The Pacific Ocean: No time to stop and chat

 |   |  2 min read

The Pacific Ocean: No time to stop and chat

She was what my mother would have charitably described as "unfortunate". I saw her first on the Promenade Deck as the ship slipped its lines and slowly headed for the open sea.

She was standing alone, but even in a crowd she would have been hard to miss: overweight, in her 30s at a guess, her dark hair pulled tight at the temples and hanging in a long and unruly ponytail, thick glasses, a sour expression on her round face . . . I thought of my mother's description -- then thought no more of her.

We were -- some 1200 of us happy travellers plus 600 crew -- on a 10 day cruise to Vanuatu and New Caledonia aboard the Pacific Sky, a ship I once knew as the Fairsky but now refitted to traipse lazily around the Pacific offering an affordable holiday-cum-escape.

The passengers on this cruise may have been typical: the aged, the infirm and the chronically obese who would find air travel uncomfortable if not impossible. But there was also, to my surprise, a large number of young people who partied on the deck until well after the rest of us -- worn out by sleeping in the sun, swimming, eating and reading -- had made for our cabins. The mood afloat was relaxed and friendly.

By day there were deck games and competitions, and every night there was entertainment from the band, the DJ or the energetic dance company in the stateroom. There were talent quests and karaoke, a 24 hour pizza parlour and a cinema. At meals in the two dining rooms -- the Savoy and the Regency -- or at the Outback Grill on the deck you would find yourself seated next to former strangers and would inevitably chat.

I chatted with lively and good humoured senior citizens from Otaki and Dunedin, Oamaru and Christchurch, and young people from the North Shore and Melbourne. And as you lolled by one of the two pools, lay around on the expansive deck under a clear canopy of blue, or sat in one of the many bars you would also chat with fellow travellers.

Late one afternoon with Auckland many hundreds of kilometres and a couple of carefree, sun-tanned days behind us I went to check my e-mails in the internet centre by the library.

I had a little trouble logging on and a typically helpful crew member rebooted the terminal. Behind me a woman began to complain that she couldn't get onto the website she wanted, so the young man moved on to help her. He couldn't figure out the problem so asked if she would try another terminal. She did but again couldn't get onto the site she wanted.

He was apologetic but she was becoming increasingly annoyed.

He tried again and failed, her frustration turned to anger and the small room filled with palpable tension. He politely asked whether this website had download potential because the company didn't allow for access to such sites.

No, said the woman with a bark. And then she demanded to know why the company didn't warn people of this before they purchased their access code number.

The man remained polite, but the woman turned nasty and whining. When she explained the nature of the site she was trying to log on to he had the unhappy task of telling her the company didn't allow for access to such sites either.

Away she went: passengers deserved better and should be told this; she had wasted her time and money; she was being made to feel it was her fault because the company probably wouldn't give her a refund . . .

I, like the others in the room, turned to see who was making the fuss. And I suspect we all shared a single thought.

Why, when you are on a boat of 1200 people with get-together nights and a friendly camaraderie where people ate, talked and danced with previous strangers would you want to get into a chat room?

Do what everyone else does on board. Just chat.

She was even more unfortunate than I first thought.

Share It

Your Comments

post a comment

More from this section   Travels articles index

Southwest Pacific: The Lonely Sea and the Sky

Southwest Pacific: The Lonely Sea and the Sky

The day before our Pacific cruise a brief news item caught my attention: a volcano in Vanuatu was spewing ash and thousands of villagers were being evacuated amidst fears of a major explosion.... > Read more

Vancouver Island, Canada: Cocktails by the highway

Vancouver Island, Canada: Cocktails by the highway

My Canadian friend Bob would often tell me that there was a highway right outside his house, and then he’d laugh loudly. I didn’t think that was a laughing matter -- until I went to his... > Read more

Elsewhere at Elsewhere

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Gooding of The Map Room

THE FAMOUS ELSEWHERE QUESTIONNAIRE: Simon Gooding of The Map Room

Simon Gooding is one half of The Map Room whose debut album All You'll Ever Find has impressed Elsewhere. He is a graduate of School of Audio Engineering and that was where he met fellow Map Room... > Read more

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

THELONIOUS MONK; THE LIFE AND TIMES OF AN AMERICAN ORIGINAL by ROBIN D.G. KELLEY

In late November 1963, a 5000 word profile of Thelonious Monk was scheduled to appear in Time magazine. Monk was to be the cover. An interviewer and jazz aficionado Barry Farrell from Time had... > Read more