I do love a good cruise and I’m going on one in May of this year.  And while that doesn’t sound particularly frugal remember I’m prudent and thrifty with clothes. Furthermore, I don’t drink, don’t even eat chocolate, so a cruise every other year – I have to have some vices!   Also at my age (see below) I think, as far as possible, do it now – ten years hence, who knows!

I didn’t always think like this.  Somehow, we got into the habit of spending practically nothing on our holidays.  But to cut a long story short one year we had a disastrous week in a cottage in Scotland.  We drove all the way there (that’s a long drive for Brits) and when we arrived it began to rain (it was the height of summer) and it never stopped.  On the second day my husband started a corker of a cold and was so ill he couldn’t go out of the rather meagerly furnished cottage (it wasn’t like the photo in the brochure).   And on the third day, I slipped getting out of the bath and bruised my leg so badly I couldn’t bear to drive let alone walk.  By the time we recovered it was the end of the week, and then we drove all the way back. This was my epiphany moment – when I got back I said, never again, and booked a cruise for our next holiday.

But, why go on a cruise, I hear you ask? Surely that kind of holiday is i) for old people and ii) it must be horrible going on those ships that look like a block of flats on a pontoon.

Ok, so far I’ve only been on one, and in answer to the first statement, yes there was a large number of people in their 70s and 80s on that particular cruise (to Norway – wonderful, in case you ask). But, isn’t it a bit ageist to think that you won’t have a good time with older people? What’s more I’ll be 68 on this year’s cruise, so I’m not that far away from the 70-year-olds, anyway. Actually, the people we met were dynamic, lively and interesting, and it was also seriously good for the morale being one of the younger participants on board the good ship Saga Ruby. And in answer to the second statement, Saga runs two small ships*, and the delightful Saga Ruby (now retired) looked like a proper old-fashioned ship.

I’m not sure why we decided on Saga, but having been on one of their cruises I have to say their standards are super-high.  What’s more, they pick you up from your front door!  Not sure whether that’s to keep the stress down amongst their older customers so there are no heart attacks just after people arrive (because there’s a lot of running around doing the pre-vacation chores and the packing) but it’s a good feeling to be pampered like that.

black dress on doorCruises take you places, for sure (we’re going to St. Petersburg and the Baltic states in May, international politics permitting) but it’s the dressing up that does it for me, *sighs with contentment*.   We just don’t live that kind of lifestyle so a cruise is the opportunity to wear that beautiful long frock and that sequined top.  Mind you, I absolutely refuse to wear those wide trousers that seem to be ubiquitous in cruise publicity shots.  I wear my skinny jeans during the day with a variety of tops, and then, as is the custom, I change into one of my cruise frocks.

The hunt for the evening wear; the long formal dresses and the shorter cocktail frocks began over two years ago (for the last cruise) and has been a source of great pleasure. Because all of them have come from charity shops, and the thrill of finding not just a bargain but also a beautifully cut, sequined and/or flouncy frock has been beyond thrilling – yes, I know, I’m easily pleased.

silver-dress-smallAbove is one of the cocktail dresses I’ll wear on the May cruise – it’s my 75p Karen Millen frock.  And the one on the left, costing all of £6.99, featured in a post I wrote for StylishOleWoman, where I explain how Claire (House of Cards) Underwood has influenced my dress sense, and I now look for more form-fitting clothes than I used to.

I do wear some of the frocks between cruises but not as often as I would like, because I think we should wear what we’ve got and not leave outfits languishing at the back of the wardrobe. But do let me know what you wear when you dress up and at what occasion, I’d love to hear your stories.

With love, Penny

The Frugal Fashion Shopper

*MS Saga Sapphire is a 37,301 ton ship with a maximum capacity for 720 passengers.   MS Saga Pearl II is an 18,591 ton ship with a capacity for 449 passengers.

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