chapter  5
16 Pages

Cruising

The golden age of cruising was at the end of the nineteenth century into the twentieth century when only the wealthy could afford to travel in this luxurious, privileged and elegant way. There was steerage class available for basic accommodation in the bowels of the ship for immigrants intending to start a new life in countries such as America, Canada, South Africa, Australia and new Zealand. Ships became bigger and grander as American, British, German and French companies competed to build the fastest and most luxurious liners. Royalty, heads of state and film stars would arrive at Southampton docks surrounded by glitz, glamour and photographers, on the Queen Mary, having sailed from New York. Today film stars often slip into London Heathrow behind dark glasses, barely recognised! It is interesting to learn the origin of the word ‘posh’. On the days before air-conditioning the voyage through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea was unbearably hot, on the outward voyage from the United Kingdom the cabins on the port side had the early morning sun, but had the remainder of the day in the shade. On the return journey the reverse was true. P&O would allocate cooler cabins to government officials and dignitaries whose papers were marked ‘Port Outward-Starboard Homeward’, which was shortened to POSH. Memorabilia from this time during the 1920s and 1930s can be seen at the Thomas Cook Archives in Peterborough (tel 01733 563200).