There are various modes of transportation available between United Kingdom and Netherlands. Euro-star train is the most popular among them and of course the fastest mode as well. And, the slowest of them would be a cruise taking a whole night to sail across. But, as I always say, don’t rush but relax when on a holiday and the reason behind this may-be-not-required praise for an overnight cruise would be, I availed this cruise and may be quite amazing than out of the world experience I had; I surely though carried a story of humbleness and thoughtfulness from this few hours’ journey.
The cruise to Netherlands, embarks at Harwich and disembarks at Hook of Holland, the entire journey is about 8:30 to 9 hours. For first timers like me, it was no less than a small festive city, which had spacious restaurants, cafes, shops, play areas and few more things to enjoy within that time. My Europe trip was actually with my family and to add to it, it was a group tour, so we were about 40-45 people in that group and this Stenaline cruise we boarded, is favourably used to of getting regular Indian clients on their ship. For Dinner specifically, they arrange a special Indian buffet dinner for the Indian groups and the seating arrangement is slightly secluded than the rest of the guests in the cruise; and also there are service men specially allotted to cater to their special Indian tourists
This Stenaline cruise is very time bound, only when it comes to meal time; after checking into the cruise, we were strictly asked to have our dinner first or starve for the rest of the night. So we all ran to the restaurants after giving a peek to our allotted cabins. The choice of food was a mix of Continental and Indian with different kinds of fresh fruits and wobbly Jelly for desert. We were binging our food for about 20 minutes, that few men with black bow tied on their white half sleeves shirts stood at a corner by the large waste box with wiping cloths on one hand.
‘All used plates are to be carried by every individual and to be handed over to the designated gentlemen or keep at the table beside them.’ Announced, re-announced and reminded even after by our tour manager.
As commanded, we had to follow as we always do when in abroad, the stewards however were quite off the mood to find another of those clattering groups; and quite dull was their ‘Thank you’ to every guests who handed their plates with no acknowledgement in return.
I got up from my chair to dispose my plates, while my mother, who gets way too heave during her holidays, handed me her own as if that’s my all time purposeful job in life! So taking 3 plates in hand I went to dispose them and found all the stewards busy with other guests, I decided to drop them on the table next to them, but someone answered,
‘Here Ma’am, give it to me, thank you.’ That was even gloomier, seeing three plates in one hand may be!
‘No, Thank you.. it’s all of you who need it. Thank you so much for helping.’
‘No problem, it’s our job..’ oh I see a light in those eyes and the bold head is shining more!
I carried on with some fresh fruits and was ready to dispose the plate, and I could see that particular gentleman, must be at his 40 with well trimmed beard, was waiting with a brighter face to collect plates from the guests and at times a little smile on his face.
‘Thank you very much Sir’, as he collected my plate.
‘You are welcome ma’am. Where are you all from?’
‘We are from India’
‘Ok, I have heard so much about India; someday I will go for sure.’
‘That’s so nice to know. I am sure you will like the country even more than you have heard of.’
‘Even I hope so. So, you are going to Netherlands? Where in Netherlands?’
‘We will go to Amsterdam, and then a day after we are moving to France.’
‘oh! That’s quite a short time for Netherlands. I am a Dutch, and I can tell you, there’s so much to see in this country.’
‘You know, I agree with you, but for group tours, this is how it’s designed.’
‘I see. Which all places you will be going after Netherlands then?’
‘Oh, Beautiful! The weather at Switzerland will be quite pleasant now.’
‘I will take your word.. I am sure you have a lot of work pending, I guess I should leave you with your work now.’
‘Yes, work is always there. Will you be here for the breakfast tomorrow?’
‘Yes, we will be, provided breakfast is served here.’
‘Yes, in this room only.’
‘Then I will be here.’
‘Great we will meet once again, have a nice evening.’
‘You too Sir, Good night.
The next morning was so busy for all service people of the cruise, the ship docks at 8 in the morning and before that all work has to be wrapped up by all the workers. At the breakfast room, I could see everyone running to get discharged of their duty, and I couldn’t see any sign of that happy man. We were done with our breakfast, and I managed to stuff some bread, cheese, a half-done omelette and coffee. We were just leaving..
‘Good morning, did you sleep well.’
‘Hello and very good morning. I wasn’t the one working late, so slept enough.’
‘Oh, there’s no sleep for me, it’s my working hours. Once we get off the ship, then it’s a sleep time for me.’
‘Oh, right. I thought you still get some time to rest.’
‘No, not that lucky! So I wish you a very good journey. Do come back to Europe and may be take this cruise again?’
‘Why not? This cruise is amazing to go for another ride. I also hope you get to come to India very soon.’
And we parted with a shake of hands and a sunny bright smile on his face.