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Cruise Message in a Bottle

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A message in a bottle left by a cruise passenger over 35 years ago was just found on Middle Caicos, part of the British West Indies, this last weekend. The note was scribbled on a piece of stationery from a Norwegian America cruise ship, parched and aged from the sun.

“I am on the Vistafjord. Write back to Andrew Tallos,” the message said in a child’s handwriting. “324 Haviland Rd, Stamford, Conn. 06903.” The date on the note said: Dec. 29, 1973.

This bottle had been at sea, or at least unfound, for nearly 35 years. Norwegian America was the forerunner to Norwegian Cruise Lines. The person who found the note was a vacationer named Evan Buffington who is now 26 years old, nine years younger than the note he found.

The cruise that Tallos was on was the maiden voyage of the Vistafjord, a 25,000-ton passenger cruise ship, and the largest ship at the time. It left from New York and traveled the Southern Caribbean. Now, 35 years later, a stranger has contacted him, bringing back the past.

What is nice about this story? It really brings up the best concept of what web sites like CruiseMates are all about. When we started CruiseMates we found a whole community of cruisers who couldn’t talk about cruising enough. We were so happy to have found each other, because we could now communicate for hours with people who knew the same things we knew, and it was never a one-sided conversation.

For years, before the Internet and back when there were so few cruise ships that most avid cruisers had been on most, if not ALL of them, there were ships like the Vistafjord, the Queen Elizabeth 2, The Song of Flower, the Holland America ships; the Rotterdam and the Veendam (Holland America uses the same names over and over, as does Cunard). There was the Holland America Dinteldyk – one of the last HAL ships not to be named after a “…dam”

Do you know why all the Holland America ships are “dam” ships? because that is the Dutch word for “dike” which is a common feature of every major city in Holland. That is the kind of fact we all used to gush about when the Internet first started.

Now, there is SO much cruise information on the Internet that we take it for granted that someone will know the answer to almost any question we can dream of – about anything! But back in those days, people like us rarely found a fellow enthusiast, and when we did we celebrated.

And so, I just want to give a shout-out to the infamous, metaphoric “message in a bottle.” It stands for the whole idea that created the Internet, reaching out to that unknown person – whomever may find our message, that I have an adventure to share with the world. That I travel so I can widen my world view and I hope that whomever hears my message will be as enrichened by my experience as I have been.

It makes me want to say, “Let’s get back to the that attitude of the early days of the Internet.” Let’s celebrate the fact that we have a medium where like-minded people can get together and share ideas and compare opinions and experiences. We used to respect each other, not play one-upmanship or castigate anyone who did not feel the same way we do.

Everytime you blog, or post to a message board, consider it a “message in a bottle” and realize that once upon a time people waited 35 years or longer for replies to their messages. Thank the people who reply, who take the time to acknowlege you and your life experience – and stop taking other people on the Internet for granted.

Maybe the contentious nature of the election season is prompting me to say this, but remember the concept of the “message in a bottle.” Everyone reading this is a REAL person, not just a screenname. We all have different experiences and backgrounds and when we connect we should celebrate our diversity as well as our commonalities. The fact that we connect at all is the achievement. Like many things in life, it is important to remember how far we have come, and not to take the struggles we faced getting here for granted.

This is based on an article in the Stamford Connecticut Advocate.

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Time October 5, 2008 at 3:11 pm

[…] Jim Rentz wrote an interesting post today onHere’s a quick excerpt […]

Comment from RayB
Time October 5, 2008 at 4:00 pm

in 1993 Helen and I sailed on the Vistafjord for 2 cruises. First one was from Athens ending in Naples. the 2nd was frm Naples ending in Lisbon.

At that time she sailed under the Cunard Line. Time does change.

This ship was considered at that time to be in the Luxury class. She was indead a very nice ship. We had a wonderful time onthe 2 cruises making 26 mores days at sea.

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