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Slow boat to China


John Gavin


The foregoing is a preface included at the beginning of many of my travel writings. After forty-two days aboard the Sea Princess I reluctantly admit that it is difficult to chronicle a journey where there is continuous action when the ship is in port or on the high seas. The Sea Princess is operated by Princess Cruises. A ship of 77,499 Tons, 857 feet in length, 188 feet in height with a beam of  105 feet, with a draft of 27 feet; its journey traversed 8 countries, 13 ports and almost 4,000 nautical mile on a journey from Brisbane Australia to Tokyo Japan and return, a trifle intimidating even for yours faithfully to describe.

In addition it carried some 910 crew and passengers totaling almost 2000 people. A large number of the crew mingled with the passengers from time to time while those providing service to the passengers not only attended as would be expected, but they entertained and friendships developed among crew and passengers.

With Darwin receding to the south, the ship continued north-west. Guests were captive and this state remained for some four days. There were no complaints; there was so much to do on the ship.

As if the day and night activities for those on board were somehow tedious, the ship commander, Captain William Kent found it necessary to alter course and follow the equator west. This action was taken with a view to exposing passengers to a lunar eclipse of the sun on the morning of March 9th.  Glasses provided by the shipping line were compulsory wear and before and during the eclipse it was possible to look directly at the sun through these glasses. Although the day was partly cloudy the eclipse took place as scheduled and many guests witnessed the shadow of the moon obscuring the sun. The sky darkened; a view to the portside away from the sun revealed a dark twilight. The ship came to a stop and a tender was lowered into the sea. The tender  began to circle the ship with photographers filming the event and the Sea Princess which was stationary as the sky darkened. Crowds lined the walkways on level twelve, an open air deck to the extent some wondered why the ship did not list.

(Continued on next page:)





Becomes a fickle

thing when combined with

travel. There is the excitement of

the journey itself, the changing scene,

climate, people and the inevitable question

“ Where do I fit in all of this?” the memory is

bombarded with information, many questions and

decisions to such a degree it is unable to absorb it all

and distortions of reality take place. The author,

John Gavin, accompanies Olive and Peter on

 Journey’s through the exotic places. He

records their travels, impressions , even

thoughts. His chronicles record

the intimate details of  travels

allowing  a reader

to experience





Painting: Tiger Lily in the Long Bar, Raffles Hotel, Singapore.