Famous first words
ARNIVAL Australia boss Ann Sherry is planning a big welcome for P & O’s Arcadia when the 2000-passenger ship arrives here next February on its maiden world voyage.
The 82,000-tonne superliner, which will visit Perth, Albany, Adelaide, Melbourne, Sydney, Brisbane and the Queensland Whitsundays, has been described as indulgent. This no doubt has something to do with its child-free status; bookings will not be taken for anyone under 18.
Other little indulgences include exterior glass lifts with roller-coaster views of the horizon, 3000 pieces of modern British art, the Palladium three-storey theatre, a hydrotherapy pool in the spa and Arcadian Rhodes, the fine-dining seagoing restaurant created by English celebrity chef Gary Rhodes.
This is the fourth P & Oship to be named after the mythical Greek paradise that was the home of Pan. The first Arcadia was a 6498-tonne steamship built in 1887 to celebrate the golden jubilees of the Peninsular & Oriental Steam Navigation Company and Queen Victoria.
Arcadia 2 made its maiden voyage from London to Sydney in 1954 and Arcadia 3, the former Star Princess, which transferred from the US to P & O’s British fleet in December 1997, visited Australia for the first time on a world cruise in 1998.
It was Arcadia 2, however, that captured the hearts of so many people on the line voyages between England and Australia and cruises to Asia and the South Pacific before, flying a 23m paying-off pennant, it made its final journey in 1979 to the breakers in Taiwan.
I was a journalist in the public relations department of P & Owhen I left Sydney in Arcadia 2 on decimal currency and Valentine’s Day 1966 on a cruise to Pago Pago.
I had been allocated a premium cabin in the first-class section of the ship and when I came on board I was handed a note from the public relations superintendent. It said he had authorised unlimited signing privileges for me to entertain the people on what was then called the Commended List.
I was on annual leave at the time and was
Adults only: The Arcadia is Australia bound looking forward to a relaxing sea holiday, so I asked my stellar Irish steward if we could work our way through the VIP parties I had been asked to host as quickly as possible.
O’Dowd happily agreed to set up back-toback pre and apres lunch and dinner drinks in the cabin and I was soon able to tick off most of the names. Guests were not invited in any particular order. If someone didn’t answer the phone, I rang the next person on the list. I did this until I had enough acceptances for each occasion.
By the time O’Dowd arrived with ice and canapes before lunch on day three I had contacted everyone except one man, Patrick Hutcheon. I had phoned him day and night, but he had never answered.
I told O’Dowd this meant we would have to have another soiree whenever I caught up with the elusive Hutcheon.
I also told O’Dowd I was going out on deck for a much-needed dose of salt air before the first guest of the day arrived. As soon as I stepped into the blazing tropical sun, I heard someone shout my name. Helen, come over here, there’s someone I want you to meet.’’
It was a colleague from my office and when I walked over to where she was sitting, she introduced me to her companion.
Helen, this is Patrick Hutcheon,’’ she said. My first words to my future husband were, Oh, at last I’ve found you . . .’’