One of the most interesting things about cruising is the people you meet. People are much more open on a cruise and so you have a lot more interaction on a cruise than on land.
I've found that experienced cruisers often have a story to tell. Indeed, by definition, people who travel the sea do things beyond the ordinary. Furthermore, their lives often have an unusual aspect when they are on land.
Sheila Collins is an experienced cruiser. “I have been cruising since October 1991. My next cruise will be my 55th, and my 15th on Celebrity Eclipse.”
“I have been on seven different cruise lines over the years but my favourite is Celebrity Cruises, closely followed by Royal Caribbean, with Costa in third place! My favourite ship of all time is Celebrity Eclipse with - going back a bit in time - Celebrity's Constellation and Century, Royal Caribbean's Vision of the Seas and Costa's Costa Atlantica following!”
“Over the years I have cruised to the Caribbean, USA, Mexico, South America, West Indies, Bahamas, the Mediterranean, the Riviera, Gibraltar, Spain, Portugal, Egypt, Turkey, North Africa, Canary Isles, Madeira, the Azores, France, Germany, Italy, Sicily, Corsica, Cyprus, Poland, Estonia, Lithuania, Sweden, Denmark, Norway and Russia. My favourite cruises have been the Panama Canal route, South America, Scandinavia and the Baltics. I also like Madeira!”
“What attracts me to cruising? Being able to visit many countries, yet without having to pack and unpack every day! Being on a luxurious ship and looked after by excellent stewards etc.. Having wonderful food and meeting like-minded people. Also, since I have been traveling solo now for the past 8 years or so, feeling safe - - I wouldn't want to go and stay in a hotel by myself for two weeks! I've been hooked on cruising since our first one and I've always said nothing else could compare.”
In addition to being an experienced cruiser, Ms. Collins is an author and illustrator, based in Cornwall in southwest England . Moreover, she has found a way to combine her writing with her love of cruising. She is not a maritime historian and she does not write guide books. Rather, her approach to writing about cruising is unique, involving both wit and insight.
With a deep affection for animals Ms. Collins has written several popular books focusing on the relationship between domestic animals and the people who live with them. This includes a book in which British and American celebrities talk about their favorite pets. However, she is best known for her series of books narrated by her cats Truffles and Misty.
“At one point we had a St Bernard, five cats of assorted shapes and sizes, a Macaw parrot, outdoor fish and indoor fish. So many funny things happened with all that lot, you couldn't make it up! Truffles was Top Cat of the cat gang and I got to wondering what she thought of the things we humans do - from why we keep changing our clothes (when if we wore a sensible fur catsuit there would be none of that bother!) to why we do we cook and use so many different cutlery and crockery items and then moan about the washing up, when all cats need are one simple food and a water bowl! Pets must also wonder about puzzling things like glass windows or doors etc. Cats, of course, think they are far superior to dogs and us and that's why I thought I would put myself into Truffles' head' and try to think of her reactions! The result was her diaries taking us through her thoughts of living with humans and also her recall of the funny and true things that happened with all our pets!”
The first three books in the Truffles series (later combined into an omnibus volume entitled Truffles Diaries) were about life on land. However, in the fourth book, Truffles goes to sea. That book arose out of a conversation Ms. Collins had with one of the officers on Celebrity Eclipse who had read Truffles' Diaries and knew that Ms. Collins was a writer.
“He said why didn't I write a book about cruising as I had been on so many cruises? [Furthermore,] he said all you seemed to see in bookstores were books about the Titanic - - nothing much about the palaces on the seas that we have today. I said yes, easy peasy. But I write humour and, although I've seen lots of funny things happen on cruise ships, a cruise isn't exactly a 'laugh a minute' job. So that's when I thought I'd write about going on a cruise through Truffles' eyes!”
Following the success of the Truffles cruise book, Ms. Collins wrote another book told from the perspective of a cat going on a cruise. However, the narrator in this book was Misty, another of Ms. Collins' cats.
“The first cruise book by Truffles was a blow by blow daily account of a two week cruise to the Mediterranean. Truffles' aim on the ship was just to eat well and relax - - as she did during all her long life of 19 years! When the book proved popular, people said I should write another. [However], because the day to day procedures on a cruise ship are much the same wherever you are traveling, I couldn't have Truffles saying the same things [over again] - so Misty, having a totally different personality from Truffles, took over the narration. She was a petite and mischievous little cat, eager to explore the ship. This time the trip was to the Baltic cities and Misty, though initially rather nervous about being on a ship surrounded by water, investigated many more places on the ship than did Truffles. She was still a little timid at times, but in her follow up book, the trip was to The Azores and The Canaries and this time she wasn't in the least nervous, much more confident and sounded out even more aspects of the cruise!”
Ms. Collins latest book, Miaow There, It's Still Misty Out At Sea, is a sequel to the first Misty cruise book. “My objective in writing a second book with Misty was to get her describing even more places and activities available on the ship to give readers, especially those who have never been on a cruise, an even better idea of life on board.”
As she mentioned above, Ms. Collins writes humor. Her cruising books are therefore lighthearted and are designed to raise a smile. However, inasmuch as Ms. Collins is an experienced cruiser and they contain keen observations about the cruising life as well as humanity in general.
Ms. Collins books are available from the publisher Apex Publishing or from Amazon.co.uk or Amazon.com.
CLICK HERE FOR A REVIEW ALL AT SEA WITH TRUFFLES
CLICK HERE FOR A REVIEW OF MIAOW THERE IT'S MISTY AT SEA
CLICK HERE FOR A REVIEW OF MIAOW THERE IT'S MISTY AT SEA
Cruise People - - Sheila Collins