A thousand guest reception hosted by the International Maritime Organisation
Shipping, masters and ocean-going vessels of all types from Tankers to Frigates from Cruising to Cargo and Containers were all there at the centre of conversations, along with gold braid introductions and a kimono greeting from one of the hosts.
It was a scene of cross cultural exuberance that filled to overflowing the upper mezzanine floor for World Maritime Day held at the impressive International Maritime Organisation address on the Albert Embankment. Despite invitations in excess of 1000 guests arrangements were made with exceptional care and courtesy, demanding our appreciative thanks to the hosts for receiving us so warmly on an occasion that allowed the Mayoress and I to acknowledge formally the considerable prestige that the IMO brings to the London Borough of Lambeth.
With the concerns for our young people never far away I was heartened by a conversation that brought together the worlds of those who crew with a static cargo and that of a cruise ship, for whom, the cargo is forever on the move and in need of constant attention. Different worlds maybe but a shared discipline that prompted a heartfelt and spirited compliment to the `boys and girls’ as he called them aboard the floating hotels where skills are valued and life as precious as each new dawn.
The crew of waiters, cooks, cabin staff, stylists and entertainers were paid an enormous compliment for their exceptional discipline in making sure that the fate of the cruise ship recently run aground off the west coast of Italy did not result in many more fatalities. Discipline afloat is high and those not up to it are soon adrift in a culture that for the young crew on that awful night was to become the ultimate test of character to which they responded with an `honest grit and dignity’ in the proud traditions of the sea.