HAL blogger Gary Frink was sailing on board Oosterdam and this is the last posts from his voyage.
Aboard Oosterdam en route to Honolulu to Vancouver.
This is our last full day aboard the Oosterdam. We first found our way to cabin 4082, and the large orange life boat hanging three feet out our window, in Auckland N.Z., Saturday, March 30. Now we are in May. The end is near. Reality is slowly slipping into our consciousness.
Little mimics real middle-class life during a long voyage on a Holland America ship: Every need and material desire is provided for, great varieties of well-prepared food in varied dining locales, including 24 hour room service, and special culinary events (last evening a chocolate extravaganza began at 10 pm); during the day, lectures, games of trivia, bridge tournaments, sports contests, books, magazines to be read and puzzles to be solved in the ship library, workouts in the gym; in the evening, entertainment (sometimes energetically and melodically laid out by the lavishly-costumed, ship ensemble of 12 singers and dancers) presented on the large stage in the ship show theater, music in four lounges for listening or dancing, and importantly for Jeanne, the casino. Medical attention is always available. My late mother would have summed up our voyage: ”You have been waited on hand and foot.” Indeed!
Yesterday, we indulged ourselves during a formal, four-course (including desert), white-table-cloth luncheon in the formal dining room (our habit is to eat a large late breakfast in the 9th deck buffet dining area, then a light salad at 3-4 pm, again on the 9th deck or from room service.) Dinner is at 8 pm in the dining room. During lunch I said to Jeanne: “We could live on a cruise ship.” It is a truth that has been upon us for years.
He handed me his card. It reads: The Baron of Inneryne—Ascog Castle—Tighnabruaich. I was about to interview Ronald Reisinger, AKA, The Baron of Inneryne.
I had noticed The Baron. His countenance is difficult to avoid, within the confines of the Oosterdam. By his own admission, he is “well into my seventies” and by my observation, over six feet tall and I would hunch weigh in, if there were a Toledo Scale on board, at well-over 300 pounds. If his size were not enough to make the Baron stand out in a crowd of Australian, American and Canadian bland, middle-everything looking folks, on formal evenings the Baron wears an elaborate Scottish-kilt “black tie” outfit. I approached him last evening and asked if I might take a photo of him in his formal-night regalia; he readily agreed.
It seemed I asked the wrong question when I inquired about the gross acreage of the Baron’s Scotland land-holdings. “We have land all over Scotland,” he said. “It has been in the family since 990.” He is the father of five — ranging in age from 45 to 15 — by two wives (though he told me a delightful tale about how he “accidentally married” a 12 year old girl, in an African country I had not heard of: Biffeche. “When I divorced her, the goats and sheep I gave her made her the richest woman in the village.”
The Baron is possessed of 19 half brothers and sisters, by virtue of merrily-marrying parents (his mother married seven times, his father five.) After explaining that his mother was a Swede and his father half Scot and half German, he said “I’m what is known as Euro Trash.”
The Baron asserted that he lives part of the year in the U.S., with his American wife, “in her 40s.” “I have homes in Florida and Michigan.” He told me of some of the difficulty he went through to divest to his children some of his titles: “I once had 40 titles.” It seems the divestiture was not an easy task: “I must have employed every feudal lawyer in the kingdom,” he said.
“I have a Ph. D. and a law degree,” he told me. Possessed of one of the latter myself, I asked him the origin of his law degree. “Washington University, in Saint Louis.” As I understand it from our conversation, the Reisinger Family is tied in with the St. Louis beer-fame Busch family. “There’s a Busch-Reisinger museum at Harvard,” he asserted.
The ship made its first stop in Australia at Hobart, the capital of the island state of Tasmania I had long planned to go to the Museum of Old and New Art, an idiosyncratic project of a Tasmanian math genius who made his fortune beating gambling casinos world-wide out of significant sums of cash. Alas, it was closed on Tuesday, our day in Hobart. We took a hop-on-hop-off bus. We got off at a brewery. We declined to get off to view the remains of a brutal and vile (according to the guide/driver) British Colonial woman’s prison.
The new work-life of the Oosterdam and its crew is taking shape. Alaskan artifacts are beginning to appear around the public areas of the ship. The Oosterdam will be working the Seattle-Alaska run, until it turns around in October and returns the aforementioned passenger-couple, who lives in Melbourne and California, to Australia for the continent-countries’ summer season.