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How I experienced the People's Republic of China, Part II

Meanwhile onboard the Royal Viking Star interesting thing happened. Hotel Manager Tore Elisassen left and Franz Langer was promoted. Shortly after that Dietmar Wertanzl was promoted to Chief Steward. Sigi Maier moved to the Royal Viking Sky.


Captain Vebenstadt, Franz Langer, Dietmar Wertanzl, Urs Keller, Chief Officer Gustav Berge, ?. in Alaska that summer.


On Alaska I made a different blog story.


I rejoined the Royal Viking Star on the last Alaska Cruise of the season and then did the Northern Pacific crossing down to Japan.

Provision Master Relief, Luis Moosmann, F&B Controller Josef Matt, Hotel Manager Franz Langer.


In Kobe Japan the autumn China program started all over again.

Franz in his creme colored pants made by Tailor Michel Yuen in Hong Kong and Urs.


Now I was a little officer with access to public areas.


Probably just like in the spring season in China in almost every port we had to attend these silly luncheons either ashore or onboard with the Chinese authorities. I was always invited by Franz Langer. He did not do that, because he liked me so much, but rather to show his power. For him it was very important, that I would speak favorably about him back home in Mellau. All the others were 4 and 3 stripers. Franz had a bizzare mind, I will come to that later on.

Anyway after every course we had to do a toast on the friendship with the Chinese raising this terrible maotai, which tasted like sewage.

After a while I had to find excuses, because I had some work to do as well


Captain Ola Harsheim with Maitre d' Theodoros Savva and Head Waiter Salvatore Casu.


Dinner at the Peace Hotel in Shanghai with Josef Matt, me and the two Gitanes smoker Franz and Urs.


The part-time DJ at the Crew Bar.


A fun afternoon on Monkey Island with top service guaranteed by Deck Steward Kemal in Dalian.


The Friendshop Store at Beijing.


A space party with consequences.

Most of the Crew Bar and the costumes were covered with aluminium foil. Franz Langer was really upset. His secretary had to write a long memo, stating that the tin foil was not to be used for private purposes.


A private dinner for a chosen few.


In Hong Kong Mr. Ulrich Baur came onboard. He stayed at Penthouse No. 1.

If you needed to talk with him you had to sign up for a meeting. It was like requesting an audience with the pope. I just felt that the difference of my wage from Purser Asst. to F&B Controller was just too little. The conversation took 5 minutes. Baur was a master of persuasion. By the time I left the Penthouse, I didn't even remember, what my question was.


At the Hotel Manager's Party. The only official invitation, the one striper Hotel Officers got.


Maitre d' Theo Savva and his Head Waiters Vito Scobba and Salvatore Casu.


Lunch somewhere in Shanghai with the gang.


I did a short contract and got off in November prior the the SKALD Cruise. But I have to add this cruise as the Royal Viking Star made a maiden call in China.

Maiden call at Zhanjiang, China.


Provision Party with Luis Moosmann and my vacation relief Alex Don.


I returned prior to the Christmas Cruise 1984.

It was nice to see familiar faces again. Us Keller with his girlfriend stewardess Elsebeth and stewardess Vigdis and me.


Chinese Laundry Dinner Party.


Distilling schnapps onboard the Royal Viking Star.

On the last cruise from Hong to Sydney, Austrialia, Provision Master Luis Moosmann called me in the office, after we just left Hong Kong. He received 2000 lb of pears, instead of 1000 lb.

I suggested to contact Sims trading and tell them. Probably they would give us the pears for free, as we were top customers. This is exactly what happened. As the following orders have been processed already, Luis suggested jokingly that we should distill schnapps. Neither one us of have ever made schnapps, but I watching my uncle back home serveral times, doing it. I knew that we needed a liquor scale in order to determine the alcohol content. I called my mother from shoreside and asked her to get one send it express to the port agent in Sydney .Meanwhile Luis got a bunch of new 32 gallons garbage bins out from the sundries locker in the Forepeak. He gut the pears and stores them in the liquor store, next to the Engine Shop. The scale arrived and the postage was about tenfold of the price of the scale.

Luckily there was an instruction manual inside of how to distill schnapps.

By the time we got back to Hong Kong our pears were already bubbling. Story continues.

Luis Moosmann and Walter Schippel at the Crew Bar.


Bar Tender Steve Gilbert and the Casino Manager. Steve's brother Bill was wine consultant for Royal Viking Line at that time.


In 1985 in the spring season China was on the program again. On one hand it was getting boring for all of us and on the other we loved the off-time during our stay in Xingang.

On the first China cruise my brother Norbert started as a Deck Steward. A warm welcome from our lovely Hostess Carole Klein in Hong Kong.


The Photographer Team. Normally two, in China three.


Dietmar Wertanzl made vacation relief for Franz Langer.

This foto was taken in the Ondine Room (Bergen Lounge entrance) , which did not exist onboard the Royal Viking Sky and Sea.


In Hong Kong Ulrich Baur came onboard again. Also this time he stayed at a Penthouse. He called in every single Hotel Officer, one by one. What Franz Langer did, was inexcusable and he would certainly not return to the company, he said. He just did not tell us, what Franz did wrong.

We all had no clue at all.

I don't like to destroy the nice reputation Franz had, but he had a weird personality. While I was home in November, the rumor started that Franz had an affair with Gerhard Bischofberger wife (boss of the Hotel Sonne) and that he was the father of the two small children. It was Franz himself, who fired that rumor. One could see a mile against the wind, that the children belonged to Gerhard.

After my return to the Royal Viking Star, one day he purchased a foto frame in the Sundt Shop and framed a foto of the two kids. This picture frame was now sitting on his office desk and he began to tell people about his children.

Already last fall Thomas Berktold from Dornbirn, Austria joined the ship as a deck Steward. He is a brother of Gerhard Bischofberger's wife.

Provision Master Luis Moosmann visited me the other day and we discussed this subject. Also he was called in by Baur then. He thinks Baur was totally pissed off, when he saw the two big brass signs at the dining room entrances, explaining the dress code. Apparently Franz had them made in Hong Kong without asking anybody.

But is this reason enough to let a Hotel Manager with a flawless performance go?

Provision Master Luis Moosmann from Sulzberg - Thal, Austria testing the Gym onboard the Royal Viking Star.

I personally heard, that Baur was shocked, when he saw the cream colored officer uniforms, made by the Hong Tailor Shop of Michael Yuen.

What makes this episode really strange, is the fact that Franz arrived a couple of month later with a big grin on his face. He was promoted to Senior Hotel Manager.

Until his fatal car accident on Brickell Avenue, Miami in 1986, I could never find out, what really happened. Perhaps some of you know more than me.


So now Dietmar Wertanzl was permanent Hotel Manager after having been Chief Steward for 6 month or so. Dietmar went to a very good Hotel Management school in Austria and I had no doubt, that he would do well.


The Norwegian Dancers.


Mai-Britt an me.

I have to share a funny story about Dietmar with you. As always the bundle of cruise end documents from the F&B Controller needed to be signed by the Hotel Manager, before it was sent to the office. These reports were very comprehensive and for an outsider just not understandable. Usually the Hotel Managers did not show any weakness and just signed them. But Dietmar, young and eager had a lot of questions. At the end I tried to tell him in a nice way, that he would not understand it anyway. This triggered the only written warning I ever got in my life for misbehavior towards a superior position.



May 17. 1985 in port of Dalian.

Norway's Constitution Day with our parade around Promenade Deck.

I never forget the speech of Captain Harsheim. He stood on the wooden rim of the swimming pool on Scandinavia Deck aft. In his dramatic speech he said: Many countries show their weapons on their National Holidays. We in Norway show our children. I thought that was pretty cool.


The Bar Team with Bar Manager Heikki.


On this cruise the new galley equipment was waiting for us in Xingang. Ulrich Baur ordered for us a brand new main galley from Elro of Switzerland with state of the art equipment. The assemblymen dismantled the entire galley and installed the new equipment during our stay in Xingang.

The next day Provision Master Luis had a glorious idea. Why not ask our Norwegian engine repairmen to dismantle an old soup kettle and use the inside as a hut for our distillery. It was stainless steel not copper, but it should do the trick just the same. This would then be welded on a base of 1 meter in square. On top of the hut we needed a sleeve in order to attach a plastic hose there, which would be led through a garage bin full of ice cubes. The whole construction we would then mount on one of the compartments of the huge steam driven sink at the the butcher Shop with a rubber seal in-between. We would attach the construction with clamps. Story continues.


Crew tour to Beijing with a lot of familiar faxes from the galley.

Penthouse Butler Mikael Mikaelis from Cyprus.


The Bar Team with Bar Manager Toni Spyro.


The Royal Viking Star docked at Nagasaki.


In Kobe I went shore to purchase the glue for our schnapps bottle labels. Luis had put aside plenty of liquor bottles with the labels removed, he was fishing for the corresponding screw tops in the garbage. Our label was made by the Skald Editor and printed by the printer.

Luis Moosmann and Bar Manager Turid.

During our stay we started distilling the material of the first garbage bin. This was a top secret mission and besides the ones involved only Urs and Peter Leypold knew about it. We starte on the first night of Xingang at midnight. Everything went well, but our schnapps streamed out from the hose as steam not as liquid. We made on big error. The hose had too much insulation and we needed copper pipe with a spiral. So we moved the pears back into the Garbage bin and urs and Peter were just laughing at us when they stopped by from Crew Bar.

The Engine Repairmen tried to make the copper pipe and failed. In Hong Kong I made a drawing for the ship chandler and ten minutes before we departed, he returned with a beautiful piece.

Next cruise in Xingang we started all over again. In two nights we distilled 60 liters of perfect Williams pear schnapps of top quality. When we were finished, we presented a bottle to Captain Harsheim. I am quite certain, this was a first on any ship afloat.

Our label. The Skald Editor had this piece laying around . He took the headline off and changed it to WORKING SPIRIT.


The Royal Viking Star docked in Hong Kong.


Bar Tender David harassing my brother Norbert.



Once in Kobe the representative of Fuji Trading invited Luis Moosmann and me to a fish restaurant for lunch. He ordered a 8 course meal. The firs t 4 courses were raw fish. Now the 2 Bregenzerwälder had to get to know Sushi and Sashimi. Then a steaming hot plates with covers arrived. Luis and I were looking forward to some proper food. When the cover was lifted, we stared at huge fish heads. It was an experience I never forgot.


I left the ship in June in Juneau, Alaska and joined the Royal Viking Sky in August of 1985 as F&B Controller and then as Provision Master.


The Royal Viking Star did still the regular China seasons. These pictures I have received from our dear colleague waiter Remy Chartois from France. He took them in 1986.

The Royal Viking Star approaching Shanghai.

Bye the way. Sometimes we docked further down the river at a container terminal. Here the ship was repositioned due to low tide.

Private tour into the country side of Shanghai.

Remy in the centre.


The tours to Wuxi and Suzhou.

Remy and his Chinese tour escort in Suzhou.

Remy met his tour guide some 30 years later in Hong Kong.


The tour to the children circus.


Remy escorting 'his' bus to Beijing.

Remy told me, that on this tour the brand new Shangri-La hotel in Beijing was used for our passengers for the first time. The hotel was not completely finished yet. There were a few US consultants there and our passengers were used as Guinea Pigs, so to speak.


The Welcome Gala Dinner at the Beijing Hotel.


Great Wall.



How can I ever show my gratitude to you. Perhaps with a bookmark?

Thank you Frenchy.



The first Toyota Word Convention took place in autumn of 1985.

Maitre d' Arnold and Head Waiter Vargas.


In Oktober 1985 the Royal Viking Star docked at Zhanjiang, China again.


The crew is having fun in the Bergen Lounge in Xingang.


I missed a lot of parties.


The Royal Viking Star did in 1986 her regular schedule with South Pacific and Asia in the winter, China in spring and fall and during the summer month in Alaska.

The Bar Team in 1986.


Fun in the Crew Bar.


Embarkation in Kobe.

Cruise Director Peter Longley and his Assistant Barbara.


Welcome Party with Captain Ola Harsheim.


Crew Cook Eugen.

Crew Steward John Gjerde and his team.


Meanwhile Beijing was getting more and more westernized.


Bar Staff Deborah and Jaimie.


This season Luis Moosmann and Urs Keller were distilling schnapps again, this time with leftover pineapples. The Schnapps was served during the big Austrian Party in Xingang.

The Austrian Party was planned ahead for weeks. When I was on vacation at home, Roman Feurstein's mother told me that she had to send 6 pairs of Lederhosen to Hong Kong. Executive Chef Manfred Schönleitner sent out a memo, asking for input on Austrian desserts and sweets. A folk dance group startet doing rehearsals.

During the stay in Xingang in the Dining Room a marquee with crepe paper was put in place.

The Main Galley looked like an Asutrian mountain village.

Captain Harsheim had to try the pineapple Schnapps.

The wood chopper dance.

At the Cafe Vienna about 40 different sweets were made available on the buffet. The mountain hut was in full swing. Luis Moosmann was the DJ in the Main Galley.


In November 1986 I rejoined the Royal Viking Star. Meanwhile I have been promoted to Chief Steward.

Hannes Furlan was Hotel Manager then. Ulrich Baur offered him the position after the tragic accident of Franz Langer.

My Chief Steward uniform was provided by Michel Yuen. So Franz Langer was not so far off, after all.


Hotel Manager Hannes Furlan and Maitre d' Piero Staffieri.


Another funny story about our Hong Kong Tailor.

Most of the cooks had their white blouses made by Michael Yuen with their insignias in Chinese letters. At that time Fritz Mariacher was Sous Chef and Executive Chef vacation relief. One morning the Chinese Laundry Master bursted out in laughter, when he saw Mariacher's insignia spelled in Chinese. Michael Yuen played a trick on him, and the letter read Crazy Horse. Not so far off, either.


Foto shooting for the new uniform booklet with top models.


Maitre d' Vito Scobba and Head Waiter Roman Feurstein from Mellau, Austria.


Executive Chef Urs Keller, Sous Chef Sigi Bierbaumer, First Cooks Hot Galley Klaus Wankmiller and Herbert Aigner.


We always purchased loads of canned sliced mushroom, a year supply of canned tomato paste which was of excellent quality and boxes of frozen spring rolls in Shanghai.

Every couple of month we received the ordered goods via 40 feet containers to Hong Kong.

These were frozen meat, poultry and vegetables, dry stores, sundry items, all beverages.

On a normal container storing we took 8 containers onboard. 24 pallets per container made about 200 pallets in addition to the regular fresh stores ordered for that day.


Captain's Brudvik's wife Maggie.


My girlfriend Rønnaug was transferred already before me from Royal Viking Sky to the Star. She was Sundt Shop Manageress.

She put on these very entertaining fashion shows. The models were officers, staff and crew. Even Mr. Paul Newman Captain Brudvik was in it.


A ladies group from Australian


Overlapping with Jack Jakobsen.


We left the ship for vacation on April 16. 1987 in Hong Kong on the last leg of the Pacific memories Cruise.

My vacation relief Jack Jakobsen and his wife, who was relieving Rønnaug.


We were rejoining the Royal Viking Star on May 5 in Hong Kong.


This year was a killer. China 'In Depth'. I might just as have applied for a Chinese citizenship.

Spring, summer and autumn in China. Slowly but surely I was becoming the China expert and I was getting pretty fed up with it.

The China crusies were selling like hot cakes and the company acted accordingly.

I went for vacation until May 10 and then again from September 18 until December 3. 1987.

So at least I did not have to do all of it. But many crew members spent a 6 month contract non-stop in China.

On our last cruise in October it was already snowing in China and on the open sea. So the Royal Viking Star revised the itinerary as of November 8 and went to warmer climates.



Tour booklet for Shanghai.


Tour booklet


Beijing here we come again.

Tour Escort waiter Peter Lago.


Tour booklet.


At least some new ports of call were incorporated.

Now the tours to Beijing went by train from Qinhuangdao.


Probably we did not get enough Chinese food yet.

Captain Walter Holst switched from NCL to RVL and Captain Brudvik arranged for a Chinese Laundry Dinner Party.

Hannes and me with Executive Housekeeper Bruni Amann.

Nobody has a bigger smile than Hannes.


The company did listen to us and added Nakhodka in Siberia to the itinerary after the huge success on the Northern Pacific Crossing in 1984.


Bar Manager Claude and Chief Steward Asst. Gabi.


The Norwegian Dancers with Captain Walter Holst.


My brother Norbert.




Head Waiter Roman Feurstein from Mellau.


Yet another Welcome back from Beijing.


One evening we went for dinner in Kobe. We wanted to try this fabled Kobe Beef. Meat from cattle, which got special feed, listening to classical music and being, massaged three times a day. We ordered a 200 grams Steak, 1 gram - 1 USD. It was worth every penny.


After work A-Deck party.


The Beauty Parlon girls.


In the beginning of 1988 we lost Captain Ola Harsheim and later on our Executive Housekeeper Leena Hietanen, as they moved to Turku, Finland for the construction of the Royal Viking Sun.


Our new Captain was Reidulf Maalen.

The Fashion Show Team with Staff Captain John Øklandt.


St. Patrick's Day.


I left Royal Viking Star in Townsville, Australia on April 18 1988. Rønnaug, I believe left already earlier. We both had enough of ships life. I bought a home in 1986 in the center of Mellau and was ready to settle down. In 1987 I had already an approved construction plan for my Pub Moby Dick in Mellau.

Rønnaug was at home in Bergen, when I received a call from Erling Frydenberg in San Francisco. He offered me a permanent Hotel Manager position. I just knew myself. If I would not take this chance, I would regret it for the rest of my life. Yes I was young for the position, but I felt, I was ready. Rønnaug suggested to go back with me. But I knew, that she did it only because of me. Now I was in serious trouble. I just could not deal with the situation and broke up with the woman, I dearly loved.


On April 19 1988 I rejoined the Royal Viking Star as Chief Steward in Hong Kong. Bloody hell, more China.

Dinner at the Jade Gaden, Windows of the World Hotel in Shanghai.


I was very busy as I was training Arnold Deutschl as Chief Steward and a the same time I received training from Hannes as Hotel Manager.


The Norwegian Dancers.


Cruise Director Tony Martin, Singer and Movistar June Alysson and me.


Crew tour to Wuxi. Man with hat Brian O'Brian, to the right Headwaiter Vargas.




French Dinner.


On our last call to Kobe I arranged through our port agent for Captain Brudvik to visit the Stella Polaris.

The proud Stella Polaris from Bergen Line was sold in 1969 to the Japanese and was since used as a restaurant in Numazu.

Captain Brudvik's father was working on her being still in service as a dining room steward. The captain returned with a crew crew list with his father's name on it and a menu. He was very emotional about that.


Hannes Furlan and Connie Salutos got married onboard the Royal Viking Star in Juneau Alaska on June 22 1988. Hannes was offered a position as Director Hotel Operation in the San Francisco office on Battery Street.

Erlying Frydenberg left the company and became VP Hotel Operation for Crystal Cruises in Los Angeles. Director Hotel Operation Christian Sauleau moved up to VP Hotel Operation in the San Francisco office.


From the next day on I was Hotel Manager.

As most of you know, Hannes Furlan was precise in whatever he did. He could never walk through a public area and not pulling a tablecloth straight. At one point the Baker had serve him for a week every morning a croissant to his office, as the fine line of being crisp and fluffy could to be reached. For me Hannes Furlan was a perfect teacher for the past year.

Before his wedding we had along talk in his office. He told me that I am ready for this big position even though all my Department Heads were older than me. He then said: You have to be very careful. You are a young and handsome man and the women will eat you alive. I never forgot that and acted accordingly.


On my very first Captain's Welcome Dinner the following cruise I went to my table. I introduced myself to my VIP guests. To my left the General Distributor for Texas of the Anheuser-Busch brewery was sitting and his much younger wife to my right.

Already during the appetizer her hand was on my knee moving in the wrong direction. I was scared to death that our fellow table mates would notice this. Mr. Furlan never taught me what to do in such a situation. I started to move my leg to push her hand away, but she was persistent. Finally when the coffee got served, I put the spoon in the hot coffee. Then the spoon disappeared beneath the table cloth and touched her hand. From that moment on there was peace on the Royal Viking Star for the rest of the cruise.


Cruise Director Tony Martin with his Assistant Ron Marriott and Social Hostess Carrie Salutos.

The Royal Viking Star in Alaska.


Captain Peder Vebenstadt, Social Hostess Carrie Salutos, Cruise Director Ron Marriott and me.


Executive Housekeeper Bruni Amann and her team.


A great shot in Alaska that season.


In September I left for vacation.


The Royal Viking Star left Hong Kong for good on Oktober 21 1988 for an uncertain future.

Farewell to China Party.


Repositioning to the United States.

The Roy