Featured Image:  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith.  Artwork by Tel Jenkins

Another first and what a fabulous one

I’ve been lucky to have been involved in many Ceroc firsts.  These include the first Fresh Weekender in Perth, the first Cutty Sark freestyle, the first O2 Mega freestyle and the first i360 event in Brighton.  Each was a great success and I enjoyed writing reviews of them all.  Back in July, I was lucky to get a cabin on board the first-ever Ceroc River Cruise that set sail from Bordeaux in South West France for a leisurely trip up the River Gironde and its tributaries the rivers Garonne and Dordogne.

While Ceroc has run many cruises before, these have been aboard large sea-going vessels where they took a limited number of cabins on large ships.  There might have been three hundred Ceroc dancers but they were sharing it with several thousand other people.  What made the River Cruise different and ultimately a resounding success was that Ceroc had exclusive use of the entire boat and that meant you mixed with one hundred and sixty like-minded people.

The cruise was run by Fusion Holidays, who have worked with Ceroc on their previous sea cruise dance holidays.  Fusion Holidays is run by the most wonderful of hosts, Harry Lightfoot, but we knew him simply as Harry.  The boat Harry chose for the Cruise was Croisi Europe’s beautifully decked out river cruiser the Cyrano de Bergerac.

We loved so many things about this holiday

Whenever I write my Things we loved about reviews, I spend a lot of time asking people what they enjoyed about the event.  For this review, I got so much feedback, particularly from the WhatsApp group where we shared pictures and comments, that I’ve had to work hard to edit the list down to just twenty.  I’m sure the twenty things I’ve chosen to highlight will give readers a sense of the great time we all had, but I also hope that they give the people on the cruise a memory of the things they loved about it too.

We were lucky to be accompanied on the trip by photographer Mike Smith, who has worked with Ceroc on many of their major events including Weekenders and dance holidays.

I’ve used Mike’s pictures many times before in my reviews as he has a great knack of capturing the joy we all feel while dancing.  Mike has provided three albums of photos taken on board and on the excursions and captured so many wonderful memories for us all.  I’ve put a link at the end of the review so you can view the entire set of Mike’s wonderful photographs and see for yourself just how fabulous this holiday was.

Mike’s photos captured all the fun and joy.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

1: We ❤️ a holiday in the sun

While this was a dance holiday it was also a river cruise with all you would expect from gently drifting along a river in the South West of France in what was glorious weather.  It had everything you would expect from cruising on a top-rated cruise ship.  Some wonderful destinations and a chance to go on excursions to really get to know the local area and sights – more details of which later.

Another tradition of cruising is fine dining and as we’ll see we were treated to some fabulous French cuisine with 4-course meals on offer for both lunch and dinner.

Of course, what you want from any summer holiday is wall-to-wall sunshine, hot sunny days and sultry evenings.  We got it all, even if occasionally it was a little too hot, but it meant plenty of opportunities to lie back on the top deck as the boat glided gently along the river and do some serious sunbathing.  We loved that after dinner we could go up on deck and enjoy the warmth of the evening as the sun went down.

The sun sets over Bordeaux.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

2: We ❤️ meeting old and new friends

Ceroc is more than just dancing.  The golden rule that you can ask anyone to dance creates a wonderful social vibe that leads to making lots of friends.  The relatively small number of people on the cruise meant you got to dance with just about everyone over the six days.  The dining room was set up with large round tables seating six to ten people and you were free to sit with different people for every meal.  Everyone was so friendly and it meant you couldn’t help but meet and make new friends.

It was also a chance for people to meet up with old friends too.  I was surprised to meet up with several couples I’d met on my previous dance holiday in Majorca back in May as well as quite a few I’d met on my dance travels.  People came from every part of the UK and I wasn’t the only one catching up with old friends.

The bar area in the main dance room was another place to catch up with friends

3: We ❤️ the Ceroc Crew

The limited numbers and the fact we had the boat to ourselves created a wonderful intimacy and this meant that you were constantly mixing with the Ceroc Crew.  We sat with them for meals, had drinks with them in the bar and had plenty of chances to dance with them.  They were the friendliest bunch.  What I particularly loved was the way they were there to greet us, resplendent in their pink Ceroc Cruise T-shirts, as we boarded.

Harry had put together a fabulous team of teachers and DJs made up of Lyndsey Hill, Sheena Assiph, Nicola Meechan di Folco and Barry Watson.  They were supported by hardworking Ceroc Bulls (more about them later) Myles Woodhouse, Andy Hill and of course Harry himself.  I should also give a mention to Rob Fearnett and Marcy Chivers who helped out with the DJing duties.

One of the wonderful ways the Crew interacted with us was when they took it in turns to host the Cocktail Club each night at twelve in the cosy bar at the rear of the boat.  One of my own Cocktail Club memories was sipping a Baileys on ice with Lyndsey chatting about the way Ceroc is actively promoting itself to a wider audience.

Sheena, Nicola, Harry and Myles get ready to greet everyone.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

4: We ❤️ the choice of classes

While people spent a lot of time on the excursions, taking a stroll on shore or simply sunbathing on deck, the classes were very well attended.  Harry had put together a comprehensive class list for those that wanted to improve their dancing.  They covered all levels and I was particularly pleased to see that Sheena ran three beginner-level classes.

At one evening meal, I found myself sitting with a couple who had only been dancing for a few months.  I know that they appreciated the attention they were given and it proves that these river cruises are ideal whatever your ability level.

The list of classes catered for so many different dance styles.  Lyndsey, aided as always by her demo Andy, did her well-loved Rock ‘n’ Roll and Double trouble classes.  I hope to find time to write a separate article about two of the dance teachers and their fabulous lessons.  Nicola put on three SILC classes.  In the past, these classes usually get progressively more difficult, but Nicola made them all very doable, and I’m proud to say that I’ve worked through all three class videos and I’ve cracked every move – now there’s a first.

The other classes I want to write more about are those run by Barry and his demo Sarah.  Barry’s classes were best described as ones with Blues influences but more importantly where the follower has plenty of opportunities to express their own musicality.  Sarah take a bow – your expressive dancing was quite inspirational.  Again I’ve been working through the videos and they’ve given me so many new doable moves for when I’m dancing to chilled-out sounds.

Barry teaching with demo Sarah.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

5: We ❤️ the dancing

Of course, this was first and foremost a dance holiday and the dancing was fabulous.  For me, a fabulous dance needs some great music but more importantly a partner you are perfectly connected with.  My dancing has never been about doing complicated moves, it is more about having a smooth expressive dance and that’s when you notice just how good your partner is.

Like any dance holiday, there were dancers of all ability levels but I’ve got to say that there were some wonderful lady dancers on this trip and I enjoyed some fabulous dances.  Speaking with the ladies, they also talked about the fabulous men they danced with and in between dances, I sat and watched some wonderful dancing.

Harry had realised that the main inside dance floor wouldn’t be big enough, considering the number of dancers on board, so a temporary dance floor was laid around the ship’s own (see pic below).  The result was that we had more than enough space for the lessons and the night-time dance session that were held here.

You can the temporary dance floor laid around the boat’s own.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ dancing on the top deck

There is something this event had that guaranteed we had a wonderful time and that was the chance to dance outside on the top deck.  One of my greatest joys has been the outside dancing at the Ceroc Southport weekender, particularly after the sun has gone down.  This dance holiday was able to offer plenty of outside dancing and it seemed everyone loved the late-night sessions where we could enjoy dancing in cooler temperatures on the top deck.

All the river boats that operate in this part of France have the top deck set out for sunbathing, including a covered area where people can relax out of the sun.  Sadly none have outside dance areas.  Knowing that everyone would want the opportunity to dance outside, Harry arranged for a temporary dance floor to be laid under the awning.

I’ll write a little more about the logistics of providing these two temporary dance floors in item 18.  Lessons also took place on the top deck and we enjoyed some wonderful afternoon outdoor dancing sessions as the boat glided gently along the river.

Cooling down with some top deck nighttime dancing.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

6: We ❤️ the music mix

Fabulous dancing needs fabulous music and Harry’s provision of six DJs ensured that we got to dance to a great variety of music.  I’ve danced many times to Nicola and Sheena’s music at Southport and during my many dance trips to Scotland.  They have both built enviable reputations for their main room and chill-out music.  Lyndsey also has Southport credentials and I’ve enjoyed her music at several smaller weekenders.

I’d never danced to Barry music on my travels, so I was interested to see how he mixed it up.  Like his fellow DJs, he provided a great mix of music, much of it new to me but all very danceable.  It’s a hard gig for a DJ to please all of the people all of the time and people are quick to complain particularly if the music is the Same old, same old but I heard nothing untoward about the music we danced to.

I should also give a mention to Rob and Marcy who filled in any gaps between the main DJ slots.  Marcy already has Southport SILC Zone experience and after enjoying one of Rob’s sets I can see that he is destined for a Southport debut soon.  My congratulations to Harry, then, for putting together such a top team of DJs.

Nicola DJs a night-time set in the inside dance hall.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

7: We ❤️ the Speciality Hours

One thing that ensured we had a great mix of dance music was the Speciality Hours that were put on immediately after dinner.  Regular readers of my blog will know that the Motown and Funk hours at the Southport weekenders are my own favourites, so I was pleased to see that Sheena was doing a Motown hour.  This session was very well attended and needless to say, Sheena smashed it.  Well, any DJ who plays Barbara Randolph’s I got a feeling will always get a thumbs up from me.

The other Speciality Hours were Lyndsey’s Argentine Tango and the ever-popular Swingers Hour with Marcy on the decks.  For this sixty minutes of Swing and Rock ‘n’ Roll music, it was great to see lots of the ladies in their retro swing dresses.  Nicola got in the action with a Blues Hour and then on the last night a Country Hour.  These popular specialty hours ensured that we all guaranteed the music we enjoyed – no wonder then that so many people loved them.

Lyndsey leads the ladies in a Swingers Hour Stroll.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

8: We ❤️ the excursions and on-shore time

Sea cruises are known for their ports of call and associated excursions.  It was the same with this river cruise.  Harry had put together a comprehensive list of trips to picturesque and cultural sites to enrich our holiday experience.  They included trips to the seaside towns of Rochefort and La Rochelle, the famous Bordeaux wine-growing areas of Medoc and Saint Emilion (more about the wine later) and the historic Chateau de Roquetaillade with its medieval castle.

Mike accompanied everyone on these coach trips and his photo albums contain a comprehensive record of these wonderful days out (see link below).  I’ve chosen an image from Mike’s albums that I think captures the essence of these trips and not surprisingly I chose one from a visit to a vineyard.  Bordeaux, of course, is one of the most renowned red winemaking areas in Europe and I have to say that over the course of a week I have never enjoyed so much wonderful red wine.

This picture was taken at  Château La Croizille, a famous vineyard in the Saint Emillion Appellation.  Of course, no visit to a top vineyard would be complete without a taste of the fabulous wine.  While I wasn’t on this excursion I’m told that people loved the wine – now there’s a surprise.

Wine is poured ready for tasting at Château La Croizille.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ the excursion to Royan

A guided coach tour around the iconic city of Royan was included in our holiday and everyone it seemed got on the three coaches.  Our guide told us how this city was almost totally destroyed during World War II and then rebuilt in a modernistic style in the ’50s and ’60s.  It is this modern architectural style that has given the city its UNESCO iconic status.

After the tour, we were given plenty of time to do our own thing.  Many of us headed for one of the gorgeous beaches but there was also a chance to visit the iconic cathedral.  please take a look at Mike’s collection of photos of this amazing modernist structure.  There was also plenty of time to explore the harbour with its shops, restaurants and cafes.

We got to spend time around the harbour at Royan.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ the cafe culture

France, of course, is known for its cafe culture and everywhere we stopped off there was an opportunity to sit and relax with a glass of wine or cup of coffee.  One day the boat stopped at Libourne.  Rather than go on the excursion many of us just wandered into the town and spent time sat outside a cafe in the main square relaxing in small groups of other dancers from the boat.

Here’s another photo from Mike’s albums.  It’s from the Saint Emilion excursion again.  It shows a group sat relaxing in the main square after their wine-tasting visit to the Château.  Every day we were blessed with warm weather and sat outside a cafe, watching the world go by, was a wonderful way to spend our on-shore time.

Just chillin’ out in the square at Saint Emilion.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

9: We ❤️ Bordeaux

For many people, the on-shore destination loved the most was Bordeaux, the start and finish of the cruise.  I had no idea what a truly beautiful city this is, so I was pleased that I chose to arrive a day early so I could visit some of its wonderful sights and cultural landmarks while lapping up its sophisticated and relaxed atmosphere.  I mentioned earlier that we were blessed by beautiful weather and my own highlight of Bordeaux was enjoying a glass of wine on a warm afternoon at a bar in the square by the Opera House.

Other people also added days before or after the cruise to take in the sights of this UNESCO-rated world heritage city.  Harry also organised two excursions.  One during the day and the other at night time.  I won’t begin to explain the beauty of this city as Mike’s photos (see link below) do it more justice than my writing ever could.

I’ll just feature a photo from my own personal photo album.  It shows me standing in front of the historic Bell Tower Gate of the Old City.  The narrow street leading up to the gate is populated with many cafes and bars.  Sat there having a meal before I boarded the boat is another fond personal memory.  I know that everybody on this cruise will have their own wonderful memories of this historic French city.

Enjoying Bordeaux before I board the River Cruise

10: We ❤️ the food and wine

Whenever I speak to people about sea cruises they always mention the wonderful food.  It was the same on this river cruise with added French finesse.  The French love their food and the onboard kitchen staff were determined to show off their fine dining culinary skills.  In our cabins, we had a TV that had a dedicated channel giving details of the excursions and menus for lunch and dinner (see pic below).

The food was fabulous and served by very attentive waiters.  There was plenty of time between courses and each meal was something of an event.  At dinner each evening Harry would update us on the excursions and activities for the following day.

I should also show my appreciation for the wine.  Every bottle of wine, whether red or white was from the Bordeaux region.  As a wine enthusiast, I have to say that every wine we were served was fabulous.  On one of the evenings before dinner we were treated to a talk about the wines of Bordeaux and given a chance to taste three of them.  Just for those who like to know these things, the main grape of Bordeaux reds is Merlot.

Details of our evening meal on the in-cabin TV

We ❤️ the attention to detail

The dining experience on the Cyrano de Bergerac was at times very impressive with so much attention paid to the little details.  Before each meal time, we were invited into the dining room over the ship’s loudspeaker system piped into our cabins with details of the menu.  On the final night, the waiters made a great thing of our Baked Alaska, parading it with sparklers around the tables.  I have never seen such a fuss made about pudding.

I give you Baked Alaska.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ the napkin folding demo

One particular attention to detail was the way the napkins were displayed.  I normally just fold them but it seems there are more interesting ways they can be presented.  One night the napkins were folded to depict a formal suit jacket (see pic below).  How did they do that?  Everyone at my table was captivated as our waitress showed us just how they were folded.  I was so impressed that I had to take a picture.  I’m sure everyone could tell you a story about some attention to detail they experienced on this holiday.

The napkins on Gala night with the obligatory Bordeaux wine

11: We ❤️ that the Lionesses beat the Germans

One night our dinner coincided with the Ladies European Cup Final.  Harry kept us informed with the score and not surprisingly there was a great cheer when he announced they were one nil up.  Sadly he had to report a little later that the Germans had equalised but another cheer went up when the Lionesses scored in extra time.  When they held on to win 2-1 it was so wonderful to be part of a jubilant crowd cheering and table thumping.

I was later told this story by Murray, a proud Watford fan.  Arrangements were made for the game to be shown on the TV in the bar at the back of the boat.  He and a group of other rival football fans watched the game in their team’s shirts.  They were all very well behaved considering the rivalry between teams.

When dinner was called, Murray and a few others wanted to stay and watch the match, and they loved that the ship’s crew brought them platters of food so they didn’t have to completely miss out on dinner.  I tell this story because it illustrates the way the crew of the boat went out of their way to make this cruise the most wonderful experience.

The Lionesses celebrate the winning goal.  Photo from Sky match report

12: We ❤️ the chance of fancy dress

Ceroc dancers love any opportunity to get into fancy dress and it seemed that just about everyone found space in their suitcases for a French-themed night of dressing up.  I’m not really one for fancy dress but something told me I ought to make the effort and I’m so pleased I did, because come the night there were all manner of French-inspired costumes.

There were the obligatory French onion sellers with their berets and stripped T-shirts, famous French mime artist Marcel Marceau look-a-likes with their white-painted faces, quite a few French Maids and a whole list of characters from the TV series Allo, Allo.

Rene from Allo, Allo prepares to serve Napolean some wine.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ the French Maids.  Well, the boys did!

That’s crew member Myles posing as Rene from Allo, Allo.  I too went as this lovable character from Allo, Allo complete with stick-on mustache.  Of course no cast of Allo, Allo would be complete without some French Maids and there were plenty of them.  Suddenly a group found each other and posed for the camera – a nice memory for the boys!

 

Just 5 of the gorgeous French Maids

We ❤️ the Group photos

As I mentioned before, this cruise had an intimacy that came from having the boat to ourselves.  That intimacy helped bond us all into one big happy family and this is shown in the many group photos that Mike took (see link to his photo albums below). Before the Fancy Dress dinner, Harry asked us all to convene at the back of the boat and Mike did his best to take a group photo.  It wasn’t easy to see the people at the back, so he asked everyone to hang over the side of the boat and he quickly dashed down to the quayside.

Even though you’ll have to blow the picture up to recognise anyone, I feel this photo, with everyone in fancy dress, captures the sense of belonging to a group of friendly like-minded people.  Trying to find myself in the picture was a bit like doing Where’s Wally but this image is a fabulous souvenir of a great night of fun and laughter.

Can you see me, Mum?  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

13: We ❤️ getting dressed up

Another tradition of sea cruising is getting dressed up to sit down for dinner with the Captain.  This tradition is followed on river cruises too and we loved getting dressed up in all our finery. Seeing all the posh frocks and elegant gowns, I did wonder how everyone managed to get them into their cases along with the fancy dress costumes and stay under the 20kg weight limit.

The other thing we loved was the fact that Mike photographed everyone before they sat down for dinner.  Now I have to be careful when I select an example of these photos because not everyone likes their photo splashed across the internet, so I’ve picked one with Harry, Lyndsey and a rather dubious character who wanted another go at fancy dress.  Nice one Andy – you always manage to raise a smile.

Was that Charlie Chaplin or Andy Hill?  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

14: We ❤️ sharing all the photographs

When you’re having a great time you just want to tell all your friends about it.  Social media was awash with people sharing their photos along with comments about the fab time they were having.  I think it’s great that we tell our friends what a great time we’re enjoying as it’s a great way of promoting our wonderful dance life to non-dancers.  I’ve written many times that our dance community is only sustainable if we can attract new people to it.  Sharing photos from this holiday was a great way to do it.

It was also a great way to promote any future River Cruises.  This comment I got from a friend who saw a picture of the dancing on the top deck was typical of so many:

Wow, this looks fabulous.  How do I book for next year?

I’ll have some news about next year later, but before I finish this item I want to give another shout-out for Mike’s photos.  Once they came out they were also shared across social media.  They are a wonderful advert for this holiday and it gives me an excuse to feature another one from the fancy dress night.  Seeing a man with a chicken on his head is always going to help promote this dancing life.

That’s DJ Rob with the chicken on his head.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

15: We ❤️ Harry

The fun we had on this dance holiday was down to all the Ceroc Crew and our fellow dancers but none of it would have happened without the gritty determination of one man – Harry and we loved him for it.  The cruise was originally due to take place in May of 2020 but like everything fell victim to the Covid Lockdown.  You could have understood if Harry had given up on the idea but knowing that so many people had been looking forward to it, he resolutely found a way to do it this July.

This was no easy gig for Harry.  As we’ll see in Item 18 he was heavily involved in the setting up and while we were all having a good time he was ensuring that any problems were quickly sorted out and everything ran smoothly.  We all could see just how hard he was working and it was wonderful when a group got together to arrange a surprise show of appreciation.

The group, led by DJ Rob Fearnett rewrote the lyrics to Rod Stewart’s Maggie May.  They printed a copy off and discreetly went round every table so we could photo the words onto our phones.  Rob then played the backing track and everyone burst into song:

Wake up Harry, we think we’ve got something to say to you.

It’s late at the airport and we really should be getting on the criuse.

I’d love to have space to reproduce all the words as they show a real appreciation of what Harry did to get this cruise afloat (excuse the pun). Harry was genuinely surprised and there was a great feeling of warmth towards him for what he achieved.  There’s just space to reproduce the chorus.

You brought us all down to Bordeaux, Now we all say ‘Bonjour’ not ‘hello’.

The questions keep coming, but the hairdryer works just fine.

You had to be part of the River Cruise WhatsApp group to appreciate the hairdryer joke, but let’s just say it was a little bit of hilarity that added even more fun to this amazing dance holiday experience.

Everyone shows their appreciation of Harry’s determination to ensure we all had a fab time

16: We ❤️ all the boat crew

One of the wonderful things about this cruise was that due to the size of the boat we got to interact with all the boat’s crew.  On the first night, we were formally introduced to them all and while I instantly forgot all their names and ranks, we slowly got to know them over the following days.  They were all extremely friendly and very attentive.  The waiters and waitresses deserve a particular mention as nothing was too much trouble for them at meal times.

Having said that I want to pick out three particular members of the boat’s crew who were front and central to so much of the onboard experience.  The first was Henri, the boat’s Purser.  Henri managed everything to do with the meal times but was also on hand at the reception to offer answers to any questions.  One day I couldn’t face another four-course lunch, and so Henri had a platter of bread and cheese brought to me on the upper deck to enjoy with yet another glass of delicious Bordeaux wine as the boat glided along the river.  Now, that’s what you call service.

The Captain (left) and Henri (right) pose with three ladies on Gala Night

We ❤️ Fatima and Loana

This cruise was all-inclusive and so the bar staff played a big part in our holiday.  The bar was run by Fatima, a Portuguese lady, with a warm bubbly personality.  Even at the busiest times, she served everyone with a smile.  I’ve also got to give a big shout-out to Loana, the boat’s entertainment manager.  Loana spoke fluent English and was on hand to translate when any of the boat’s crew needed help with announcements.  Her role was to ensure that everyone was kept fully informed of the day’s activities and her friendly voice often graced the in-cabin announcements about the menu for the upcoming meals.

On the last night, Fatima, Loana and some other crew members joined in the very last session of dancing and even joined us in the Survivor’s photo (see item below).  I was so pleased to see that Mike captured them both dancing with smiles on their faces.  But then there were a lot of smiles on the dance floor for that final session of dancing.  Perhaps we’d had too many of Fatima’s G&Ts or overindulged on the Bordeaux wine, but then perhaps it was just the joy of dancing and knowing how lucky we were to have got a ticket for this amazing dance event.

Nice move Loana and well followed Fatima.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

17: We ❤️ being a late-night survivor

Each night we got to dance on the open deck until midnight but the dancing downstairs in the main room went on until one.  On the final night, we were allowed to dance until two in the morning.  I have to give away a little secret here.  Come midnight I was struggling to keep awake (too much of that delicious red wine maybe) but I so wanted to make the Survivors’ photo, so I set the alarm for 1;15 and had a nap.

When I walked into the dance room I was greeted by a real party atmosphere and plenty of people, including the aforementioned boat crew, were still up for some serious dancing.  Properly refreshed, I had a wonderful last session of dancing to Sheena’s chilled music and proudly took my place in the back of the Survivor’s photo.  Oh, and can you spot Fatima and Loana?

Glad to see that Mike Smith (far left) got in on this auto photo.  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

We ❤️ the rowing boat thing

Sheena was on the decks for the last DJing set.  I think we all thought that the Survivors’ photo call was the last action but Sheena had other ideas.  She set up a final track on her laptop, hit the play button and went and sat down on the floor.  As people recognised the tune they knew what they had to do and they joined Sheena on the floor.  It was time for the rowing boat thing – well we were on a boat.

It’s a mystery who thought up the idea of doing the rowing boat thing to The Gap Band’s Oops up side your head but it has become a must-do party thing.  Now, I’ve seen this done many times before but never as good as Sheena led it.  The two rows did the actions perfectly synchronised and I was so pleased to see that Mike captured an image that says so much about the great fun we all had on this dance holiday.

Nice one Sheena.  Can you spot Fatima?  Photo courtesy of Mike Smith

18: We ❤️ the Ceroc Bulls

I should first explain who the Ceroc Bulls are.  They are a group of volunteers who help Myles Woodhouse set up the Ceroc Southport and Camber Sands Weekenders.  This involves setting up all the DJing and sound systems but one of the biggest tasks is laying the vast expanses of temporary dance flooring.  All the sound systems and flooring is kept in a container that is transported between the two Pontins sites.

I mentioned above that the only way the boat could accommodate so many dancers was to lay extra dance flooring in the main room.  More importantly, if we were going to be able to dance on the top open deck, a large section of flooring would have to be laid there.  The container was sited at Camber Sands after the recent Jamfest Weekender, so Myles and his team of Bulls drove two vans there and duly loaded up the equipment and flooring.

I found this pic on Facebook.  It shows Harry at the wheel of one van with his father-in-law Bruce and Barry Watson.  In the other van are driver Myles his partner Lorraine and Andy Hill.  Ahead of them was a two-day drive to Bordeaux and hours of work setting up the boat.  Without their heroic efforts this wonderful holiday would have been possible, so take a bow, guys.  We love you for what you did.

OK, that’s the vans loaded now let’s head to the ferry.  Selfie courtesy of Myles Woodhouse

19: We ❤️ giving feedback

When you have a wonderful time whatever you do, you can’t help thanking the people who put the event on.  Many businesses have to ask for feedback but Harry didn’t need to ask.  Everyone had such a fabulous time that the compliments were soon spontaneously spreading all over social media.  I, like so many other people, put something glowing on my own Facebook page.  I also wrote a brief favourable review in the Quick Notes section of this blog.

Here’s a comment I found on Facebook.  It says it all and the line, Everyone I spoke to said they had the best time and can’t wait for the next one, was one of the many comments that encouraged me to write this review in the way I have.

We ❤️ posting on the cruise WhatsApp Group

Another source of gushing comments was the WhatsApp group that we were all encouraged to join.  It was full of comments thanking Harry, his team and the crew of the boat for an amazing time.  There must have been almost a hundred glowing comments on the group chat.  I’ve picked out one from Joy.  Again, it says all that needs to be said about the fabulous time we all had.

I want to add one more comment I received.  I flew back to Luton Airport on the same plane as Mike Smith the photographer.  I found myself next to him in the queue at Passport Control.  Mike has been on most of the Ceroc holidays so his comment to me was particularly cmplimentary:

That holiday was off the scale.

Indeed it was and here are Joy’s words.  The line, It was also great to meet so many other dancers and then to go home with so many new friends, was another that encouraged me to write my review as I have.

20: We ❤️ the thought of doing it all again next year

Because I want to write about different holidays, I tend to only do them once as I’m always looking for the next one to experience.  However, I’m going to break the rule and look out for the 2023 River Cruise.  Not surprisingly I’m not the only one who wants to repeat the wonderful time we had.

The WhatsApp group chat was full of people wanting to know when and where next year’s one will be.  Add to those people the ones who saw what a great time their friends were having, and who now also want to get a ticket.  It’s going to need a bigger boat next time, Harry.

I asked Harry if there was any news about a River Cruise for next year.  It seems there have been some major challenges in trying to put together another river cruise and nothing has yet been decided.  Harry gave me this quote about his hopes for future cruises:

Cruising with Ceroc will sail again in 2023.  Whether it’s an ocean or river cruise has yet to be decided due to various issues out of our control.  However, whichever option we do not operate for 2023 will be back in 2024. Watch this space.

It would be a good idea to get on the Fusion Holidays email list so that when a river cruise is announced you won’t miss out.  I’ve put a link to the Fusion Holidays Website below.

My thanks again to all the people including Harry who helped me put this review together.  It took quite a while but I loved writing it as it brought back so many wonderful memories.

Related Links

Fusion Holidays Website

Mike Smith’s Photos

Enjoy another dance fix with my novel

If you enjoy reading my dance blogs, I’m sure you’ll love reading my novel, Would you like to dance?  It tells the story of how Ellie and her friends discover the joy that is partner dancing and finds the confidence to enter an amateur dance competition.  The story is full of the excitement and passion that I feel about dancing and I’m sure many people will recognise themselves in the ten characters that make up Ellie’s Newbie Dance Gang.  Here’s a little more about the storyline:

When Ellie Grant’s partner leaves her for a younger woman, her whole world crumbles. Not only does she lose her partner of almost ten years but she also loses her friendship group which cruelly stands by her ex-partner.

After several months of feeling sorry for herself, drinking a worrying amount of Australian red wine and going up a dress size, Ellie resolves to try and create a new life for herself.

This new life increasingly revolves around dancing and it’s not long before she finds herself at a Modern Jive dance class.

Why not visit the website I’ve designed to support the novel.  It is packed with background information on how I came to write Ellie’s story and reviews from the people who have already enjoyed it.  You also find whole sections dedicated to the joy that is Modern Jive dancing including photo galleries and videos showing the fun we all have on the dance floor.  You will also find a link to go direct to the Amazon Store to download the novel.  Go to Would you like to dance website.