Even now, there is something about putting to sea on a ship that just feels so timeless and right compared to being on any other form of transport.
Yes, that’s a pretty damned profound statement, and it’s one that not everyone is going to agree with. But in defence of such a statement, I’d offer the following as an explanation…..
No one would argue that a jet plane is infinitely quicker and more convenient as a form of mass transport. Which is why liners are largely extinct in the first place. And there are many jet airliners, both past and present, that have been extremely beautiful in terms of appearance.
But nothing for me has the instant drama and majesty of a cruise ship or an ocean liner, or it’s subtle, wondrous progression from a shimmering, implausible mass tethered briefly to a pier, to a fabulous floating wonderland, ablaze with light and music, progressing in state beneath a sky ablze with stars, or lunging gamely towards a flaring sunset, chasing a horizon that it can never, ever reach. No other form of transport presents itself with such dramatic flair, symmetry or sheer poise.
And, while take off on many flights is indeed an adrenaline surge, it is not one that compares with the subtle, beguiling thrill of putting to sea from Barcelona, Genoa or New York on a warm summer night. A beautiful evening, a cold drink to hand, music in the air and the gentle vibration of deck under foot as the gap between ship and shore widens almost imperceptibly- these things are powerful magic, a series of sensations passed down through the ages. They still have the power even today to move people on more than one level.
And it’s the sounds, too. Give me the subtle, seductive sound of deep ocean swishing alongside some sound, sturdy hull standing out on its course to who knows where, rather than the antiseptic interior of yet another transatlantic jet, with its forced smiles and food regulo five.
And yes, many of my friends are just as passionate about planes and, indeed, trains and cars as I am about ships. Which is fine because, if we were all the same, life and how we engage with it would be dull indeed.
And, while there are many charges that even the most ill informed of people can level against sea travel, the idea that it is ‘dull’ is certainly not one of them. The only way not to enjoy a sea voyage is to embark in a sealed, wooden box.
An endless voyage, across a succession of seas ranging from the sublime to the outright stormy, on a series of stunning, elegant vessels, each one as distinctive as a human fingerprint, each as elegant as a charm bracelet.
That’s why I love sea travel.