The Cases of the Missing
The ship sets sail from Southampton for the cruise with over 2500 people on board. These folks come with over 5000 pieces of luggage which take a different route from the docks into the vessel. These luggage is tagged deck-wise and stacked inside a large mesh cage and lifted into the ship by forklifts. These are then moved by the cabin stewards to the respective cabins. Sounds simple, but more often than not the number of pieces are more than the cages available and are stacked on the floor and in the melee many pieces lose their tags and end up in different rooms or are left on corridors. The entire distribution takes place overnight.
The passengers enter with their hand baggage with the clothes required for the first night with them. The formal clothes required for the Welome Abroad Dinner hosted by the Captain on the 2nd night is in the check in luggage. After checking out the facilities on board, they return to their cabins on the first night and find their piece of luggage missing and call up the Front Office (Admin). There are only three people manning this and hence the query lands on the lap of the Night Supervisor (Accom)…Me!!
My work stops abruptly and I pull all my staff from their jobs and a massive hunt for the missing piece ensues. Corridors, stairs, storage closets, laundry rooms all are scoured and it continues till the elusive piece has been located, described to the FO and taken to the cabin and handed over to the aggrieved party who may or may not be in their rooms. I have found them in the most unlikeliest of places from lifts to the theater. Checking 2 acres of space is no small feat, but at least they are likely to stay at one place till found, unlike one time when a passenger went missing.
It was on the 3rd cruise (No 573) The Spring Collection, traversing from Spain, Corsica, Livorno (Italy), Toulon (France) and Tangiers (Morocco). I remember this as it had several honeymooning couples too apart from the usual suspects. Around 10 pm, I get paged (no mobiles then) which required a call back from the nearest phone within three rings otherwise one may be reported for disciplinary action. I am informed that a passenger from the A Deck (A 302) has gone walkabout from his cabin and needs to located at once. I rush to his cabin where his aging wife tells me that he is suffering from memory loss and may have forgotten his cabin number.
I pull out all my night stewards and send them on different decks (there are 14 of them) and I take a deck myself. The ship is about 853 ft (260 m) long with four corridors running the full length , I did the 1 km in about 10 mins and was moving to the next deck when the front office informs me of a disturbance in B302. I reach there just in time to see our MIA face to face with an irate male on his honeymoon cruise. Quick apologies later, I bring our elder to the lift lobby, ask him to wait, while I call up the FO with the good news. I then turn around to see the lift door closing with our man inside. I wait to see the stops before I careened down the steps and find him in the last stop where the restaurants are located. To my dismay the lift lobby is filled with exiting diners in their black tie and gown formal dinner and no sign of the man. I make my way into the restaurant and spot him easily as he is in his printed night suit among the blacks. This time I don’t let go of his hand till he is safely returned to milady.
There was a case of a missing bronze oar from a sculpture which was never recovered probably it was chucked overboard and an incomplete work and a furious top management. But since it was located on the deck and not under my purview and was left out the subsequent investigation and is now visible only in a picture, unless it has been replaced later!
Experience gathering was the biggest gratitude of all!
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