Saturday, January 22, 2011

About the cruise...

We recently returned from a cruise. Thirty minutes out - thirty minutes home. A unique accomplishment in view of the fact that Indianapolis is several hundred miles from the nearest cruise port.

Actually, we went aboard the SS Titanic, complete with boarding passes. And survived although our boarding passes reflected individuals who may or may not have survived the April 1912 sinking of the 'unsinkable' White Star Line vessel

The visit to the Indiana State Museum afforded us a unique opportunity to see over two hundred relics from the ship. I remain amazed that so many seemed in good shape after decades in the deep sea bed. I was particularly surprised that things like letters and documents and suitcases survived. It was an awesome reminder that even the best designed, most luxurious ship of the time had it's weaknesses and perhaps faults. But the most amazing part of all was that for almost 100 years the legend of the Titanic remains as vivid today as it was in 1912.

Back in 1956, when I was in the Air Force supporting elements of the Royal Netherlands Air Force, I received orders to head home. After a stormy North Sea crossing to England, I caught the boat train from London to Southampton to board the amazing flagship of the United States
Lines, the United States. I had never sailed aboard a ship before so my inaugural voyage was an amazing experience. Especially so since I was sent back First Class. As a Staff Sergeant I was completely out of my domain, sailing with the Lord Mayor of London and movie star Robert Taylor. It was formal dress in the dining room - and luxury beyond my understanding.

This was also unique in the sense that my sailing dates coincided with the schedule of the Titanic. We were at sea off Canada at the same time the Titanic struck an iceberg and sank with thousands of lives lost. There was time to reflect on the tragedy and I have never forgotten the coldness of the seas and weather, and thought of the horror of the 1912 sinking.

Since my first sailing in 1956, We have sailed a lot of waters aboard a lot of ships. A few were old and decrepit - most were luxury liners. Every sailing has reminded me of the vastness and loneliness of the open seas. Especially around Alaska where we have sailed amidst icebergs and occasional rough seas (I remember 30 foot seas off Sitka one time - high enough that we had sea water coming through our latched porthole. And I became enthralled with cruising.

I'm sure glad to have see the Titanic display. It was a vivid reminder that sometimes the best laid plans of man are doomed to failure. But we grow from the reminders over the years.

1 comment:

  1. Bruce, this is terrific -- what a stirring commentary on a visit to a museum! Thanks so much for sharing your reflections. Wisdom is all over you my brother!