Cruise On, Mom
Postcard: The Royal Caribbean Fleet
by Linda Coffman
with the Song of Norway
I discovered the
source of my love for ships and the high seas. I have a cruise gene.
It was here all along, tucked away in the corner of a closet shelf.
For years it was dormant, just waiting to be found. It was in a
dusty box of mementos from a long ago, dimly remembered voyage. It
wasn't my cruise vacation, but my mother's.
It was November 29,
1980 and and the ship was Song of Norway. There was Mom,
embarking on her first-ever cruise, shaking hands with the Captain,
and basking in the sunshine.
know the date because she saved her boarding pass, along with just
about everything else. I recall my envy as snow fell from a dreary
winter sky and I pictured Mom relaxing on a balmy beach.
Sorting through her
souvenirs brought back memories of her laughter as she related tales
of sumptuous meals, midnight buffets, and ice carvings. For
Christmas that year she distributed exotic seeming gifts from far
away islands. I marveled at her ability to get everything home
talked about funny and unusual cruising events. The lifeboat drill
meant having her picture taken in the 1980 equivalent of what she
called a Mae West. Handsome young Norwegian officers asked her to
dance. As a lady of a "certain age," she found that
delightful. "It's because I'm Norwegian, too," she boasted,
taking pride that her family hailed from Stavanger, Norway. It could
also have been her prowess at winning several big jackpots in the
casino. That sort of reputation doesn't go unnoticed.
Ports of call
weren't all palm fringed beaches, horse drawn carriages, and fruity
island drinks. Although those things were duly noted, Mom was
saddened by the poverty she encountered ashore and it dimmed her
ship lived up to every expectation and more than made up
for any unpleasantness she encountered in port. Not only was the food
wonderful, but the service was an unexpected delight. As a
housewife, Mom was accustomed to taking care of the needs of others.
The first morning onboard she made her own bed, to the horror of her
cabin steward. For an entire glorious week she was treated like
royalty. From lazing at the pool to afternoon tea, she took
advantage of everything the Song of Norway had to offer. Bingo, horseracing, and a turn at the day's
offering of casino games occupied hours that whizzed by too quickly.
Mom's cabin was one
of Song of Norway's least expensive, an inside shared with
her best friend Pat. Even so, there was room for everything and the
cabin steward kept it all ship shape—once they let him! Mom
enjoyed it as though it were the most expensive suite, ordering
breakfast in bed and giggling about leaving their towels on the
Yes, that's where I
got my cruising genes. I love these memories of my mother's and I
like to think she's with me in spirit on each cruise I take. It's a
shame we never cruised together. We planned to—we just waited too
long and she was gone forever much too soon.
To all mothers and
daughters, may every day be a Happy Mother's Day and happy sailing.