SAINT JOHN – For more than 10 years now I’ve watched the cruise ships come and go in the Saint John harbour, fascinated by the sizes and the various amenities on these floating theme parks and resorts – the water slides, pools, and giant movie screens. As my kids grew older, they’d stand beside me in the window overlooking the harbour. “My ships,” my son Jack took to calling them.
So I was pretty excited (and the kids jealous) when Port Saint John arranged for me to board the Regal Princess with its 3,500 passengers and 1,300 crew members.
I received a tour of the bridge from ship captain Tim Stringer, who is from the U.K. but lives in Halifax. He married someone from there whom he had met on a ship more than 20 years ago. Stringer spends three months at sea and three months at home and gets to walk his dogs with his wife in Point Pleasant Park when the ship docks in Halifax.
Anele Dlelembe, a customer service agent from South Africa, then showed me the rest of the ship. He’s been to every corner of the world in his job – Alaska, the Baltic Sea countries, Australia, New Zealand, the Caribbean, South America and of course Saint John. “I don’t pay to travel, I get paid to travel,” he told me.
It was a cold, fall day so you’ll see from my picture gallery that most people were “below deck” in the restaurants, shops and common areas if they weren’t out wandering the uptown streets or on tours outside the city.
The Regal Princess’ visit was the second last cruise ship visit of the season; the final one was the visit by the Royal Princess on Thursday.
I only discovered after I left the ship that the Regal Princess was the “Love Boat.” At least that’s what I call it because it sounds out the theme of the 1970s show on its horns as it leaves the harbour.