A visit to the bridge is something every avid cruiser longs for, a chance to really get to see the vessel for what she is. I don’t feel I need to “introduce” this post really, the title says it all…..……….
We were met by an officer on the forward passenger stairwell and escorted along the deck towards a plain, relatively un-important looking door, believe it or not but we had now entered the officer’s quarters. It was an area like every other passenger deck however; the wall decorations immediately grabbed my attention, especially a poster of the ship which detailed escape routes and what to do in the event of having to abandon ship. Before I got a chance to look at it any closer we were ushered along a little further, around a corner and we were there!
After a few moments to take in our surroundings we were formally introduced to the bridge, the captain, and then given an education on the various instrument panels and what the purpose of each one was. It was incredibly interesting and any questions asked were answered very well. You didn’t feel rushed at all, I actually think the young cadet who was our “tour guide” was actually relishing in the moment. A chance for him to put his training to good use and impress his captain!
We made our way from starboard to port, the captain making his general announcement to the passengers when we were on the port side that we were about to “let go our lines and push away from our berth”.
It really was epic, a chance to watch these people at work. On this particular day we were leaving Malta and the Deputy Captain had the ship. He made adjustments, checked the captain was happy with his decision and slowly we started to push away from the dock.
Even now this memory is imprinted in my mind; I could have stood there for the entire cruise and not been bored for a second. We stood quietly just watching and listening as crew in other areas of the ship made radio contact with the bridge. Then appeared the harbour pilot, clearly not expecting an audience of his work today, he looked a little surprised to see us “civilians” there but carried on with the task at hand….thankfully!
We stood quietly, like little mice, not sure if we should even breathe in case it altered our course when the captain asked if my friend and I would like to sound the horn. I know my face lit up, what an absolute honour this was! We edged closer to the port side operating panel and were told “place your finger on this button, when I tell you too, press hard and don’t let go”
A few seconds later he gave us the nod, we pushed down on this tiny little button and it was like feeling the fire from the Dragon’s belly! I could actually feel the sound brewing, it was a delayed reaction of maybe 2 or 3 seconds then out came the roar from the ships funnel. I think it was clear by my face that this had made my cruise! Eventually he said we could leave go, we said a sincere thank you and stood back, again ready to take in our sail away.
We stood for a good while, admiring the view, snapping pictures through the tinted windows and generally just letting our eyes scan our surroundings. After all this was not just a bridge visit it was an honour and a privilege that I was certainly not going to waste a second of.
Once clear of all “major obstacles” I suppose you could call them we got the chance to have a general chat for a few moments. By this time we had been on the bridge for an hour give or take a few minutes and I was not ready to leave yet.
We had a chat with the deputy captain. He was on the same level as my friend and I which was great it was like chatting to friends and we shared a fair few laughs. He became a regular crew member we would see on our travels around the ship and someone we shared many a conversation with.
That day remains the one that tops every other experience in my life.
Little did I know I would be blessed a second time just several months later and once again find myself standing looking out across the ocean from the bridge. This time we were crossing the Bay of Biscay and it was flat calm, not even a ripple………………………….
Okay, I give up. Which ship? But you are right, getting a tour of the bridge is a phenomenal experience.