“May God bless this ship,and all who sail in her”
The families of my parents lived in and around Portsmouth, in England. I suppose I grew up with salt water in my nose. I was born under Pisces which might too have had some influence for my love and respect for the seas.
As a child I would stand on the shingle beach near my Grandmothers house and watch them steaming up and down the Solent. I knew them all,-the old dames of the Cunard Line,”The United States”, and the beautiful “France ”
I knew which held the Blue Riband, and I dreamed of the day when I would sail in one.
My first real encounter with such a ship was when my Fathers’ big brother Jim went back to Cape Town on the “Union Castle”. POSH it was in those days, PortOut, StarboardHome. The position of the sun in relation to the cabin was particularly important on that route. No air conditioned cabins then.
We were invited on board for lunch which impressed me incredibly, almost as much as when I saw how Uncle Jim ripped a bank note of the size I had never set eyes on before in half and gave one bit to their Steward,with the words that the other half would come in Cape Town if they were satisfied.
They played Gracie Fields’ “Now is the hour” as the streamer bedecked liner sailed out of Southampton,and if there were any eyes not wet with tears before there certainly weren’t after. Why they always played music that made the occasion worse than it already was I never could quite understand.The Germans did it too,there you got “Muss idenn” which is almost as bad.
I had to wait till I was twentyfive before my dream came true. Then I stood on the deck of Italy’s pride, the “Raffaelo”
and looked down at the quay in Genoa on my way to New York. I never got to sail out of Southampton.
Like many things the days of those magnificent passenger ships are gone. There are now “cruise” ships and the latest left dry dock in Turku ,Finland a few days ago. It is called the “Independence of the Seas”, belongs to the Royal Caribbean International Line. It will be “Christened” at it’s base in Southampton next May.
The “Independence”will be the largest cruiser with a home port in Europe. She will fly the Bahamian Flag,and will be one of the three biggest cruise ships of the day.
A few facts:
– Stood on it’s bug with her 339 meters in length, the “Indepedence”would be taller than the Chrysler Building in NYC (319m) and the Eiffel Tower (300m)
-With her 56m width she is broader than The White House is long (51m)
-She weighs 158,000 tons
-The ships theater can seat 1350 people
-The fitness center only has one boxing ring,but that can fit into it 62 times.
-The Royal Promenade in the center of the ship is longer than a football field
-Passengers will be able to ride their surf boards hundreds of miles out to sea on a10m wide and12m long Surf Simulator with a wavelike water current functioning with a capacity of 129,000 liters of water/min.
-Unfortunately the ice rink stadium only seats 760 people
-It has 15 passenger decks,with 14 lifts
-It travels at 21.6 knots.
-The “Independence” carries 4375 passengers,and has a crew of1360.
It is small compared to the next ship that has already been ordered at the Aker-Finnyards Wharf and which should be sea worthy in 2009.