On the Way to Australia 1959


The SS STRAITHAIRD had come from Southampton via Cuxhaven to go to Port Melbourne, Australia. The voyage took five weeks. The service on board the P & O Liner was excellent. At mealtimes we had a table-steward to look after eight people at our table.
Our steward was Irish and always quick on the move. He assumed, everyone would be eating all three courses for every meal. That meant, he usually had the dessert already waiting on his serving table before everyone had finished their second course.
One day two people refused to have dessert. Our steward looked pleadingly at me and Peter, for he knew us to be good eaters: We always emptied our plates!
“Please, would you like a second dessert? See, I am not supposed to take it back to the kitchen,” he said. My husband and I gladly accepted a second dessert. It was delicious! Since our steward could not help being a bit rash with the ordering, quite a few more second desserts came our way during the following weeks. We did not mind this at all. Actually we were rather glad to help out!

15 thoughts on “On the Way to Australia 1959

  1. FIVE WEEKS! That’s a looong time on a boat. I know Port Melbourne though – it’s just past the city.

    I couldn’t handle all those second desserts – that was quite a generous sacrifice of yours & your husband 🙂 But I think it’s silly to blame a steward if people can’t fit in any more food. That’s crazy. I’ve often wanted to go on a cruise. It would be magnificent, fresh ocean air every morning.

    1. The five weeks on the boat were the best holiday we ever had. It’s unbelievable how much a cruise like this would cost today. And we had all this for next to nothing! (I think we had to fork out only about three hundred Deutsch Marks.) The German and Australian government shared the bill under an assisted immigration scheme. We still know some of the people who were with us on the STRAITHAIRD in 1959.
      We loved this table-steward. He was so cheerful. We thought it was good fun that he always had our dessert ready ahead of time.In those days we didn’t think a second dessert would do us any harm.
      I think the policy was that the steward was supposed to ask who wanted dessert and then ask in the kitchen only for the desserts which had been ordered. Somehow he didn’t like to take any desserts back to the kitchen. We only obliged to eat the desserts because we really liked them.
      We would love to go on a cruise like this again. Sadly it would cost far too much these days, I mean to go as far as Europe or America. Flying is so much more affordable because it doesn’t take up so much time. I think soon after we arrived in Australia most migrants started coming by plane. We were the lucky ones that we were given this wonderful looong cruise!
      I wrote in another blog how we managed with our two babies on board. But maybe I could still write a bit more about this.
      Lovely that you commented. Thanks, Robyn.

      1. Sorry about getting the name wrong. It’s Noeleen, isn’t it?
        I thank you for your comments, Noeleen, and for reading my blog.
        Cheerio, Uta

      2. Two babies on board! Oh, my goodness, that was truly a huge experience, all round. Thank you for the extra detail. I’m not sure how my Grandmother & Mother arrived from Africa (before which they went across Siberia, fleeing Poland. I wish I had someone to ask. Sounds like a precious cruise. It was a good read 🙂

  2. Hello, Noeleen!

    I just added another photo of us on board the STRAITHAIRD. Our babies were 5 months and 21 months old. We had to leave them at a well equipped childminding place during our mealtimes. The children on board had their own specialo mealtimes!

    About your family, do you have any idea why your grandmother and mother had been in Africa? Your mum was Polish, wasn’t she? It would be great, if you could find out a bit more about their history. At least you know about a few details, like that they came via Siberia.

    Glad you enjoyed reading about the cruise. Have a nice weekend!

    1. Thank you for visiting, Inigo. Oh, you’d have a lovely time on a big ship like this. They had plenty of ice-cream on that ship! And a swimming pool.

    1. There were heaps of migrant families with children on board the ship. It was a luxury ocean liner with as many crew as there were passangers. We were well looked after. I recall there was one day when the sea got a bit rough and it was difficult walking straight along the corridors. But no, we didn’t get seasick.

  3. How Lovely you are very well I see, that was a long time aboard but good service made it much more comfy. What a smashing Photo lovely Memories.
    Sheila xx

  4. Reblogged this on AuntyUta and commented:

    I mention in this post, that the service on board the P & O Liner was excellent. Well, apart from the Irish steward, we also had a personal cabin steward. Because of the two babies, we were given a first class cabin on C Deck! There worked any number of dark coloured Indians on board this ocean liner. There was a bulletin published every day by the captain and crew. More than half the passengers were from Britain. a lot of them subsidized migrants to Australia. The rest of the passengers were subsidized migrants from Germany. In the cabin next to our cabin was a young German migrant family with kids the same age as our kids. We are still good friends with the rest of the family. Unfortunately, Karl-Heinz, the father, and Gudrun, their daughter died an early death. We met the other day Doris, the mother, and Michael the son. After ten years in Australia the family had gone back to Berlin, where Karl-Heinz established a well going business for alarm installations. Michael is leading this business now.

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