caraway_ (caraway_) wrote,

The Floating World

Last night, PG sat in a bar on Station Pier, watching the Queen Elizabeth float off. It is new and huge cruise ship, on its maiden voyage. Melbourne is an increasingly popular stop for cruise ships, bringing as it does to Americans a slight exoticism amidst a sea of cultural familiarity.

Evertually, Supergirl and I arrived late. Driving through downtown on a Friday early evening was a serious mistake - we should have taken the tram from just north of the CBD where we live, to the Bay just south.

Then we went through 3 rounds of security, including a health check, before we were allowed aboard the Crystal Serenity, a smaller but still massive cruise ship. My aunt and her daughter and son-in-law were on board, and they had invited us to dinner.

Inside, it was like Las Vegas. 14 floors of shops, bars, restaurants, health clubs, pools etc, all in gilt. We had a drink (the Girl's first Shirley Temple - she'd never had a marachino cherry and there were four inside her glass!) while watching the local entertainment, which consisted of a string quartet followed by some aboriginal dancers. "Very different from the Maori dancers in New Zealand", said my aunt's admirer, a dapper 85 year old from Chicago. I got very pedantic with the Polyensian and the Melanesian, until my cousin rather drily suggested I should apply to be one of their on-board lecturers. There are several uni profs and four star generals who get to stay free for part of the voyhage in return for talks. Since I'm a complete travel slut, I quite seriously said I'd consider it.

Then we went to a very American Italian restaurant, where we all ate wayyy too much fatty food (if you put mayo on carpaccio, do you then need to cover it with olive oil and parmesan? I think not), and had a lovely time. I like my aunt infinitely better now that her husband, my mother's brother, is dead. He was a world class bastard. My cousin is a very right wing judge, but she is also kind of nice (she has a bit of her dad's bitter tongue) and her husband - who has MS - is a dear. They are very much in love, and it is nice to see people that happy together. I remember their wedding, a couple of months before PG and I eloped - so 25 years ago, and how she was just that much older (8 years) to seem sort of glamorous when I was growing up. Anyhow, they love cruising, have already signed up for one next year. They were in Christchurch a week ago and of course we talked about the destruction of the centre of that lovely town. They had come ashore today, but just seen a bit of the downtown.

In the abstract, I know I would hate a cruise ship - the regulation, the brief glimpses of places worth exploring for more than a few hours, the sheer unreality of it all - but I also saw the appeal.

We went to a lounge with dark wood panelling, with a piano man and waiters who knew my family well enough to bring them 'their' after dinner drinks. Then at 11 we turned into pumpkins - back onto the dock and then home again in our real world.
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