have a better idea of what companies we’d like to cruise on in the future, like Royal Caribbean, which has activities and amenities aimed at a younger age group like us. All in all, I can wholeheartedly say I had the time of my life. I ate expensive macaroons in France, and had the best pasta of my life in Florence. We learned about the beautiful architecture and political climate of Barcelona, and I kissed my husband in front of the Coliseum in Rome on our first wedding anniversary. If that’s not a great honeymoon, I don’t know what is…