Ah, nostalgia. It's not what it used to be, is it?

Ah, nostalgia. It’s not what it used to be, is it?

Being an alleged gentleman of a certainly undeniable age, I have been looking back lately at my thirty-odd years of cruising and sailing history through a pair of (Mateus) rose tinted glasses. We can all be wistful with wine and, with hindsight, we become uncommonly wise at times, too.

I am also mindful that I am slowly slipping into a kind of mental quicksand that I define as ‘Victor Meldrew syndrome’; a kind of crusty, sporadically grumpy stupor that has less and less tolerance for the so called ‘hip’ and ‘cool’ of the new. For me, the beneficial onward march of technology peaked with the corkscrew.

In that frame of mind, I came to contemplate some of the things I miss from the good old days of cruising. Feel free to sing along if you know the words…..


Scarlet ribbons, scarlet ribbons.. not just scarlet, but every damned colour under the rainbow. How wonderful it was to behold that technicolor torrent of streamers that rained down the soaring flank of some departing cruise ship or liner on sailing day! What fun to aim our fragile paper arrows at friends, family, or indeed anybody that took our fancy. Gone now.

I get it, too; sweeping up that tidal wave of multi hued detritus must have been an arduous, truly soul destroying job for the poor, broom wielding chaps clutching their brooms on the pier. Each one a little King Canute, desperately attempting to keep down a rising tide of coloured tat.

Of course, it is so called ‘environmental concerns’ that did away with this spiffy, life affirming little sailing ritual. But, in the immortal words of the prophets called Madness, ‘Oh, what fun we had’….


Oh, the moment that your travel agent would write or call to tell you that your travel documents had arrived.

Opening them was like being a kid on Christmas Day all over again. Ridiculous excitement; the herald of good times ahead, writ large in brightly coloured baggage tags and wrapped in faux leather. I pored over every bit of witless, written inanity as if it were the text of the Bible itself. Shore excursion options! Order your on board champagne! Flowers in your room!

Now it’s all e-docs; uniform, alien and utterly lifeless. It’s as if Simon Cowell had been put in charge of streamlining the whole process.  And printing out, cutting and sellotaping your luggage labels? Dear God, give me strength.

Mind you, the spiffy lines still do the whole, magnificent show with proper, apt aplomb. On those days, Victor tends to vanish, and my olden, oft missed sunny disposition surfaces and smiles. Worth having just for that.


Yes, yes, I know you can buy them now. And also that some ships do still offer them in the folder in your cabin. But at one time they were gratis, easy to grab, and available for all. Small, pretty, and giving you that perfect, airbrushed view that you could never usually get pier side, or from a tender doing its own, unique version of rock and roll at any given anchor port.

OK, that’s it for now. Anything that you miss? Let me know, and let’s be one in our global grumpiness.


  1. Streamers asked any deck seaman and he will tell you ,most likely cuss and tell the them that handed out rolls and rolls to punter lining the open decks on departure to go throw themselves over the side instead .oh yes it was fun to some but when it was over and the ship was under way wind blowing streamers wrapped around the greased boat falls or littering the open decks what a pain never did find that amusing.So glad they have ceased handed them to punters.


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