Cruising, 1950s Style

Text: Barbara Wall

Image: SA Maritime Museum

It seems to be the thing to do in 2020. I keep reading about cruise ships – and their disasters! It has made me think back to my adventures in 1954 when I went by ship from Adelaide to England. Our ship, the Orcades, took a month to make the journey, and as I remember, it seemed a very long month. Although we made friends, read books, played tennis and cards, went for long walks round and round the deck, most of our time seemed to be spent sitting on deck, looking at what there was to be seen – sea, sea, sea. Occasionally land, or another ship, could be seen in the far distance, but most of the time we looked at unending water, birds flying alongside us, and every now and then, a flying fish.

S.S. Orcades

Of course this was not really a cruise. This was the accepted way of travelling to England. We got off every time the ship stopped, to see what we could see of other parts of the world, and this was rewarding and satisfying. Nevertheless after the initial excitement of a sea voyage, life on the ship was pleasant but not exciting. There was not much except sitting and eating.

We were intent on getting to England. We were not on the ship to amuse ourselves. But we did want to find out about other parts of the world. It was very satisfying to go to Colombo, to go through the Suez Canal and the Mediterranean, to see for ourselves places we had read about and heard about. But we did not stop long enough to get more than a superficial sense of these places.

I expect people in 2020 going on cruises would look very differently at the whole experience. They would probably be going shorter distances and staying long enough in each place to make some real contact with civilisations a little different from their own. But certainly my experience of going to England and returning by ship has cured me for ever of wanting to go on a cruise.                                                                  

Read Elisabeth Anderson’s story about her sea voyage in our Migration topic

Do you have stories or memories of long sea voyages to or from Australia or even a story about the current dilemma of cruise ships and COVID-19 ?

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