Late last month a friend and I were discussing Mediterranean cruises that she was interested in taking. Today, there is a large selection of cruise ships in the region for her to consider, but my friend became really interested when I told her that I had sailed the Mediterranean back in the ‘70s. That, of course, was when ships were significantly smaller and there were a lot fewer of them.
The ship I was on, I explained to my friend, didn’t carry more than a couple of hundred passengers for the three-day cruise from Haifa to Pireaus with stops at Limassol and Rhodes. In fact, it was sort of designed as a half car ferry and half passenger ship. That was ideal for my family and I, as we were able to bring our car with us. I still recall, with vividness and a degree of trepidation, as it was hoisted off the pier by the ship’s crane, swung over and then lowered into the cargo hold. What a relief it was once our swinging car was safely on the deck below.
I bring this up, because I realized shortly after speaking to my friend that this experience will more or less fit into a story I began writing several years ago. I am still puzzled, in fact, as to why I didn’t think of applying this experience sooner.
Plus, there were a few other experiences from the ship that will not only enhance the story, but with a few revisions, will automatically resolve a couple of nagging loose ends.
The really nice aspect about the ship was that, even though it was technically a car ferry, we had our own cabin, there was galley with table service and real waiters and even a swimming pool. The water in the pool, I vividly remember would slosh back and forth as the sea became a bit rough. I was amazed at how rough the Mediterranean could get for such a relatively small sea. The crew even had to lower the pool’s water level a bit to prevent it from splashing on to the deck.
The most memorable part of the trip, however, was being able to visit the bridge while enroute – something I assume is forbidden in this day of hijackings and terrorism. I met the first officer, a rather hospitable fellow, who was in command, because the captain was in the sick bay, having slipped and fallen on a banana peel during port call.
There is a lot more I can add about this point-to-point trip, but will hold on to them until I can properly arrange them for the chapter or two of the story I have set up. As I keep saying, personal experience, at least for me, seems to make the best contributions to my stories, as I can actually picture the experience, complete with the reality of the detail.