There used to be nothing like departing on an ocean liner, either for an Atlantic Crossing or a cruise around the South Pacific. These were occasions when family and friends armed with streamers, bottles of champagne and fruit would come down to the wharf to see you off. Before security, family and friends were allowed on board to help you settle in your cabin and explore the ship before the gong sounded and the cry of “All ashore who is going ashore”
If you were lucky enough to be crossing the Atlantic on any of the French Line Ships such as the Ile de France or Liberte, corridors and public rooms would be filled with red uniformed bellboys delivering flowers fruit and champagne to your cabin as a last minute gesture of goodwill from your friends and family.
I always remember as a teenager and a youngish adult whenever in Sydney going to the Overseas Passenger Terminal to see the liners and if lucky enough to see one depart. My best friend and I (with the blessing of parents) would take the overnight mail train (a journey of eight hours) to spend the day in Sydney. Late afternoon before our return journey back home would see us armed with bags of streamers, down at the wharf seeing off the Fairstar (even then a bit of a rust bucket) with 100’s of people throwing streamers and shouting farewells to those on board. It didn’t matter that we didn’t know anyone, we considered ourselves incredibly sophisticated and world wise for seeing a liner off.
We would all hold on to our streamers until the last one broke and the liner slipped away to the cheers of the crowd on shore and on board!
Nowadays liners slip out of ports with no fan fare and it is just another departure. It is just another cruise or holiday, when before it was the start of a big adventure, with a suitable fanfare.
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