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Cruise to remember

The gigantic 13-storeyed cruise liner was docked majestically at Singapore harbour. Soon it would embark upon a voyage carrying its 2,000-odd visitors to Malaysia and Thailand for an experience of a lifetime. Col NS Ahuja (retd) writes.

punjab Updated: Aug 07, 2013 09:36 IST
Col NS Ahuja (retd)

The gigantic 13-storeyed cruise liner was docked majestically at Singapore harbour. Soon it would embark upon a voyage carrying its 2,000-odd visitors to Malaysia and Thailand for an experience of a lifetime.


Among the motley crowd of boarding passengers, our group of 10 close family members consisted of all seniors between the ages of 60 and 83 years. We were all attired in bright colours with identical white headgear, just for fun. Our eldest sister, though 83 and on a wheelchair, was the most excited of all. So, age notwithstanding, we were all in high spirits and in a great holiday mood.

As we boarded the ship, its Titanic-like opulence - with a five-storeyed atrium dotted with bubble glass elevators soaring over a majestic winding staircase - left us spellbound. We discovered that this mammoth structure with its several outlets of food, beverage and recreational activities, was, in fact, a floating five-star resort designed exclusively for the entertainment of its patrons.

On leaving the harbour, we were immediately engulfed by a giant wave of fun-filled activities. The poolside barbecue dance and dinner parties, the cultural extravaganzas, the late nights at the casinos, the shopping sprees, the magic and jugglery shows, and every other normal activity was transformed into an experience to relish.

On the food front, the unlimited lavish buffet of multiple cuisines posed a direct challenge to our gastronomic stamina. But we remained undeterred and defiant.

The shore excursions to Penang and Phuket were equally thrilling. By the end of the day, actually midnight, we would crash into bed exhausted. The next morning, we would be ready and fresh again, with our dentures and bifocals in place, to face the day's schedule.

Time whizzed past like a comet. On the last day, we watched the sunset from the top deck in a rather pensive and reminiscent mood. I drifted into a distant childhood memory when we, as young siblings, used to play with paper boats in the rains. Our youngest sister would always win the boat race. Sensing our frustration, she would say consolingly that, one day, she would give all of us a joyride in her boat. Ah! Some memories do linger.

As destiny would have it, 65 years later, on this blessed day, as we watched the sun disappear into the Indian Ocean, that innocent promise of childhood had manifested itself into reality. After all, it was she who had organised this entire cruise holiday for us.

Well, I thought, a childhood promise had been fulfilled. And this time too, my little sister was the winner.