Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Archive Of The Week : Sail Away

You know what it is like when you are certain that you are going to hate something just as soon as someone first suggests it. I was like that with cruising. The idea of being shut away with a couple of thousand stuffed shirts aimlessly drifting over leaden-grey waves and eating your way through enough food to build an edible battleship just did not appeal. But this was twelve or so years ago, it was our 25th anniversary and the GLW (Good Lady Wife) quite fancied the idea and so off we went aboard the old P&O Arcadia around the Mediterranean. You know how some times you can be wrong. I was wrong. I fell in love with a type of holiday that allowed me to laze in the sun working my way through a mini-library of books whilst having endless cold beers delivered to my reclining deck chair. I fell in love with the pace-less days and the stress-less nights. And in consequence, I now find it difficult to survive much more than six or eight months without jumping on a ship and sailing off somewhere warm.
It is still four months until our next cruise but we had the first meeting of the little party who will be holidaying together over the weekend and we discussed things like anti-malaria pills, mosquito repellent and available supplies of tropical shirts. And with the anticipatory taste of salty sea-spray still caressing my lips I went in search of my Archive of the Week. And I found a little gem.
The Gjenvick-Gjønvik Archives are one of the largest private archives of historical steamship and ocean liner documents, photographs, and passenger lists. Even if your tastes are more inclined to family history rather than family holidays the site is still worth a visit as they maintain many passenger lists from the days of the great trans-Atlantic liners and these are freely available. As well as passenger lists there are collections of steamship tickets and illustrated brochures. There are menus and recipes and guidance on what to wear for the fashion-conscious travelling of 100 years ago. You can happily browse for hours and pretend that you are far from land on the high seas.
I will provide you with just one little sample here and that is the breakfast menu from the Cunard Line R.M.S. Berengaria from Friday, 9 August 1927 on an Eastbound Voyage from New York to Southampton. Enjoy!
Grape Fruit
California Figs in Syrup
Compote of Prunes
Baked Apples with Cream
Oatmeal Porridge -- Cream of Wheat -- Fresh Milk
Force Whole Wheat (Flakes)
Puffed Rice
Breakfast Bran
Post Toasties
Corn Flakes
Post's Bran Flakes
Grape Nuts
Shredded Wheat
Boneless Codfish—Cream Sauce
Fried Lemon Sole
Kippered Herring
Eggs Fried, Turned and Boiled
Poached Eggs on Toast
Shirred Eggs—Portugaise
Scrambled Eggs on Toast
Omelettes Various
Calf's Liver - Piquante Sauce
Chicken Hash
Smoked Beef in Cream
American and Wiltshire Smoked and Pale Bacon
Cumberland Ham
Cambridge Sausage
Mutton Chops
Devilled Beef Bones
Potatoes— Mashed, French Fried, Steamed Jacket
Cold Meats Assorted
Spring Onions
Tomatoes Cucumber Radishes
Griddle and Buckwheat Cakes—Maple Syrup
White and Graham Rolls
Hovis Bread
French Toast
Cottage Loaves
Vienna Bread
Pulled Bread
Toasted Muffins
Scotch Oat Cake
Corn Bread
Currant Buns
Sally Lunns
Swedish Bread
Parkerhouse Rolls
Soda Scones
French Crescents
Tea—Ceylon, China and Blended
Malted Milk


  1. Alan, just read your post and quite enjoyed it. I too have an aversion to cruises, unlike you I have not yet tried to master it. In 1962 as a 15/16 year old I went on P&O Orcades to Singapore from Tilbury when my Dad was seconded to the Malaysian Air Force for 3 years. At that age I loved it. How would I cope with all those people now? Just can' bring myself to try, but toying with the idea of a 'mini' cruise up the Norwegian fjords to see how it goes; we'll see.
    What an amazing menu, and what a great way to start the day.

  2. Anonymous12:19 PM

    Alan just saw this via fb. Will definitely link up to this site( I may just find something ). As far as the cruising goes...one of these days, I'll have to go on one above the water-line-LOL!

  3. I have never been on a cruise, and haven't sailed for years. However the thought of a mini-library and endless beers is a delightful one. Truth is it is an ideal with me, but the reality is I can never read endlessly - I get restless after a few hours reading, but I love that ideal!

  4. Well if I wasn't hungry enough before reading this breakfast menu, I could eat a horse between two bread wagons now (although that is something they don't seem to list, which is a shame).
    I love your capacity to unearth such marvellous material!

  5. I've been on 4 cruises and I agree it is a wonderful way to vacation! And that menu from the 20's isn't bad! The amount of food on those ships is truly amazing, isn't it?

    GLW...I love that! :)

  6. I've been on just one cruise and I have no desire to ever take one again! Bleh!!!

  7. I've never been on a cruise, always thought I'd hate them and thus never interested - except for those cruises to alaska to see the wildlife, that cruise I've always been keen on as I heard you can camp on deck. But I don't know if it's aging or what, but I'm more open to the concept than I used to be.....

  8. love the artwork in the pic. we love to cruise, though i imagine it being even more of an adventure on an old ship versus the sleek cruisers there days...

  9. You almost make me want to return to sea.

  10. I have never sailed, but my feelings are much the same as Yours used to be......However, so many people I know enjoy the experience that I guess I must Be Wrong.It sounds fine.especially as most holidays on dryland are so rushed & stressful these days.

  11. Very enjoyable--loved the '27 menu! I've never thought too much about cruises, tho I do like the ocean--Eberle I think has some interest & there's some chance we might go next year when she has a "decade" birthday!

  12. Thanks all. The majority seem to like the thought of cruising. Perhaps we should hire some 1920s liner and have a Blog Cruise. What an event that would be.


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