I thought it was time I bought to you another photograph, and tales, from my ‘Cruising in the Past’ collection.
Here I am in the playroom onboard Orcades in 1968. Just incase you were wondering, Im the one with long blonde hair! Nice bright orange suit hey? I obviously had an eye for fashion even at that young age. I seem to recall that ‘Library Time’ was at around 3 o’clock in the afternoon, and it would be my guess that I was selecting a ‘Milly, molly, Mandy’ book from what looks like a vast selection. i never read the books, I just liked the pictures and made up my own stories. you can also see a chalboard and some chalk so that must have been another daily activity. We always did sewing as well, nothing fancy just different coloured rows of cross stitch. the playrooms of the 60’s and 70’s onboard P&O were nothing like the facilities that they have today. There were no banks of computers, or games consoles. No video screen walls or choices of what we wanted to do when we wanted to do it. Things were very much more regimented back then, much more like being at school – and I hated it! I would screem my head off every time I was left in the playroom. To me it was like prison because you couldnt get out. The door was the heaviest door in the world and the door handle was way out of reach, so once you were in you were in until meal time, or until Mum or Dad came to collect you. There would be a ‘painting time’ usually in the mornings and on the stroke of 11 we all had to sit cross legged on the floor and drink a glass of milk, horrible tasting long life milk at that, and a morning tea or arrowroot biscuit. you werent allowed up again until you had drank all the milk. I can recall outside deck areas on some of the ships and I pretty sure that Orcades was one of them. They had some see-saw type rocking things that you could get in and the more you see-sawed the more it would slide around the deck. The playroom closed at about 12.30 for lunch and after being collected by our parents we had to go to lunch in the main dining room. There were no self serve buffet areas or pizzareas back then. Once a cruise we might be treated to a deck buffet and it was always the highlight of the cruise.
At 3.00pm every afternoon the water level in the swimming pool would be lowered, and if you were brave enough to climb down the steep ladder steps inside the pool, you could get in for a swim. they also supplied rubber rings that really were rubber, I can recall the smell! I learnt to swim on one of the ships and recieved a certificate for it. I guess they didnt notice that I actually had one foot on the floor the whole time! If i timed it right I didnt have to go into the palyroom after swim time. I used to love to go into the changing rooms and put my swimming costume through the mangle. And there were big drying rooms, with racks to hang your clothes on to dry.
We werent posh enough to have ensuite facilities so would have to go down the corridor from the cabin to have a shower. Time it too late and you would end up queing for one of the showers as everyone prepared for the evening.
Childrens tea was served at 5.30pm in the main restaurant and it was a proper sit down doo, with menu. There was always jelly, and cottage pie that tasted of vinegar for some reason. then it would be quiet time in the playroom before it closed, and nine times out of ten I would be in bed well before Mum and Dad went out for the evening. I would get tucked up in bed with a can of lemonade, a packet of salt’n’shake crisps and of course my ‘Milly Molly Mandy’ book. Then I could lay there and listen to the cabin doors rattling, and watch the wardrobe doors swinging open and shut. Next thing I would hear would be the jingle of the cabin stewards keys on his belt, as he knocked on all the doors along the alley with tea, fruit juice and a biscuit the next morning. That was the closest thing you could get to room service!
So, what else can I recall about cruising as a child? I can remember being in the ships hospital onboard Canberra, my first ever cruise, with a fever. My Dads friend would bring me a Turkish Delight and a packet of fruit gums every day. His name was Jim. I always think of Canberra tuck shop when I see Rowntrees fruit gums and Frys turkish Delight because it was about all the stocked for years, along with Kit Kat, Smarties and Mars Bars. The tuck shop was on A deck Aft, on the opposite side of the deck to the A deck shop, and that only opened for an hour or so in the morning and afternoon. I can remember the gates across the prom deck that prevented you from going into first class. Sometimes when there werent enough children onboard for a party or fancy dress party, we would go with the playroom to ‘the other side’!
Bridge visits were always the best fun. remeber that this is back in the day when hi-tech walkie talkies and the like hadnt been invented, and on the lookout deck above the bridge there would be one of those brass connecting funnel type hose things that the man up top on watch would should down instructions to the bridge below. They made great dispensing devices for smarties and we would all stand underneath the communication device trying to catch the smarties as the officer up top pored them down to us.
I think thats enough of a tip down cruise memory lane for now, but I though I would leave you with this picture of my lovely daughter Lizy. Here she is onboard her 3rd cruise in September 1991 shaking hands with Captain Rory Smith, onboard Canberra at the ‘Coketail Party’. Isnt she adorable? Lizy always referred to Rory Smith as Captain BirdsEye
Lizy is all grown up now, aged 20, and has recently been managing childrens activity centres across the UK and is just about to depart for he next career move working at a ski resort in Megeve, France. Some of you might have spoken to her at some point, as she has been known to offer a helping hand at GoCruisewithJane towers on busy booking days.
Maybe next time I will tell you about the childrens facilities that were available when I cruised with my own yound family in the 90’s. Plus Im Sure I still have lots to tell you about cruiseing in the 60’s & 70’s