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Vertical Expression of Horizontal Intention.

Dancing the Dance

When I joined Oriana back in 1973 Captain John Wacher was the Master of the ship.

As a very junior officer on my first voyage, I treated the Master with Ore and was a little afraid of him. Captain Wacher fancied himself on the dance floor and was a bit of a ladies' man.

Capt. John Wacher entertaining guests

If you read my earlier blog I was known as the Dancing Purser and was renowned for my terpsichorean delights. Captain Wacher really didn't like this. If I was dancing in one of the ballrooms I was warned if he arrived I was to move to the other ballroom.

On a recent cruise, I noticed the lack of officers in mess kit on deck in the evening, in fact, I did not see any at all. This I found most strange. Back in the ’70s on P&O and Princess we were positively encouraged and expected to mix socially with the passengers. In fact, even as a junior officer, we received an entertainment allowance in the bars to entertain passengers.

Purser Officers in Mess Kit on Ocean Pearl

This of course increased as you got more senior and I never remember having to pay a bar bill once I got to Deputy Purser. Now I am not saying this was never abused by fellow officers, but in any case, drinks were duty-free and dirt cheap as was cigarettes, cigars and tobacco onboard ship. Why are drinks on modern-day ships so expensive, especially considering they are duty-free?

When I mentioned this recently, a fellow Purser Officer David Baumann emailed me with the following reason why officers were conspicuous by their absence in the evening on my recent cruise.

Officers Socialising - David Baumann

I was on a cruise up the Red Sea in May 2018 aboard Azamara Journey.

Included in the entertainment was a series of Question and Answer sessions with various senior officers, all of which I attended. During the session with the Cruise Director, a lady asked why the officers no longer socialised with the passengers. The Cruise Director asked if we remembered the Love Boat and we all said yes! He then said that whilst that show was popular, a lot of people – of both sexes – went on a cruise seeking romance. As these things turn out, most were disappointed that the romance did not continue after the end of the cruise. They then SUED the cruise line!! This resulted in the officers being banned from socialising. Remember that the majority were Americans, who seem to love legal action.

When I disembarked from this cruise, the Cruise Director was standing at the bottom of the gangway. I drew him to one side, explained that I had been at sea in the “good days” and asked if the answer he had given was really true. He said that it certainly was and that the cruise lines had lost a serious amount of money as a result.

The Love Boat

Having worked on the Love Boat whilst filming was taking place “Wheeling In” was commonplace. Engineering officers were great at this. They always appeared at Captain’s Cocktail Party and pounced. However, a particular Purser had another method of luring the prettiest girls.

During my own time at sea, I am glad to report that socialising with passengers was very much not banned!! We would start the voyage (note – not cruise) by frequenting the First Class Ballroom and establishing the potential for attractive young ladies there. If it was disappointing, only then would we visit the Tourist Class Ballroom to check out the potential there!

During my time on Orsova, I decided that this was rather hard work and that there must be an easier way. So, I would place myself at the head of the gangway in Southampton, armed with a clipboard that had just a blank sheet of paper. At the other side of the gangway would be a steward, whose job it was to collect the tickets. When an attractive young lady walked up the gangway, I would wish her Good Morning and ask to see her ticket. I would note the name and cabin number, ask the steward to collect the ticket and add the name and cabin number to my sheet of paper. So, at the end of embarkation, I had a list of every pretty girl on the ship!

The ship’s printer had produced – in exchange for a bottle of scotch - some very smart invitation cards. The date would be fixed (usually about 3 days out), the fellow officers informed and the cards sent out, requesting “Your Steward to direct you”. In those days, I was lucky enough to have the Tourist Purser’s cabin, which some of you may know to be the ideal party venue. I believe that the young ladies were very pleased to have an invitation so soon after boarding and I don’t think that we ever had any no-shows!

One of the best pieces of advice I got from a senior officer at the start of my seagoing career was. By all means, invite guests to your cabin but by no means go to theirs.

And then there were the nymphomaniacs. On one cruise there was a passenger, I remember her name vividly, but won’t say it here to protect the innocent. From the start of the cruise, she complained about a bad smell in her cabin. She was constantly at the Purser’s office complaining to the lovely Gary Glitter. As we were fully booked we had nowhere to move her to. Eventually after efforts by Gary and the Senior Assistant Purser Greg we had to get the Purser Dickie Harries involved.

Purser Dickie Harries

Dickie eventually arranged to go around to her cabin and take a sniff for himself. Well, the Staterooms as they were called on Princess in those days were laid out with the bathroom immediately inside the door. The bathroom door open outwards and when open blocked the entrance to the stateroom door. Dickie knocked on the door and was invited in. Once in the cabin, the bathroom door was flung open, thus blocking any escape route. And out of the bathroom stepped Mrs. D****** absolutely starkers.

On another occasion, it was an Indian deckhand that was the attention of a predatory female passenger. Late at night, he was washing the decks down when the floosie, flaunted herself at him on deck. After he had knocked her back she reported him for attempted rape, for which the poor guy was logged. The following night I was duty assistant purser and was called out in the middle of the night by the night watchman who had been called to her cabin. Having been aware of the incident with the deckhand, he called me out to accompany him to her cabin. It turned out to be the correct move, when we arrived at the cabin she was in a very flimsy negligee giving us both the come on.

If you have any amusing stories about "Wheeling In" please email them

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I remember an italian officer in sth pacific had 1 girl on starboard side when i went over to port side he had another

They still at it but more discreet nowadays


Jamie, The Purser
Jamie, The Purser

Interesting tales of luring young girls into the clutches of the Pursers' officers and rather like the idea of 'capturing' them on embarkation and notating their names and cabin numbers. We had similar arrangement on Shaw Savill ships, but not at embarkation, as usually too busy with paperwork (no computers in these days) but we had system where passengers had to call at the office to pay a refundable deposit of ten shillings for a cabin key ( to ensure cabin keys returned at the end of voyage). It was during this process we notated names and cabin numbers for our 'chatty girls' as we called them, and apart from a prospective partner for the voyage, we had a list…



The Tourist Purser's cabin on ORSOVA was at the end of short alleyway just aft of the Tourist lounge - in my time on ORSOVA it was always commandered by the SAP. It had the advantage of being of good size and discrete. As a 1st voyage Cadet it was my job to roust out the SAP each morning as he was invariably worse for wear after the night before.

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