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Cadets, Cocktails and a Officer is Logged.

Shaw Savill A Ships

By Jamie Shedden

When I joined Arawa in January 1970, I was surprised that the Purser's staff were made up with Purser/Catering cadets., and on my first voyage, there were 4 cadets.

We also had Chief, Deputy, First and Second (me) pursers, a purserette and Chilly Ho who worked in our office when not attending to children. Being a cargo-passenger vessel, with just 450 passengers, aiming at senior round the world passengers, there were few children for Chilly-ho to amuse all day, perhaps about 20 .

We usually had two cadets in the office and the other two concentrated on the Catering side.

It soon became apparent that Arawa and other A Ships, Aranda and Akaroa, were being used as training vessels for cadets, a form of cheaper labour I suspect. Anyway we got on very well together and in fact, the cadets were berthed in the Pursers Alleyway on C Deck aft starboard side, I had an outboard cabin, small but adequate with aircon, and two inboard cabins housed two cadets each. Opposite me was the First Purser's cabin who co-shared a toilet with the Staff Chief Steward, and next to him second steward, so it was a very friendly alleyway. Apart from the First Purser and Staff Chief Steward, we all had to use communal passenger and toilet facilities.

After the Purser' Office closed late afternoon, we all headed to The Tavern Bar, located on C Deck aft, port side, where every evening we enjoyed a few dry martinis - the bar operated a Dry Martini Club between 6 and 7 pm, pre-dinner cocktails! It was fairly obvious the Pursers commanded the best bar stools and after a few cocktails, we had to rush across to our cabins, leap out of our tropical gear, grab a towel, and half-naked, head for the shower block, hoping passengers had vacated by this time, just 15 minutes before dinner, rush back and jump into mess kit, and head for dinner! We were well primed to take on the world of after-dinner entertainment, in the passenger lounges, singalong with Jamie, or MC the dance, DJ the Disco, or compere a Bingo Session - exciting entertainment !!

  1. The Tavern Bar - Dry Martini Club between 6.00pm and 7.00pm for Pursers staff

  2. The Children's Playroom - Aka The Purser's playroom

  3. Embarkation Area including typing offices

  4. Purser's Office

  5. Embarkation Area

  6. Purser's Cabins

Purser Jamie enjoying a little fun in the Children's playroom

The Officers Smokeroom, in actual fact, The Engineers Smokeroom, was located at the aft end of the engineer's alleyway was the best positioned "lounge" on the ship on port side of Boat Deck, how the engineers were allocated this lounge I will never know as it had commanding view aft, overlooking the passenger swimming pool, and for all the randy young engineer cadets, what could be more enticing than a cool beer in hand and eyeful of flesh, when you finish watch in the engine room. We had three engineer cadets on this our first voyage in 1970, which was a great experience for them, as once graduated they would move to a cargo ship, which would have none of the facilities of a passenger ship. I made good friends with these cadets, for most were ages with me or younger, and today all three are happily married and live in New Zealand, and attend our Reunions.

Not sure how many deck cadets we had for the bridge, as the bridge accommodation was forward of the main accommodation, and we seldom had a need to visit the Bridge, except to obtain port docking information papers, however do recall a couple of rip roaring parties in one of the deck cadets or radio officers accommodation. Apart from the Engineers Smokeroom, they had the best accommodation on the ship. Although it was more difficult for these cadets to fraternise with passengers and sneak them into their cabins without being windswept across the midship hatch - but of course, fraternising with passengers was to be frowned upon!

It was one of these rip-roaring parties that led to an Officer being logged.

In my time at sea, I never remember an officer being logged, but there again it could be a case of such things being kept quiet, although I find that hard to believe in a world where all your fellow seadogs know if you're so much as pass wind. After all, we are talking Shaw Savill here. This would never have happened on P&O - Salty Seadog

Visiting Lautoka (Fiji) in '73 - we berthed alongside and Ocean Monarch was anchored off. We sailed first and passed Ocean Monarch at anchor, but somehow Ocean Monarch docked in Suva ahead of us (must have been arranged by Shaw Savill) . Derek Pell was assistant purser on the Ocean Monarch and came over to Northern Star to party in my cabin with many other Ocean Monarch friends. Derek popping the cork

Derek popped a champagne cork and it hit the fluorescent light tubing on the deckhead and exploded, and blew out all the lighting in the engineer's alleyway ( there were three pursers, the chef, and staff chief steward's cabins all in this alleyway. The Chief Engineer was in the adjacent cabin to mine, and he was entertaining a young lady and was not amused that all the lights had short-circuited in the accommodation, in fact, he was livid, and demanded my party be abandoned immediately. ( it was very funny at the time).

The next day, I had to report the Captain's Day Room, and was 'logged' in front of the Captain, Chief Engineer, Chief Purser, and Chief Steward - I was the first officer to be logged on the Northern Star, fame at last!

I was ordered to pack my gear from the cabin and was relocated to a vacant radio officers cabin on the lower bridge - which to me was a far superior cabin with window instead of a porthole, better shipmates, well away from the irate Chief Engineer, and officers mess at short stagger!

The only embarrassing thing was moving all my worldly personal effects from Main Deck, through passenger accommodation to reach the entrance to the Officers Accommodation on Sun Deck. Of course, many of the passengers knew me and needed to know the reason for my relocation at sea. We were midway through the South Pacific cruising season, so had another 8 weeks to enjoy this beautiful cabin.

More stories by Jamie

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I last saw Derek Pell when I was crossing the Cook Strait - he was Purser on the inter-islander ferry. Did you know David Stearn?


Looking for me? 😂. Rumours of my death have been greatly exagerated! Alive and kicking. Still in UK, now retired after 35 years with P&O. David Stearne



P&O Orsova - late 60s. Our MAA was Alf, ex Royal Marine and stickler for "by the book discipline." He was always asking me for a new note book as his had mysteriously disappeared - again. I asked him when he had last seen it. It was handed in each morning to the Staff Captain and never seen again - on numerous occassions. I eventually got to the bottom of it. Staffy used to entertain his Dining Room table to drinks before dinner, about once a week. This of course included ladies and ladies were not allowed in crew cabins. Alf accordingly logged the Staff Captain as having female guests in his cabin against regulations. The guilty notebook was apparently…


That sounds like Alfie Pimblett" He was legendary and once logged himself for being late on duty!

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