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Officer's sometimes get the best cabins. Southern Cross and Oriana.

By Jamie Shedden

As junior purser on Shaw Savill's ss. Southern Cross I had a grandstand view from the bridge when I was ‘berthed’ in the Pilot’s cabin, Cabin albeit small, was compact, with a window offering the best view on the ship apart from those navigation officers working on the bridge.

Pilots cabin occupied by Junior Purser Jamie on SS. Southern Cross

Unfortunately, it had no aircon and relied on a thorough breeze with the door and window open, but of course, in the tropics, it was a very warm breeze. Think from memory there was a blower on the bulkhead, but once again, it blew warm air. But this did not matter as Jamie had his own bronzy deck, from which he could watch over the forward deck or indeed the massive sports deck.

Here Southern Cross is heading out from Capetown, photo taken from aft Bridge Deck, my cabin was the Pilots Cabin, aft of the bridge. Isn’t it wonderful to see a magnificent open sports deck without all the clutter of some of the features on the current mega-cruise ships and without all the buzz of Disneyland entertainment on ships today.

Southern Cross's wonderful open sports deck was used for many activities including local entertainment at ports of call, such as traditional dancing in the Canary Islands or the Cook Islands. Tons of space for adults and children sports days, Race Meetings, Cricket matches, or just lounging around enjoying the sun and a cool refreshing beverage, enjoying a good book and the relaxing life at sea.

I recall having a ‘chiller’ full of ice to cool my Tennant’s Lager cans, but of course, the ice melted rather rapidly as the chiller was not insulated. My steward had to constantly fill up the chiller with ice, he was not particularly happy climbing three decks of a narrow stairwell with ice for the ‘bridge’, I paid him handsomely for the extra burden on his daily chores.

My cabin was adjacent to the radio room, so often the R/O’s coming off duty made beeline for the Tennants Bar! The Officer’s Smoke Room was two decks below, I was lucky situated above the Captain & Deck Officers, and Radio Officers Accommodation.

Being the junior purser, it was my job to open up the office, and after a late-night ‘working’ ( socialising with passengers) , I was often late and had to run to the office on Prom Deck aft.

The skipper was a small Scotsman, and sometimes I would encounter him on the stairwell as he was heading to the bridge, and I was racing to the office. He always made me late, as he lectured me on punctuality and instructed me to

“Walk, don’t Run” !!

Looking forward from the Bridge over our great observation deck on Southern Cross, ideal for viewing docking and transiting the Panama Canal. It was also a fantastic viewing deck to watch the Crossing the Line Ceremony.


My cabin on Oriana

By Salty Seadog

The cabin I was allocated by the Senior Assistant Purser on Oriana had one of the best locations of any ship I sailed on. Elevated all the way up to the Bathing deck, only two decks below the bridge. It had a full-blown window, which turned out to be the biggest in my time at sea.

It had a generous bunk and a day bed, all covered with a rather bright orange checked material. As l remember the floor was linoleum with a rug. But in the 1970’s this was the height of luxury for a young lad on his first big adventure. Of course, by today’s standards it would not match up, but at the time it was better and more spacious than most passenger cabins.

Although it had a washbasin that was it as far as bathing facilities when. The showers and the wc’s were a shared facility just along the alleyway.

It did have a telephone which of course was so that you could be called out in the middle of the night when there was an incident and the one on duty. The junior pursers got this rather shitty job and were generally frightened to call out the senior pursers.

Going back to that first day at sea I became aware that I had an officer’s steward to look after me, wow from student digs to this. Stephen was my first officer's steward; he was a rather dower Goanese man. This was most unusual as most Goanese crew were delightful, helpful and friendly. Not so with Stephen. After my first night I was rudely awakened by the cabin door flying open, three or four rather heavy footsteps across the floor and plonk as a small tray with a pot of tea and biscuit landed beside my bed, Clonk, Clonk, Clonk, Slam and he was gone. I tried so hard to communicate with Stephen, but it was a lost cause.

An officers cabin on Oriana. showing day bed and chair the checked fabric

was orange coloured.

Read more about Crow's Nest Cabin

Now apart from sleeping your cabin was a great space for a pour out. I had two specialities.

One of which was the peach blossom party. (BKM 6’7” If you knew him was partially responsible for the Blossom part). The peach blossom was a delicious concoction, half a peach (tinned of course in those days) was soaked all day in Cointreau. It then was placed in a champagne coupe and topped up with sparkling wine. Of course, when you reached the peach you ate it.

On the port side of the bathing deck were the cabins of most of the male purser’ officers, but for some strange reason, I was on the starboard side with radio and deck officers. I was right next to the ship’s office, whatever that was but seem to be the hangout of the first officer, I think. This was a blessing in disguise at times l did not have to parade past the other cabins as a door let directly out to the Plough Tavern and the old first-class swimming pool.

More stories by Jamie

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Jamie, The Purser
Jamie, The Purser
Jan 16, 2022

Looking good there John, happy daze Eh?, cheers Jamie


John Martin
John Martin
Dec 07, 2021

A similar photo to Jamie's concerning keeping passengers happy!

Always happy to oblige a photo op

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