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Cruise On, Mom

Royal Caribbean Fleet

1980 Postcard: The Royal Caribbean Fleet

by Linda Coffman

It started 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. 

Royal CaribbeanI 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 unbroken.

Ready to MusterMom 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 enjoyment somewhat.

Song of Norway, the Captain and MomHowever, the 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 and Pat enjoyed it as though it were the most expensive suite, ordering breakfast in bed and giggling about leaving their towels on the floor.

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.

Bon Voyage!

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