Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Cruise Ship

Last month* we spent a day at the riverside at Greenwich, as the weather was warm and sunny*. The River Thames is generally the colour of weak coffee with a dash of milk, and on a grey day it is quite unattractive. But with the sun* shining, the surface sparkles with every wavelet, and the wakes of the boats are illuminated with brilliant white foam and splashes. The tide was coming in and where it laps onto the little corners of “beach”, the mud and silt are churned* up, creating swirls of light and dark brown. The “No Swimming” notices are certainly easy to obey and I often wonder why anyone would even entertain the thought of entering the water.

* Omission phrase "las(t) month"

* "sunny, sun" Insert the vowels in these and "snowy, snow"

* "churned" Keep the Chay well slanted, so it does not look like "turned" which has a similar meaning

As we came close to the riverside railings, looking up river to our left towards Deptford* Creek, we saw the huge looming white form of the cruise ship Viking Sea, tethered a distance from the shore. Its graceful pointed prow was facing down river and one of us remarked how great it would be to see it move off. While I was thinking about getting up the departure information on my phone, to our surprise, we noticed various small boats and a larger tug boat position themselves around the ship. The radar on the top of the ship started rotating which was a sign that it was preparing to leave. A large thick rope was sent up to the ship from the pilot’s tug boat. Several river taxis* were rapidly offloading last-minute* cargo and people at the floating dock alongside. The dock was finally pulled back away from the hull. Workers in the small boats released the tethers from the static buoys and we watched the dripping ropes being drawn up one by one into the tiny portholes.

* "Deptford" The P of the longhand is not sounded, although natives of the area may omit the T and say "Depford"

* "taxis" Helpful to insert the vowel inside the Ses circle

* Omission phrase "las(t)-minute"

At last* the ship was free of its moorings and began to move about slightly with the turbulence of the tidal currents. Passengers were lined up at the front viewing platform. Finally, we saw the ship glide slowly down river behind the pilot boat, turn the bend and go out of sight beyond the trees and buildings. It left a very big empty* space on the river where we had watched it, and the other river traffic, for over an hour. Once out to sea it will become just a tiny white speck on the vast North Sea until it reaches its destination in Stockholm in Sweden where once again* it will dwarf all the buildings round it.

* "At last" and "at least" Always insert the vowel

* "empty" Omits the lightly sounded P, therefore stroke M, not stroke Imp

* Omission phrase "wu(n)s again"

The Viking Sea operates under the flag of Norway and is classed as “small” of its kind which enables it to undertake river cruises, which some of the larger cruisers cannot do. Big, giant and huge can mean anything and so we need some figures to bring it all into perspective. It was built in 2015 and is fifth in a series of six, with the last one being scheduled for 2020. It is 228 metres long and has a beam (maximum width) of 34 metres. Its gross tonnage is 47,800* tons which is not a weight measurement in this case but a volumetric measurement of the enclosed space in a ship. This derives from the old word “tun” meaning barrel, with one gross ton being about 100 cubic feet. The ship’s dead weight is 3,640 tonnes*. It has energy-saving hybrid engines with diesel generators and gas turbines, optimised hull shape and solar panels, to achieve maximum fuel efficiency and minimise exhaust pollution.

* "47,800" No need to write anything for the word "thousand" but if have already written in an Ith or the outline for "thousand", then leave a space before writing the 800, so it is obvious that it is not a numeral. This illustrates the benefit of being a little behind the speaker, to take advantage of the best way to write numerals and other phrases.

* "tonnes" "tons" "tuns" All pronounced the same, so it is up to your general knowledge to produce the correct longhand spelling in each case

The ship’s speed is 20 knots. It has 550 staff and crew, and can accommodate 930 passengers in its 465 cabins, enticingly called staterooms, which to my mind is where the Queen would be staying!* It has 9 passenger decks served by 6 elevators, 2 swimming pools one of which is an infinity pool, 2 Jacuzzi hot tubs, spacious lounges decorated in a Scandinavian theme, gourmet* cuisine and restaurant facilities, and a free self-service* laundry on each cabin deck. All the Viking cruisers are adults only, with no gambling casinos or children’s facilities, and so are aimed at a particular market and type of customer.

* "staying" No diphone, as the "I" sound is included in the Dot Ing

* "gourmet" Intervening dash vowel in third place, struck through the end of the GR stroke

* "self-service" All outlines beginning with "self-" are in second place, following the vowel of "self"

Here are some other items you might be offered on a cruise from any operator. You may have your own mini-bar with drinks, filtered water and snacks. Binoculars may be provided, a coffee maker and a luxury blanket for evenings on your veranda. You may have a king size bed and there will most probably be a 24-hour room service. Robes, slippers, toiletries and hair dryer are essential comforts and possibly a large flat-screen interactive television and movies on demand. You may have your own security safe and the convenience of direct dial satellite phone service and Wifi. Free laundry and drying cleaning service are helpful, as well as shoe shine and pressing. Your entertainment and wellbeing are catered for by the library, theatre with bands or cabaret, cinema, whirlpool* spa, sports arena, gym and fitness facilities, promenade and lido decks, multi-deck atrium or winter garden, hydro-therapy pool, salon*, shops and boutiques. Age-specific children’s programmes will keep the kids happily occupied in a safe environment and a night nursery caters for younger children. Your package may include a bottle of champagne to welcome you aboard and priority reservations for shore excursions.

* "whirlpool" Intervening dash vowel in third place, struck through the end of the PL stroke

* "salon" Insert the dash vowel in this and in "saloon" which have similar meanings

Now that you have a selection of cruising holiday vocabulary and practice with numbers, all that remains to do is to make sure you have packed a few shorthand notebooks and pencils, so that you can lie on the lounger beside the pool or relax in one of the living rooms, visualising in shorthand snatches of nearby conversations, and writing down any outline that did not come to mind quickly enough. But best of all, you are in the enviable position of being able to write a complete journal of your travels, if not on a cruise like this then just a trip to a nearby place of interest at home, without taking up precious vacation time in slow and laborious longhand. Afterwards the individual pages of shorthand can be scanned and collated with your digital photos into a unique scrapbook slideshow that will be both a pleasant reminder of happy times and also a revision resource that is a little more interesting than the normal dry passages in the book. You can even work in some transcription practice by typing in captions so that you can share the finished effort with your friends. (1066 words)