As we enter into the dull days of January and February, with the bright lights of Christmas behind us, and colder weather ahead of us, many readers of the Community Contact continue to ask me about cruising and travelling, and why I haven’t been writing about my adventures as much.
The truth is that with a new grandson keeping me entertained, I haven’t been travelling as much, just the few odd trips to New York, Miami, and Toronto. As such, it was suggested to be me that I write about how I became interested in cruising and travelling. This is how it all began.
I can remember in 1967-68 being on one of the Cunard Ships in Kingston harbour by the Myrtle Bank Hotel in my multi-coloured island shirt along with 4 musicians singing a medley of Harry Belafonte’s “Day O”, “Island in the Sun”, and other tunes, on the highly polished wooden deck of a cruise ship. I do not recall its name, but I remember it was from the Cunard Shipping Line. We performed for a 3-day weekend, which seemed unending. We were not allowed to converse with the guests on board so that when they did speak to us we were told to smile and pretend that we did not speak English.
I hated being on board, but the money I made was way above what I earned on my regular job, so I stuck it out. In those days the cruise ships came from England and stayed in port for 5 days or so before returning to England. They employed local entertainers while in port so I would say my first time on a cruise ship was not my cup of tea. The guest and crew looked down on us as if we were begging; it was just not pleasant.
During our break, the ship officials appointed someone to sit with us so that there would be no one trying to stowaway. We had to ask permission to go to the washroom. I made a pledge to myself no cruise ship for me.
Forward 25 years, I found myself reluctantly agreeing to go on a cruise to Greece. Along with packing the usual items, I made sure to pack two dress suits, as I remember seeing all those well-dressed people on board and I was not going to look out of place.
We flew into Athens to board our Greek ship called the Olympia. This is a much smaller ship than your regular cruise ship; the capacity was only 750 passengers. On this very cute and speedy ship, the service was impeccable. I highly recommend checking out a smaller vessel for the ambiance and service, and as a bonus, because our ship was smaller and speedier, we were able to visit many more places than being on a larger ship.
Cruising, like flying, is not what it was 10-15 years ago. Security, of course, is much more rigid, and people are more casually dressed, looking as though they just left a backyard barbecue, dressed in shorts, shirts not tucked in, etc.
For those of us who are old enough to remember, it was the norm to board a plane in a suit, with the ladies in their Sunday best, unlike what is now the norm.
Of course, cruising and traveling are not about people’s lack of fashion sense but about treasured memories. This is why I continue to write these articles.