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15 MINUTES WITH...
New Zealanders are looking forward to
the trip of a lifetime – a cruise to Gallipoli
for the centenary of the Anzac landings.
Among the seven international cruise ships
permitted to drop anchor for the event will be
MSC Orchestra. She will have a team of three
Anzac experts on board, including Australian
military historian David Horner.
Dr Horner says the centenary cruise will
allow guests to visit the site and pay tribute
with or without a ticket to the Dawn Service.
The 36-day cruise, which departs from
Fremantle on March 26, will call at Sri
Lanka and Egypt before arriving in Gallipoli
a week before the commemorations start.
Dr Horner’s role is to give guests the best
possible experience by making sure that
they’re well informed before they get there.
“Prior to arriving, myself and the two
other historians will give lectures on the
ship to make sure everyone has a good
understanding before we go ashore,” he says.
“We will arrive in Gallipoli and stay for
two days. During that time passengers who
want to go ashore can explore all of Anzac
Cove, Lone Pine and go right to the top of
the ridge to Chunuk Bair.
“The historians will then take guests
from one stand to another and explain what
happened at certain points.
“What you see today at Gallipoli today is
very similar to what it would have looked like
100 years ago. You can point at a spot and say,
‘That’s where they landed; that’s where they
fought; and that’s where they died’. Some of
the trenches have fallen in but the terrain is
the same. You can see everything, from where
the soldiers arrived to the bridge lines where
the Turks would have been.”
During the trip Dr Horner
will also help debunk some of
the common Anzac myths and
share some incredible stories.
“There are a lot of myths
around Gallipoli. The first
one is that the whole landing
would have been a good idea
if it had succeeded. This isn’t
true because it was never going
to succeed and therefore the
whole thing was quite futile.
“Another myth is that
these brave Australians were
ordered to fight by dreadful
British officers when, actually,
“As historians, we give
a factual account and there
are also many great stories
to be told. One of the most
remarkable of these is how
the troops withdrew. It’s
called the ‘silence stunt’. It
was decided by the end of
1915 that they would have to
withdraw carefully or sneak
away. One way they did this
was by staying completely
silent and convincing the Turks
that they had left. The Turks
15 MINUTES WITH...
would then jump out to recover the land
and the Aussies would start firing. They did
this a few times until the Turks decided they
wouldn’t be tricked. Australians used this as
an opportunity to slip away
and when the Turks finally did
try to recover the land, they
had already left.
“The Australians also
rigged their rifles to shoot
randomly by placing a piece of
string around the trigger and
attaching a bucket to either
side of the string. One bucket
had a hole and would drip
water into the other and, once
the second bucket was heavy
enough, it would drop and
the gun would fire. It had
the Turks thinking they were
After the first visit to
Gallipoli, guests will return to
the ship and cruise to other
parts of Turkey and Greece
before returning to Gallipoli
for the Dawn Service.
Although the ship is not
permitted to dock off Anzac
Cove, it will drop anchor
close to the site, allowing
guests with tickets to the
Dawn Service to attend.
Everyone on board will
attend a private ceremony and
watch the service live on big
screens around the ship.
We meet a military expert
who will be on board one
of the cruise ships heading
to the Anzac centenary
commemorations at Gallipoli.
Words Nahrain John
1. Anzac Cove, where the
troops landed on the first day
of the campaign.
2. The grave of John Simpson,
who used a donkey to carry
wounded soldiers from the
3. Lone Pine, scene of the
major battle and the site
of a special memorial to
4. The Nek, where two
5. The top of Chunuk Bair,
from where New Zealand
troops retreated when they
could no longer hold the area.
Now the site of New Zealand
and Turkish memorials.
SITES AT GALLIPOLI
Anzac Cove, 1915
It’s not every day that you read a
ship’s review by one of the literary
giants of the English language.
Nor delve into the archives to find
out what life was like for cruise passengers
nearly 200 years ago.
Our excuse is the 175th anniversary of
Cunard Line, which is planning a giant
global birthday bash in 2015.
Charles Dickens and his wife Catherine
were among the passengers who boarded
Britannia in 1842 for a transatlantic crossing,
a voyage Cunard forged its reputation on.
The 30-year-old Dickens was off on his
first book tour of the United States – this
was before appearing on a few chat shows
made such tasks quick and easy.
He wrote about the 18-day voyage in his
travelogue American Notes. Here’s what he
said about onboard dining:
“At one, a bell rings, and the stewardess
comes down with a steaming dish of baked
potatoes, and another of roasted apples; and
plates of pig’s face, cold ham, salt beef; or
perhaps a smoking mess of rare hot collops
[slices of meat].
“At five, another bell rings, and the
stewardess reappears with another dish of
potatoes – boiled this time – and store of
hot meat of various kinds... We prolong the
meal with a rather mouldy dessert of apples,
grapes and oranges; and drink our wine and
brandy-and-water. The bottles and glasses are
still upon the table, and oranges and so forth
are rolling about, according to their fancy
and the ship’s way.”
Dynamic dining indeed!
Dickens wasn’t impressed by the ship,
either: “Before descending into the bowels of
the ship, we had passed from the deck into a
long narrow apartment, not unlike a gigantic
hearse with windows in the sides; having at
the upper end a melancholy stove at which
three or four chilly stewards were warming
their hands; while on either side, extending
down its whole dreary length, was a long, long
table over which a rack, fixed to the low roof
and stuck full of drinking-
glasses and cruet-stands,
hinted dismally at rolling seas
and heavy weather.”
He was equally harsh
about his cabin: “Deducting
the two berths, one above
the other (the top one a
most inaccessible shelf )
than which nothing
smaller for sleeping in was
ever made except coffins, it
was no bigger than one of
those hackney cabriolets.”
In a world where ships like Quantum
of the Seas dazzle us with technological
advances, what ’s changed in 175 years?
Well, the paddle-powered Britannia didn’t
have a robot barman, high-speed internet
(think carrier pigeons!) or a viewing pod on
its roof (though you could climb the mast,
if you were feeling foolhardy and had had
a few stiff gins).
It did have butler service and some luxury
furnishings. But not many. As Dickens
remarked, conditions were “spartan”.
“Carpets and brocades” were removed
once a voyage began, as the majority of the
rooms, corridors and cabins were soon awash
with sea water, and possessions were often
soaked. Stewards would tend to seasick
passengers, running from cabin to cabin
issuing rations of brandy.
Britannia continued to steam back and
forth across the Atlantic, a journey that
generally took 12 days and 12 hours, until she
was sold to the North German Navy in 1849
and renamed Barbarossa.
In 1907 Cunard introduced the first
express liners, Lusitania and Mauretania.
They were the first of the “grand hotels” at
sea – the Quantum and Anthem of their day.
They rocketed along at 25 knots. They had
palm courts, orchestras, a la carte restaurants,
electric lifts and telephones.
Lucania was the first ship to have suites
and single-berth cabins. It was furnished
with Persian carpets, velvet settees and
chairs with brocade. There was also a
grand piano and an American organ. The
ladies rooms were scented with freshly cut
geraniums and the Italian-style dining room
had Ionic columns and mahogany walls.
First-class passengers could expect to
dine on “little neck” clams, chicken okra,
petit filet de boeuf a la Parisienne, timbales
a la richelieu, roast quail on toast a la
Monglas, and Neopolitan ice cream. Over a
breakfast of broiled sausages, or veal cutlets
with tomato sauce, passengers could read
the latest news thanks to the first ship’s
newspaper to be printed daily.
Today, Cunard has three ships. Queen Mary
2 is a true transatlantic ocean liner, and Queen
Victoria and Queen Elizabeth continue the very
British tradition of slightly more formal sea
voyages, despite the fact that the line is owned
by the American Carnival Corporation.
Cunard remains committed to the
transatlantic run, and has built a brand that
is all its own.
‘We prolong the meal with
a rather mouldy dessert of
apples, grapes & oranges.’
Words Peter Lynch
How Charles Dickens panned one of
the world’s greatest cruise lines.
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