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With Reuben Goossens
With Reuben Goossens
Maritime Historian, Author, Cruise‘n’Ship Reviewer and Maritime Lecturer
Please Note: All ssMaritime and other related maritime/cruise sites are 100% non-commercial and privately owned. Be assured that I am NOT associated with any shipping or cruise companies or any travel/cruise agencies or any other organisations! Although the author has been in the passenger shipping industry since 1960, although is now retired but having completed well over 700 Classic Liners and Cargo-Passengers Ships features I trust these will continue to provide classic ship enthusiasts the information the are seeking, but above all a great deal of pleasure!
Orient Line / P&O Lines
Rick’s 1962 World Voyage
With Rick Danley
Sent in by a supporter but believed to have been taken by a Mr. Broughton
Monday August 6 -
Monday August 6 -Port Said.
As I recall, Oronsay had not bothered to tie up at a pier. In addition
she has only arrived an hour or so before us. We must cross a shaky makeshift
gangway placed atop several rocking barges to reach
the ship and enter through a door in D-deck of Tourist Class. Not the most
elegant of returns, my Mom still recalls her nervousness. We had passed Oronsay
during her transit though I don’t quite remember at what point. Mr. Fez
had been at the wheel. She was easy to spot. I am reminded of the moment every
time I see the
“Refreshments” are offered in the Dining Room. I go just to be polite, but don’t stay to listen to my Father rail about Mr. Fez. Just two flights of stairs up and I am through my cabin door. A walk down the hall finds me an empty shower where I stand for a long time. A real long time. I may even have tried sleeping on my feet. While already late, Oronsay won’t sail until a couple of hours after midnight. So, I am in no hurry to leave the cascading water. It doesn’t rejuvenate, it only washes away the layers of sand and sweat (though that certainly will do for now). Upon returning to my cabin, I switch off the lights, flop on the bed and fall immediately asleep.
But, not for long. My parents, before retiring, check on me. I could do without them awakening me or seeing me sprawled naked on my bed. However, they are comforted to find I am there and can rest themselves.
Of course, now I can’t sleep. I lie back in my darkened cabin
thinking about the day. Already, I am having conflicting emotions over Mr.
Fez. Everything is always so
Even though my energy level remains low, that short nap puts off any
real sleep for now. I force myself not to miss the sailing. Tonight, this
morning, I put on only deck pants and my dopey hat. I find Joey on his side of
A-deck. The heat here is so different than that of
Ashore, the atmosphere is raucous. There are strings of lights and lots of people. Everyone seems to be having a good time. It’s almost a carnival of sorts. Oronsay is moored right at the mouth of the canal. Smells and sounds intermingle. I try to imagine what it might be like. I fight an impulse to go down and see. It’s not too late to go ashore for a few minutes. Joey laughs at my idea. For some reason, he thinks it’s dangerous.
After Oronsay sails, Joey goes to bed and I climb to the Sun Deck. From
there I watch the stars, the ships,
Tuesday August 7.
It is still hot. The Mediterranean sun glares as brightly as all the
other suns. There’s a Table Tennis competition, light music,
children’s sports (not for me!), an Interest Talk on “Early Ships
The big news of the day, though? Word reached us that Marilyn Monroe had died.
Today’s Dinner Menu cover
The highlights of tonight’s menu:
Boiled ham - Boiled potatoes - Cauliflower in cream sauce. All a good reason for eating heartily at the Verandah luncheon buffet.
Wednesday August 8.
One week from today, my barefoot life ends. I rather dread its coming and not just because I will have to get used to
wearing shoes again (although I am now having serious difficulty imagining how
I will survive that part. How I wish I could go to school in
The Sun Deck is my new favorite place during the day as the pool is populated by people I hardly know. It’s a grand viewpoint overlooking the aft third of the ship. It gets more sun than anywhere. I’m always ready for a game of deck tennis though it’s often against adults now. Periodically, I run down to the pool, but don’t stay long. By and large, I’m on my own. Everyone my age who I’ve known well is gone, except, of course, for Joey who is spending the day preparing to debark. I’m sure I appear standoffish to the remaining kids aboard. But, there are factors they do not understand.
The film tonight is Make Mine Mink “with Marilyn Monroe”. Of course, the recently deceased Miss Monroe wasn’t in Make Mine Mink. I imagined whoever typed Today’s Events had a bad case of wishful thinking in an attempt to honor her.
I don’t attend the film anyway as there are fireworks portside as
A notice placed in Today’s Events
Thursday August 9 -
Oronsay is just docking when I get up. She will sail at
midnight. I had been to
Mom seen heading off for our first tour
view of the
In the afternoon, we go west of
At the top of Solfarara and one of the “hot” holes
I remember eating a snack at some tree shaded picnic tables. However, this was no idyllic spot. The sun was hot, the ground was hot, the smell unappetizing, the view hideous. Perhaps, Oronsay’s dining room wasn’t so bad after all. For once, I am glad to be wearing shoes.
wonderful view makes
We return to the ship for dinner and await the midnight sailing. With little to do until then, I watch the harbor and Vesuvius from above deck. A U.S. Navy destroyer departs at sunset to the strains of “Sentimental Journey” played by a brass band. My dad recognizes the song, and finds it a humorous choice. The wit, however, goes over my head.
Midnight is Oronsay’s last true
departure from a port. I have not missed one yet. I am rather mournful. I
wonder when I might ever see such a sight again. All departures until now have
been exciting. But, tonight’s is different. Instead of seeing the lights
Sitting in the shelter on the Sun Deck, I listen to Oronsay. The sound of the sea is neutralized by a mechanical hum, or even, whoosh, originating from deep within the ship. Glumness weighs heavily. For seven weeks, I had escaped the rigidity of the real world. Now, I had to prepare myself for the return.
Friday August 10.
There are still a few days left to enjoy. Today’s Interest Talk is on “Marine Monsters”. “Mozart’s Four Overtures” (which “Four” are not noted) and “Scherazade” are the day’s recorded pieces. There’s Housie at 5:00, and party games followed by dancing in the Ballroom commencing at 9:15. The “Marine Monsters” talk perks up some curiosity.
An unpleasant incident between myself and my dad puts a damper on the day. Without going into details, I had participated in one of the deck competitions barefoot.
Later during dinner, when a competitor stops at our table to compliment me on my effort and my “leather feet”, my dad is less than amused. Later, he lectures me about this impropriety; about how I could cripple myself for life. He was actually nicer to Mr. Fez than to me.
I don’t bother with the Party Games. There’s a lot of reasons I don’t care. I think I may have gone to Tourist Class for a bit even though I no longer knew anyone. I would be out of the way there.
At an appropriate hour, I don a pair of white socks and my sneakers and pay a quick visit to the lounge to say good night to my parents. Apparently, my dad has felt remorse about his earlier comments and actually compliments me on wearing my sneakers. I guess they don’t look quite so hapless with socks.
I can hear Mom ‘n’ Dad come down the stairs. I am under the covers just in case they decide to look in. After waiting a bit, I recall returning to Tourist Class. I don’t want to be bothered with anyone I knew. When I return to my cabin, I sit on the edge of the bed for quite a while contemplating the voyage. I am far from unhappy. I’m just tired. There is little to look forward to now. Yet, what had started out so wonderfully is now ending up in petty squabbles. Most people would have a good laugh about “leather feet”; instead, I get scorn.
In retrospect, I imagine my dad was feeling a similar anxiety about the
trip ending. He had to return to work the day after the Queen Mary docked in
Maybe seven weeks, even on a ship the size of Oronsay, was too long for a 60 year-old Father and his 13 year-old son to co-exist. For him, it was the trip of a lifetime. For me... For me, it was the trip of a lifetime. I just didn’t know it yet.
Saturday August 11.
Cricket: “the fourth in the series ‘Passengers versus
Ship’s Officers” at 2:45. Travelogues: three on the
Horse Race programme cover
Our Horse Race ticket
After dinner is the Mediterranean Winding Race Meeting. It was little
different to the one from six weeks ago. Then, everything was still so new.
Tonight, however, I wander around the Forward Observation Lounge rather than
paying close attention to the races. The pari-mutual
“windows” were set up in here also.
At times, it seemed surreal. All
these colored lights glittering above The Arena. Hundreds of people milling about, then cheering for their horses. And just a few steps away
from the frivolity was the vastness of the
Sunday August 12 –
A notice found in Today’s Events
old center of
Oronsay will sail at noon. I remember seeing those damned dirty apes again.
Everything aboard Oronsay is slowing down. There’s no longer deck competitions. Borrowed games are to be returned. Books must go back to the library. Tonight’s movie is a rerun of “Roman Holiday”.
While I am secretly pining over the upcoming end of the voyage, I can
tell the crew can’t wait. During the voyage, it was their job to be
cheery and bright, but now the cheeriness and brightness is fueled by anticipation
of their return to
Monday August 13.
The fifth “Passengers versus Ship’s
Officers” cricket match takes place. There’s light music, and
tonight, a gala Landfall Carnival Dance.
Tickets for the special “boat train” from Tilbury to
Tonight, I have the deck largely to myself as most all are attending the
dance. Oronsay has turned eastward as she enters the
Tuesday August 14.
The last day: Mr. Peartree informs me that the lights I saw last night belonged to the S.S. United States. “We were doing 24 knots and they were doing 34,” he says, rather ruefully.
Oronsay makes a brief stop at
It is a sad Day - Today’s Events for our final Day on the Oronsay!
There is light music by the ship’s orchestra and Housie. I know I went just to hear “sweeeet 16” called out one more time, or “Jack Benny’s age - 39” or “Crazy eights - 88”. Even though I hadn’t played much lately, I knew I would miss it.
I went up on deck, but didn’t stay long. I realized that none of
the magical sensations from earlier in the voyage were present tonight. Those
experiences were now in the past. Oronsay’s
speed has slackened. She passed the
Wednesday August 15 - Tilbury
SS Oronsay has already berthed at the Tilbury docks when I awaken. After breakfast, I wish Lionel and Mr. Peartree goodbye. I go to the Stadium Deck and take some pictures of the funnel. A half century later, the conflicting feeling that when I leave Oronsay this time, it will be forever, remains.
After stepping from the gangway, I’m sure I looked back one last time though that memory no longer exists. I was so deflated.
We spend our night in
Our Room folder for our London Hotel
Rick’s Voyage Home on the RMS Queen Mary!
Thursday August 16 to Tuesday August 21 - Southampton to
Another boat train, this time to
Queen Mary seen at the Cunard berth in
From the ssMaritime collection
Southampton is a treasure-trove of liners, but with different names than
one would be accustomed to in
After a brief stop at Cherburg, the Queen Mary is on to
50 years after the fact, people are most impressed that I sailed on Queen Mary. These same people become rather confused when they learn I think of the ship in somewhat dismissive terms. But, indeed, sailing on The Mary has become only an afterthought; a footnote to the trip.
Of course, she was much faster than Oronsay. I saw the ocean careening by one afternoon through an open gangway door. Her speed was immense. The Mary really moved. It made me think of the S.S. United States a few nights earlier.
There is also a porthole in the stateroom I share with my parents. After seven weeks with my own cabin, this high occupancy is tough to take. I can’t come and go as I once did. There are no late night sojourns to open decks. The Mary is also much more formal. I only go barefoot when in bed, and then I can’t sleep with Mom ‘n’ Dad in the room.
Oronsay, however, won’t let go of us. On Sunday August 19th, we
are summoned to Queen Mary’s physician “... with reference to
Oronsay”. Apparently, a child
picked up in
I remember evening entertainments to the extent that I thought little of
them. Twice there are “Cinema Races”. I now experience the third
and most tacky form of shipboard horse racing. It seems races from
Then there is a Fancy Headdress Ball. Unlike Oronsay, some of the concoctions are elaborate. These people care if they win. One of the judges is the Commodore (or, was he just the captain? The Mary had a more complex hierarchy of officers than Oronsay). As each contestant approaches the judging station, the Commodore breaks out in a wide, toothy, smile. The very instant the contestant turns their back, the smile is replaced by an exasperated frown. Here is an officer who truly wishes he were on the bridge.
My grandfather is at the pier in
I have often heard people say something to the effect that it is good to implant the “travel bug” at an early age. At the age of 13 after sailing on a half dozen fine liners, and wishing relatives off on a few others, one would think I was hooked. I certainly thought I was.
Four years later, when I graduated from high school, Mom ‘n’
Dad and I were booked on P&O’s Orsova for a voyage around the Pacific
(the Orient Line name having now been discarded). We would be in
Unfortunately, it never happened. The British Seaman’s
We still went to
I had longed to sail under the
I made one final sea voyage. In the 70s, I made a westbound Atlantic journey on the QE2. While Queen Mary could legitimately be compared to a grand European hotel, the QE2 was more like a luxury motel.
Neither was in the class of Oronsay (or delightfully intimate SS Del Sud, for that matter). Memories are strange. Even though details might be lacking, an overall glow remains. Of course, ships like the Oronsay and Del Sud have a big advantage over the other ships I sailed on, they were home. I was on both for a very long time.
And, today, both are long gone. But, I understand. There is a little sadness. Conrad’s “From land to land” quote now makes sense. It is the way of the sea!
A Special addition by - Pat Savary Hallsworth:
“Thank you so
very much to you and Rick Danley for writing about his
voyage on the SS Oronsay. You sparked all kinds of memories and I spent
yesterday absolutely immersed in Rick’s narration and my memories of the
same trip. I, too, was thirteen years old but was a girl and in
Tourist class with my sister and parents. We boarded the ship that
I wonder if Rick was aware that there were two “burials at sea” during that voyage. I knew about them because my Dad officiated at these services. Heavy canvas tarps were hung on one of the lower decks to block off an area away from the public. I wa not allowed to go to the service, but did hover nearby for a short time. Afterwards our family was invited up to the Captain's cabin where Mom and Dad were served sherry. That too made an impression on me as I had never seen them drink before. In any case, that lead to my foray into first class. Having been reading some Agatha Christie books during that time, I thought that one death was explainable but two? Where was Poirot when we needed him? My friend and I thought we would sleuth out the murderer and, of course, that meant sneaking into first class. We opened the door and started down the corridor. It was so plush and silent and such a rarefied atmosphere that after fifteen to twenty feet down the corridor, afraid of being found out and of the murderer stepping out of one of the cabins, we dashed back to the safety of tourist class and decided we weren’t cut out to be sleuths after all.
Another memory that I
have was of the sand storm as the ship left
After we disembarked
Anyway, thank you so much for all the memories of that trip. I loved the Oronsay more than any other ship that we were on during my childhood. It was just the right size. I can't even imagine what it would be like on the new ships that are just so huge these days!” Pat Savary Hallsworth.
SS Oronsay: This Page covers RMS Oronsay’s complete history.
SS Oronsay: Page Two contains this fine ships complete Deck Plan!
Part Two: Rick Danley sails on SS Oronsay’s World Voyage in 1962.
Page One: Across
Page Three: Port Said to London & Epilogue – RMS Queen Mary Trans Atlantic crossing
Page Four: Voyage memorabilia, menus and other items – further items to come online soon!
Watch the following Pathe films:
This film shows RMS ORONSAY during her very early days!
This is the continuation of the
This is the continuation of the above film
I highly recommend this superb Book …
Where you will discover well over 700 Classic Passenger & Passenger-Cargo Liners!
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