THE most interesting about spending time in an ocean voyage is that it is purely relative. Like a fragment in space, a moment is in time.

We sailed in the lightness of an early summer when the sea was quiet and calm. The ship plowed into open seas, with a shade of vivid indigo as the horizon narrowed and widened, dipped and rose. The moon was illuminating the decks with its whiteness.  Like a distant voice, the sea hushed, almost to a sigh, in a rhythmic exhalation as though it were asleep outside the gate of sound.  “Oh, the elegance of nature, the wonder of space and the fragrance of the ocean!”

It was a Sunday night, people there who came in long rows, some of them singing their heads feeling light with strong drink. Already tequila was flowing, which is said to come from cactus, except that they didn’t remove the needles. Beer was abound — Corona, Heineken and one who joked it will make people smart, citing it even made Bud…weiser.

You’re on the water and you’re sea sick.  The waves rock you in their hammock back and forth up and down. At first, it was a sweet cradling motion — until you start feeling like you have a hangover as big as Mount Everest.

You tried pure willpower. “I won’t get sea sick,” but nothing helped as your inside turned round and round, losing all your sense of balance.  Flooding all your senses, nothing worked.  The sea made a sport of you, without any right in their making. Mark that as your first evening, it meant to start with unadulterated fun.

Still, a good cruise provides entertainment, solace and humor.  A respite from the hurry-scurry of the everyday routine.  The element of surprise: you meet a person of the moment, who lives for the moment, but the effect is cumulative, minor characters and minor entertainment little pathos. Fun that made Tolstoy weep:

“Who knows romance is in the air: there will always be the opportunities and importance of a moment a single event, or connection. It teems with indigenous life, in a pace of living that is accumulated. You see life as a server of swift impressions rather than a coherent whole life seems richer, without its breadth and depth you see it multiplying with little impressions.”

You walk and settle on a chair around the deck and you reflect for a moment. An excruciatingly handsome face flash by, you’re “crushed” for a moment. Someone jostled you, you’re angry for a moment, someone smiles at you, you’re glad for a moment. Such are the daily feelings inside a ship, unlike the lingering precious, ductile feeling in your routine. A cruise provides a sure “escape,” as you see life’s unconscious symbols just as conscious symbols kill it. There’s freshness, spontaneity, and surprise; the very soul of a cruise are slices of life that do not make life itself. The bits and color put together that do not make pictures, nor does a dissonance make music.  They are just spectacular meanderings that briefly glimpsed.  Since there has no beginning or end, simply viewing of life in passing it could be grand or drab to grab.

The interview with Captain Pierluigi Lanaro was a conversation transposed into written dialogue, if not monologues, provoked by questions and opinions – with the value of the richest remark. Everything he said whether funny or diplomatic came from a true Italian gentleman. He is the most important person in the ship and can not be expected to fraternize with passengers and crew. The Captain’s Elegant Ball, is the only time you see him, surrounded by his crew, his cordon sanitaire, people look at him in that old world elegance and dignity…respect, no selfies.

He has been with Carnival Imagination for 20 years and sailed with 60 million passengers, served with inspired dishes washed down with liters of wine.

He said when you’re that confined, then you see everything…each trip  brings new experience, everything in the ship is “too,” nothing is routine; his gift was sureness of instinct, his ability to focus on people in order to illuminate a sense of openness on larger issue: a whim of wit warmed by reserve of his patrician upbringing…but in a more tranquil vein. To this day, 20 years with the ship with such astonishing rectitude without counting the cost, simply because it has never occurred to him to do anything else, has exceeded dreadful expectations in the life span of a ships stewardship, relying on his own moral compass.  He has answered every question, from who was the most difficult passengers, to the most delightful one, to his most harrowing experience.

He speaks with pride about his crew, their preparedness to anything and everything.  His diverse plate included future cruises where people do not need to do homework before coming to a cruise and where everything spells gaiety and is yours for the taking.

His 20 years have given him soaring memories.


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