Part 1: Sharing marItime memories
Recently I read a British publication on ocean liners and came across an article telling of a group of retired British maritime employees that get together for "Maritime Memories" on a trans-Atlantic crossing to England on my favorite ship, the Discovery.
I looked into the organization and found their meetings were also open to the public. I booked a cabin. I really didn't know what Maritime Memories was really all about, but was about to find out.
On May 2, I flew to Nassau, in the Bahamas. Discovery World Cruises arranged for a representative to meet me at the airport for the transfer to the ship. I checked into the Discovery, was shown to my cabin to my cabin, unpacked and went straight to bed -- it was midnight.
I love the ship Discovery because it is the embodiment of all the aspects and features I want in a cruise ship. It is of sufficient size to be a proper ocean liner and at the same time provides the club-like atmosphere I enjoy. The vessel accommodates only 600 guests in uncrowded comfort. You may remember the ship and its twin sister as the famous "Love Boat" that ran on TV for 11 years.
We sailed May 3 from Nassau, headed for Bermuda. During our time at sea, I became acquainted with the group belonging to Maritime Memories. I discovered these 150 people get together once each year. On this trip they scheduled at least 15 one-hour sessions, featuring guest Maritime speakers and film showings of famous passenger ships of the past. Des Cox, who produced and directed the famous ocean liner series for television, heads the organization.
These members of Maritime Memories had all been employed within the shipping industry as officers, able seaman, waiters etc. One maritime session featured a P&O Ferries captain of 26 years on the Dover to French Channel ports. He spoke of the profession of a sea captain and its various duties and challenges. There are some 70 daily departures from Dover, to give you an idea of the traffic on this service.
Another session introduced a nice lady of at least 85 years of age, whose father had been the fourth officer on the liner Carpathia in 1912. He was the radio operator who received the SOS from the Titanic. This was the message that caused the Captain to turn his ship to meet the Titanic. They arrived after the ship had sunk but picked up the 700-some survivors from the lifeboats. She told of the actions taken on Carpathia to house and feed the rescued as they sailed to New York.
Our first port of call was Hamilton, Bermuda.
I call it the jewel of the Atlantic. Located 600 miles off the U.S. East Coast, it has a population of 68,000, housed in colonial-style homes painted in pinks, grays and whites. Bermuda is, in fact, not a single island, but an archipelago of some 150 islands, curving round like a scorpion with its tail in the air. Causeways and bridges link seven principal islands and give the impression of one lush body of land. This prosperous mid-Atlantic British colony abounds in more than 1,000 varieties of flowers and plants, which fill the yards and line the roads. I had been here once before many years ago, but had forgotten how beautiful and tranquil it was. Bermuda is blessed with magnificent weather year-round.
Part 2 of "A cruise to remember" will appear in the June 13 Rim Review.