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A cruise without food


It happened on the Silver Wind in the summer of 1997.

Actually a large luxury yacht with 296 guests and 212 employees. It was the first cruise ship with only suites with balconies and an all-inclusive product. Drinks and gratuities were also included. We had about 70 percent U.S. Americans and about 30 percent mostly Europeans on board. The crew was from about 50 different nations. The deck and engine officers were Italians because the owner's family was from Italy.


 

We made the large so-called container orders of food and beverages, as well as non-food items often 6 months in advance. These goods were then shipped from the U.S. to the rest of the world in large shipping containers at three-month intervals.


I have been with Silversea Cruises since 1996 as a hotel director and recently transferred from the Silver Cloud to the Silver Wind.


A few months ago in February, we were awarded not only Best Cruise Line, but also World's Best Hotel.




After a 21 day cruise from Hong Kong - Vietnam - Singapore - Thailand - Burma - Andaman Islands - Sri Lanka we arrived on schedule in Bombay (now Mumbai), India.



 

We had a busy day ahead of us in Bombay. The trip was over and the last guests left the ship at 10:00 am. At 3:00 pm we had to be ready for a full load of new guests, who were already waiting for us since yesterday at the 5 star Taj Mahal Palace Hotel.


Taj Mahal Palace Hotel in Bombai.


 

Most guests also bought a pre- or post-package with an overland flight program to Agra to the Taj Mahal and to New Delhi. This program was then taken before or after the cruise.


Sunset at the Taj Mahal in Agra.


 

But Bombay also has different faces.




The Laundromat.


 

Already after the arrival in Bombay our port agent came to my office with bad news. The expected 4 containers with dry goods and beverages and 2 containers with frozen food from the USA were in the port for days, but could not yet be brought through customs, because the customs officers were on strike. It came still worse. Also the flight containers with all the fresh goods like vegetables, fruits, dairy products and also the live lobster could not be delivered because of the customs strike.



Of course, it was also still the weekend and no one was available at the main office in Fort Lauderdale, USA. So I called the Ship Chandler (a kind of general merchant who can get anything) to me. I put the container orders in his hand and asked him to deliver as much as possible before we left at 6:00 pm.


Now it was not a matter of getting the best products in the world, but anything at all.


In my office on the Silver Wind.


We then actually got goods that helped us for a few days. The ship chandler probably made the deal of his life, because we didn't worry about the price too much. I asked the port agent to immediately forward the 6 large containers to Piraeus, Greece

 

At 6:00 pm we left Bombay with our illustrious guests for a new 21 day cruise to Piraeus, Greece.


In our storerooms it looked like a bazaar. Instead of boxes, many of the fresh produce items came in a mesh of banana leaves, etc. All kinds of 'junk' dragged on board had to be destroyed first.


My department heads such as Food & Beverage Manager, Executive Chef, Provision Master, F&B Manager and Restaurant Manager had to be more than flexible. But in exceptional situations, the professionals run up to peak performance.



During the 3-day crossing through the Arabian Sea to Oman, we had enough time to catch our breath and set the next steps. Now the orders went to the shipchandlers of the destinations we had on the schedule.


The VIP's at my table in the restaurant.


 

Also on board was Mr. Tricceri with his youngest son Emanuel. Mr. Tricceri from Argentina had been on board as a full paying guest for a good 14 months and his son Emanuel also most of the time. The two were extremely pleasant and unobtrusive guests. Mr. Tricceri was over 80 years old at the time, but one would have guessed him closer to 70.


Regular guest tribute with Emanuel Tricceri in the middle with Captain Guido Mazzetti.


Mr. Tricceri actually ordered his bisteca (a thin rump steak) with 3 slices of toasted brown bread almost every night. A bottle of Vega Sicilia Gran Reserva always had to be on the table. This Spanish red wine cost at that time with us depending upon vintage between 400 and 1200 US dollars.

The very expensive wines and spirits were of course not included in our all-inclusive program. At one point, I had to confess to him that our supply was running low, as there were hardly any stocks of this wine available for purchase. Mr. Tricceri asked me to call the general manager of the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Barcelona, to say hello and to ask him to sell me 6 cases of the wine. This worked out wonderfully and the wine arrived shortly thereafter by air freight in Mascat, Oman.


Life on board took its usual course and no one noticed that the best hotel in the world actually had a desolate supply crisis.



 

After three days at sea, we reached Mascat in Oman.



The Ship Chandler was already in my office at 8:00 am and we went over the order list again. He was able to supply many of the missing food items and soft drinks.

 

In addition, high ranking visitors had registered. Mr. Tricceri had asked for visitor passes for the Sultan of Oman and his bodyguards. In almost every port on the globe, some bigwig visited Mr. Tricceri.


The Sultan of Oman in his Rolls Royce.



Captain Guido Mazzetti, me and the bodyguards.


I have always kept a proper distance even from our good regulars. It was rumored that Mr. Tricceri used to be a grain merchant and perhaps an arms dealer.

 

We spent the night in Mascat.


The following morning, Captain Mazzetti flew to Imperia, Italy for his well-deserved vacation. His replacement was Captain Emanuele Chiesa from La Spezia, Italy.


With Captain Guido Mazzetti on the bridge.


 

We departed in the evening at 6:00 pm and arrived in Salala, Oman the following morning.



On that day, I accompanied our Provision Master and the Executive Chef to the market.


Fresh fish was always regularly bought locally.


Our Chefs with F&B Manager Freddie.

 

In the evening, the journey continued to Yemen.


Also on board were regular guests Dr. and Mrs. Harris from Liverpool, England. Last winter on a Caribbean cruise on the Silver Cloud, Dr. Harris approached me. He said he had seen me go golfing from time to time and he would like to play a round with me sometime.


I have been playing golf for ten years and always had my 'silverware' with me on the ship.


I went on to play the legendary course at Sandy Lane Resort in Barbados with Dr. Harris.



Me and Mrs. Harris after golfing at Sandy Lane at lunch.


The Harris family was of the Jewish faith and Dr. Harris ran his dental hospital in Liverpool, as he called it, with 120 employed dentists.


Mr. Harris always went to bed early in the evening, and he asked me to join his wife for a drink at the nightclub. As I said before, the distance offered was omnipresent in this case as well.


 

The following morning we docked in al - Mukalla, Yemen.



I was ready in the office at 7:00 am. I found a note slipped under the door by the Night Auditor that said to call Dr. Harris immediately. I was worried, of course, if Mrs. Harris might have told her spouse some untruths. I called Dr. Harris at his suite. He told me that he received a call from home at 2:00 am that his mother had passed away. I would have to help him return to England as soon as possible. We were then able to arrange a flight from Aden, Yemen for the following day. The Harris couple was very grateful and they invited me to Liverpool in return.


By the way, we were of course also here at the market and bought again something useful for the daily menu.


At 6:00 pm the journey continued to Aden, Yemen.

 

We anchored promptly at 8:00 am off the city of Aden in Yemen.



Top regular guests Mr. and Mrs. Sahli from Switzerland.


Here we were able to grab something more at the market than the day before.

We left again at 6:00 pm on the way through the Red Sea to Aqaba, Jordan.



 

After two days at sea, we arrived in Aqaba, Jordan at 7:00 am in the morning.



Silversea Cruises had one special shore excursion per trip that was included in the price. The so-called Silversea Eperience. We've had a classical concert at the Roman temple complex of Ephesus in Turkey, a private showing of the Bolshoi Ballet in St. Petersburg, etc.


This afternoon most of the guests left us for the desert. There we had an outdoor dinner in the evening, slept in Bedouin tents with butler service and the following day visited the rock city of Petra.


Our guests in authentic outfits before leaving for the desert.


Our Captain Chiesa and our Chief Engineer also went on the tour.


In the background you can see an American aircraft carrier, we'll get to that in a moment.


The atmosphere at dinner in the desert.


Since only a few guests remained on board, we unceremoniously organized a crew Bedouin party in the Night Club.



 

As already mentioned, the following day the tour led to Petra.


The rock city of Petra, carved in stone.


The 39 meter tall Temple Ad Deir.


 

Around 10:00 in the morning, I received a call from the gangway. Waiting for me was an extremely attractive lady in uniform. She was the supply officer of the aircraft carrier. The unit included 12 other warships at anchor.


The USS Tarawa was a special aircraft carrier of the US Navy Seals, the American elite force par excellence.


Crew 960 officers and sailors plus 2000 Marines.


The lady handed me an invitation from the Commodore of the unit for the three most senior officers of the Silver Wind to visit the aircraft carrier at 4:00 pm. I had to excuse our Captain and Chief Engineer, as both were in Petra and were not expected back until about 6:00 pm. I gladly accepted the invitation.


I was met by the commodore, the captain of the aircraft carrier and the supply lady. It was an experience that I will never forget. I sat in the largest Black Hawk helicopter at that time, in a Harrier that can take off vertically and I was allowed to look at all the amphibious vehicles in the basement, with which one could swim and drive.


There wasn't much going on on the ship because the Marines were doing their training program in the desert. I also toured the galley and saw the world's largest gym with 800 machines, as well as a completely empty lower deck where a few ladies were doing their aerobics classes. If you turned your gaze to the ceiling, there were 120 ready-made intensive care units lashed down there that could be lowered in an emergency. Of course, depending on the theater of war, this also made one the largest hospital in the place.


There were two bridges on the carrier, the lower one for the captain and his officers and the upper one for the commodore and his officers.

Behind the upper bridge was a huge hall. All four walls were a huge digital screen showing every civilian and war ship on all the oceans of the world. The commodore could tell me exactly that on day X we would be leading the convoy through the Suez Canal.



It was really impressive. I left the USS Tarawa around 5:30 pm, as I wanted to be on board before our guests returned home. I countered an invitation for an aperitif aboard the Silver Wind at 19:30 with dinner afterwards at my table.


As the 3 officers filed into the bar in their white gala uniforms, our American guests stood at attention and saluted. Many of them served in WW2 in the Pacific and with the Allies against Hitler. It was a very moving moment, even for the American officers.


The Bar - Silver Wind.


We had dinner together with our captain afterwards and I took our guests back to their ship just before midnight.


The Restaurant - Silver Wind.


The commodore pressed a medal into my hand and promised me that I would always be welcome as a guest in the U.S. Navy anywhere in the world.


Of course I still have the medal today, you never know.....


By the way, also in Aqaba we could fill up the storerooms again a little bit.


We left at midnight in the direction of Safaga, Egypt.

 

At 8:00 am we docked in the industrial port of Safaga, Egypt. Safaga is actually not a very nice destination. But from Safaga you can take a bus to Luxor and the Valley of the Kings.


We used to stay there overnight with Silversea Cruises because we offered an overland tour to the Aswan Dam with an overnight stay in a hotel. This time 80 guests had booked this trip. That was two full buses.


Luxor.


The valley of the kings.


Our Cruise Director (Department Head for the entertainment on board) accompanied this Overland Tour to Aswan. A crew tour with a good 80 employees also went to Luxor that day. They were supposed to be back on duty at 4:00 pm.


Aswan.


Around 4:00 p.m. I received a satellite call from the Cruise Director that the two buses had been ambushed and that they were being shot at. Then he hung up on me again.


Now we had no idea if they would make it to their hotel in Aswan or if they would make it back to Safaga. Anyway, we had to be prepared that we might have 80 more guests on board for dinner. We expected the normal Luxor tour back around 8:00 pm.


When the crew tour was not back at 4:00 pm, we suspected bad things. There was no communication at all. The port agent told us that terrorists were supposed to have carried out an attack in Upper Egypt.


After a short meeting with my people, we decided to serve a buffet in the evening. This way we were flexible and could manage it with less staff.


We could assume that our guests were really pissed off and we had to take the wind out of their sails. In no time at all, we printed signs and our reception looked like this:



The Overland Tour arrived back almost simultaneously with the Luxor Tour around 8:00 pm. Our reception with iced towels, champagne and a very big smile from a top team amazed even the most difficult guests.


The crew tour did not return until 9:00 pm. The whole upper Nile valley was closed, but thank God everyone came home safely.


The following morning we organized a free transport for all guests to Hurghada and everyone was happy again.


At 6:00 pm we left Safaga for the Suez Canal.

 

At 3:30 am we reached the assembly point for the Suez convoy and anchored at the entrance to Suez. The hierarchy: warships first, then passenger ships and then cargo ships. As predicted by the commodore, we led the convoy of about 300 ships and started at 4:00 am.



Suez.


In between, a short interview with the guests.


That evening we offered dinner around the swimming pool on deck under the stars.



After a boring passage with a lot of desert right and left we reached Port Said, Egypt at midnight.


Port Said.


 

Port Said.


The following morning it was possible to book half and full day excursions to Cairo and the pyramids to Giza.


Cairo.


Gizeh.


Port Said was a very good day for our shopping. In the meantime we had made it to the Mediterranean with our empty stores and no guest noticed anything.


At midnight we sailed.


 

At 8:00 am the ship was moored in the port of Alexandria, Egypt.


My favorite city in Egypt, Alexandria.

At 6:00 pm was departure.

 

We spent the next two days at sea and by 8:00 am the next morning we were in Bodrum, Turkey.



Bodrum, a beautiful place.


The real luxury with small ships is that you can call at destinations where the big ships can't or aren't allowed to go.


Again, we left at 6:00 p.m. after being very successful in the market.


 

The next morning we were anchored off the windmills of Mykonos, Greece.



There was little to buy here except fresh fish. At 4:00 pm we sailed away.


That evening there was the obligatory Captain Farewell Party and Farewell Dinner.


With very nice regulars at my table.


 

After a quiet day at sea, we arrived in Piraeus, Greece at 7:00 am and our journey was complete.



The containers were already waiting at the pier and could be unloaded. For our guests, too, the journey would end here. Also for Mr. Tricceri and his son Emanuel. The next trip was through France. Emanuel was a French citizen and was supposed to still be doing his military service.


Therefore Mr. Tricceri and his son flew to their estate in Scotland. For me, too, the journey was over here. Mr. Tricceri told me that I should come and visit him. I flew to Zurich and and was home two hours later.


After four months in a row without a day off, you get a little tired.


Logistics problems with containers have also existed in the past, not only today in times of Corona and war. But you just have to look for alternatives.


Our guest reviews for this trip were just as good as ever in recent times and we won the prestigious Conde Nast Award again the following year.



 

The best, as always, comes at the end.


When I went through the mail at home, there was a letter from our company. It was from our president, Bill Smith. The Silver Wind made an advertised golf trip around the British Isles in August. He invited me to a charity golf tournament at the venerable Gleneagles Golf Course in Scotland. I also received an invitation.


Now I called Mr. Tricceri in Scotland. Guess where he was staying? One of the three private bungalows on the Gleneagles Resort belonged to him. Then I called Dr. Harris in Liverpool.


In August, I flew to Liverpool and visited the Harris family. I spent three days there. Dr. Harris was a member of the Royal Lytham & St Annes Golf Club and we played a round together there. This historic golf course has hosted the Ryder Cup several times. For a non-member normally almost an impossibility to play there.


Mrs. Harris took me on a Beatles tour, showing me the Cavern Club, Abbey Road and Strawberry Fields.



Abbey Road with the Beatles.


After that I rented a car and drove to Scotland. When I arrived at Mr. Tricceri's house, there were 4 cars in front of the garages of his bungalow. A Rolls Royce, a Bentley, a Bentley convertible and a Mercedes Jeep. After the greeting he told me that except the Rolls Royce all cars were at my free disposal.


The five-star Gleneagles Hotel in Auchterarder, Scotland.


Ich wohnte im Tricceri Bungalow. Das Frühstück wurde als Zimmerservice vom Hotel gebracht. Das Abendessen wurde im Hotel eingenommen. Die Flasche Vega Sicilia stand natürlich schon auf dem Tisch.


Mr. Tricceri was smoking his Cohiba after breakfast and somehow he felt the need to tell me who he was.

Mr. Tricceri came from a moderately well-off family in Buenos Aires. As a twelve year old he changed money for the arriving crew members of ships, as it was said to be quite complicated at the bank at that time. This is how he earned his first money. His family was friends with the Peron family. Although the future president was 20 years older than him, they were friends. Peron went on to a career in the military. Mr. Tricceri later wanted the same. But he was not taken because he was too small. So he started trading in grain. The company Mautner - Markhof in Austria was also among his clients.


He did good business in Germany after the building of the Wall. The West Germans wanted to buy out important people from the East. For this, Mr. Tricceri delivered 150 tons of wheat to East Berlin and sent the bill to Bonn. The Bild newspaper later said that the West Germans had helped the poor brothers in the East.


Mr. Tricceri's closeness to President Peron became his undoing after Peron's fall. He showed me a newspaper article that he had used a submarine to smuggle Argentina's gold reserves out of the country. He told me that at that time there had been no gold reserves in Argentina for a long time. Mr. Tricceri was summarily expropriated and had to flee to Europe with his wife, eight children and his Italian butler Bruno.


Through his friend King Leopold of Belgium, he was able to move into a small castle on Lake Geneva. At some point, his wife eloped with the Italian butler and Mr. Tricceri needed a nanny. He hired a young aspiring actress who was Egyptian and French. This is the mother of son Emanuel.


Tricceri had few relationships with his other eight children, as they chose the wrong partners to his liking.


When Carlos Menem ran for president in Argentina in 1983, Mr. Tricceri sent him $3 million US for his campaign. Mr. Tricceri showed me a letter signed and sealed by President Menem stating that he officially apologized for his people and that the US $400 million plus interest that was stolen from him would be transferred shortly. Mr. Tricceri had no need for the money and has invested it all in a social foundation in Argentina.


I was in Aucherarder for a week and played all three courses (King's, Queen's and Monarch Course). Simply a dream for every golfer.


It rained in the morning at the Charity Tournament day. When the guests arrived at the clubhouse, a big TV was on with the broadcast of Lady Diana's funeral. Thus, the start of the tournament was postponed from 10:00 am to 2:00 pm.


In the clubhouse at Gleneagles.


In my foursome flight, apart from me and Emanuel Tricceri, the former Formula One driver Jacky Steward and the original James Bond Sean Connery were assigned.


Jackie Steward runs one of the most famous sport shooting schools in the world in Gleneagles. Sean Connery was anything but a gentleman, by the way, but I was warned. After the funeral, no real mood wanted to arise and in the evening we went to bed early.


Jackie Steward Shooting School.


 

The following morning I said goodbye to the Tricceris and drove back to London. There I said goodbye to Lady Di at Kensington Palace.



Then it was back to Zurich by plane.

 


In this sense........

 

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Klaus Riezler.


 


 
 











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