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Troubles on the Sky

First time I boarded the Royal Viking Sky in Barcelona, Spain on the 22. of August 1985. By that time I was a well established Food & Beverage Controller. The Royal Viking Sky did Mediterranean and Holy Land Cruises. Captain was Kjell Salbuvik. Hotel Manager was Sigi Meier.


 

A SKALD from a couple of weeks earlier.


Hotel Manager, Sigi Maier.


 

I was invited to the Provision Party. The gentleman to the right was the Asst. Butcher from Chile. He had this crazy habit to open the beer with the bone of his eye socket. When the cap popped off, it looked like his eyeball fell out.


 

The Bar Staff, when I joined the Royal Viking Sky.


The Trondheim Lounge.


The Norske Dancers with Refridgeration Engineer Didrik Stene.


 

Now we were on the way to our 1. Holy Land Cruise of the season down to Haifa, Israel.

No troubles so far. The following cruise went back into the Med ending in Civitacecchia/Rome, Italy. During this cruise I took the tender ashore in the morning in Villefranche, France, heading for the beach.


Villefranche, Tender Pier.


There I was in serious trouble. I had met this girl, laying there in the sand in a pale green bathing suit. I have seen here onboard before, but took no further notice. Now I started talking to her and probably fell in love with her instantly. She was a Sundt Shop Assistant, Rønnaug from Bergen. Alone this circumstance made it worthwhile for me to have come from the Royal Viking Star to the Sky.


Villefranche.

Mykonos, Greece.


 

The Stewardesses, shortly before I joined.


 

Jamie Logan was Asst. Cruise Director and Carole Klein was Social Hostess.


 

At the beginning of October we did another Holy Land Cruise. Now there was trouble ahead of us.


 

We stayed Overnight in Malaga, Spain and drove down to Marbella for lunch.


Breakfast Cook Hubert Moosbrugger, Sundt Shop Manager Øvind Brundtland, Me, Norwegian Nurse.


 

Ronald Reagan had been President of the United States since 1981.

As paying guests onboard were President Reagan's daughter Maureen with an entourage of 12 friends and bodyguards.


Stepmother Nancy Reagan with Ronald Reagan and Maureen Reagan.

When we arrived in Alexandria Egypt, we layed there together with the old venerable Achille Lauro.


My friend and colleague Hubert Moosbrugger from Bizau, Austria was a cook on the Royal Viking Sky at the time and took this snapshot that was to go down in history.


I believe there were 8 terrorists from Yassir Arafat's P.L.O. who boarded the Achille Lauro as booked passengers in Alexandria, Egypt. They had a lot of weapons in their luggage. The security was at that time equal to zero and it was an easy task to come onboard with heavy weapons.


Actually, the terrorists wanted to enter Israel with the Achille Lauro and carry out an attack there. In the evening, when the stewardesses saw the weapons under the beds, the tragedy took its course. The ship was hijacked and one American passenger was killed.


Our local newspaper of October 8.1985.


We had more troubles. Some U.S. media reported that because of Maureen Reagan sailing with us, the attack was actually on us and that the terrorists had mistaken the ship. Of course, this was absolute nonsense.


Alexandria, Egypt.


The Jewish cemetery at Alexandria, Egypt.


The tour to El Alamein.


Word War II memorial cemetery.


After this incident, metal detectors for checking hand luggage at the gangway were purchased on all cruise ships. Visitor passes needed to be issued. ID cards for passengers came into place. Bon-Voyage parties before sailings were not allowed any longer. The luggage however, went on board without control for another 30 years.

 

Cook Johnny Ebner and Bar Manager Toni Spyro.


Finlandia Bar.


 

Anita Selberg became 1985 the first female crew member in the engine department on Royal Viking Line.


Captain Salbuvik helped the former stewardess to become the first female Oiler. Was she trouble? Never.


Bar Manager Yiannakis Pavlou and Captain Kjell Salbuvik.


Captain Salbuvik was a very sincere and good Captain. But at times he had a problem with alcohol. During a Captain Welcome speech he once suddenly dropped on the stage floor.

On previous cruises in Northern Europe that season the Hofbräuhaus at the Reeperbahn in Hamburg was sort of the Crew Bar ashore. At one point Salbuvik was conducting the Humpapa Band on stage. Suddenly he fell back left from the stage into the audience below.

Was this trouble? Not on the Sky. As I said, he was otherwise a very decent man and good captain. When in 1986 the ships sailed under International Norwegian flag, the company startet do move around the Masters. Salbuvik had to go on the Royal Viking Star. He was taken out from his comfortable environment. It was sad to see, when Staff Captain Reidulf Maalen showed him off the gangway for the last time.

 

In 1985 the Chief Steward Assistant position was implemented. First on the Star with Gabi and then on the Sky with Lech.


Al Capone Party in the Crew Bar.


Lech Straziewski, me and Bruno Haag.


This position reported to the F&B Controller. Was he trouble? Sometimes. Earlier that summer we stayed overnight in Leningrad. We were 8 boys and went for dinner to the Hotel Europe. On the way there, Lech started to talk to man in Russian, who offered rubles on the black market. We all gave Lech 20 USD and he got the exchange in rubles. At the Hotel Europe we ordered the usual tourist setup. Caviar and a bottle lukewarm vodka, Schaschlik and lukewarm Krim champagne and afterwards the kasashok show. Then Lech asked for the bill with his prominent big mouth. The waiter startet to laugh as Lech received from the man in the street Yugoslavian dinars. They were worth about 2 USD. Lech's big mouth got him into trouble several times. We had to hurry back to the ship due to the midnight curfew.



The following morning I met my friend Hubert Moosbrugger, who was breakfast cook at that time. He was bragging, what a great night he had last night. He met a girl, not too expensive and only came home at 4:00 am.

Sous Chef Herbert Jäger, First Cook Hot Galley Mundl, Breakfast Cook Hubert Moosbrugger.


10 days later Hubert had to go to the pay-out to get some cash. On the Sky the Crew Steward's office was next to mine on Pacific Deck forward. On the Royal Viking Star there was the chapel. Hubert's command of the English language was only moderate and he asked me to check his monthly wage settlement. He could not understand, why somebody deducted 400 USD from his wage. It was of course, the not too expensive night out in Leningrad. The company had to deduct the fine for the noncompliance of the curfew. Was Hubert trouble. He was only trouble and THE party animal of all times.


Hubert's Café Moosbrugger with Manfred Jaud.



When the party got really wild, Hubert used to take out the fire hose of the locker on the A-Deck Corridor, using the nozzle as a microphone, sining Lola from the Kinks.

 

Kusadasi, Turkey.


Great night out in Kusadasi, Turkey with my new leather jacket, purchase the same day.


Inger-Lisa was Crew Steward then.

 

Lech and me leaving Venice.


 

Now we were about to leave all troubles behind us and sail to the good old United States.

But it was already November, very late for a Trans - Atlantic Crossing from Lisbon to Fort Lauderdale.


Sailing out of the Bay of Biscaya it got terribly rough. Then we got into a tropical storm. For a week nobody was aloud to the exterior of the vessel.


In twenty years at sea, I have never been in worse weather condition. Literally everything was on the floor. Windows broke mostly on the Promedade Deck Gallery and even one on the Bridge. The wholes were covered with plywood. Even the heavy Chief Purser Safe fell over.


The entire cold plates for the Norwegian Buffet the following day were stored on trays in the fridges. At 1:00 am the Night Cook came into the Crew Bar to get all the cooks. The Norwegian Buffet was piled up on the floor of three fridges about 3 feet high. The entire Galley Crew worked through until Noon, when the Norwegian Grand Buffet was opened. Only dedicated, professional people are able to do this.



We had two passengers onboard, who desperately needed medical assistance.



The whole Royal Viking Sky was brown when we arrived at Fort Lauderdale. The sailors were just unable to do their nightly wash-down routine with fresh water.


Article from the RVL Chronicle.

 

After the crossing back to the United States we did Caribbean and Trans - Canal Cruises.


Saucier Henry Kieran (IRA Henry) in Fort Lauderdale.


Panama Canal.


Potash No 1 'Bimbo', Pastry Chef Hans Kiendl,



On one of the cruises we had a badly injured passenger onboard. The ship docked out of schedule in Balboa, Panama and Concierge Bruno Haag was to accompany the transport to a hospital in Panama City. He asked me to come along, as he did not feel comfortable to go alone.

On the way back we took the train and that was real trouble. We literally went through the jungle. The rails were totally deformed from the heat and we felt the little train would fall off the track rather sooner than later. Bu we made it back on time.


 

In a Bar in Cartagena, Columbia with Pastry Chef Hans Kiendl, Breakfast Cook, Hubert Moosbrugger and ?.


Willemstad, Curacao.


Cooks Sepp Ehammer and Wolfgang Selch in Willemstad, Curacao.


Ocho Rios, Jamaica.


Castries, St. Lucia.


Acapulco, Mexico


Cook Stefan Horning on the market in Acapulco.


The Royal Viking Sky docked at Pier 35 in San Francisco, USA.


Leaving San Diego, USA.


Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.


Panama Canal.


Cooks Bernhard Klotz and Hermann Großbichler.




The Royal Viking Sky anchoring off San Blas Island.



 

Bevor the Christmas cruise we went into dry Dock in Jacksonville, Florida. Hannes Furlan was Chief Steward at that time and he granted permission for me to attend the Crew Tour to Disney Work in Orlando. Bruno Haag had his sister onboard and Rønnaug and I went together with them to Orlando and spent 5 fabulous days there.


Bruno and me with his sister in the Trondheim Lounge. By the way, she was no trouble at all.


The Crew Tour on the way to Orlando.


 

Sous Chef Fritz Mariacher, Provision Master Sverre Skagen, Me, First Cooks Hot Galley, Heinz Sohm and Egidius Exenberger, Executive Chef Helmut Zuber.


Executive Chef Helmut Zuber from Switzerland brought the food standards onboard the Royal Viking Sky to a level, never seen before. Especially the Pastry and the Cold Galley improved a lot.


First Cook Cold Galley, Josef Brem and First Cook Hot Galley Manfred Jaud.




 

Part of the Polish Orchestra.


The Toga party in the Crew Bar.


Skylight Theatre.


 

Me, Purser Assistant Ingunn, Concierge Bruno Haag, Bar Manager Costas Berou.


 

My contract ended on February 21. 1986 in Fort Lauderdale. I went home skiing and waited for my girl-friend to arrive in Austria, but she never showed up. Was there trouble ahead? Not really.

 

My next contract startet onboard the Royal Viking Sky as Provision Master on April 10. 1986 in Fort Lauderdale. Also Rønnaug was back onboard. This time as Sundt Shop Manager.

I believe Captain was now Helge Brudvik and Sigi Maier was Hotel Manager.


I took over a perfect house from Provision Master Sverre Skagen. He was moved from the Royal Viking Star to the Sky last year as Luis Moosmann became permanent Provision Master there. Sverre had placed all the orders and we were actually ready for the Trans Atlantic Crossing via Tangier, Morocco to Barcelona, Spain.


Sverre Skagen to the left.


Sverre had a hard time onboard the Royal Viking Star with the German-speaking Hotel Officers. After all he was the only Norwegian hotel officer besides the Chief Purser. I never found out why. To me he was always an excellent Provision Master and a sincere person. So basically the Austrians, Germans and Swiss were the trouble.

 

Reception and Gift Shop.


 

But there was more trouble on the horizon.

Already at the end of March we could read this headline on our local paper back home:

Arch-enemies Libya - USA are now firing with real bullets.


President Reagan was not to be trifled with and sent the 6th US fleet into the Mediterranean.


The Royal Viking Sky was fully booked for the crossing and Sverre and the Executive Chef Peter Leypold made the orders accordingly. Then the cancellations started to poor in. We left Fort Lauderdale with the ship with about 400 pax.


 

We had a very smooth crossing.


 

We arrived in Tangier on April 20. and Barcelona on April 22. 1986.


A real busy port.


Gibraltar.


 

Naturally almost half the fresh produce and the dairy products were still there at the Provision. So I made only a small order for the next cruise in the Mediterranean.


The company revised the itineraries on March 10. 1986. Originally the Sky was to cruise in the Med all summer and do again Holy Land cruises in the fall and cross over to the US late in October. Now we were to stay in the Western Med until May and then alter with one Scandinavian cruise and one Baltic Cruise, just like the Royal Viking Sea during the summer month.


We continued the next cruise from Barcelona to Venice with an half-empty ship. The crew was idle and company was explaining to us the term 'avspasering'. Basically to get off with a minimum wage until further notice. This was executed.


But there was even more trouble ahead of us.

 

At least the Café Moosbrugger had reopened. With Chef Saucier Harald Schulze and my brother Bar Waiter Norbert Riezler.


 

On April 26. 1986 we just arrived at Livorno, Italy. We stayed overnight there. All of a sudden there was word that the nuclear power station of Chernobyl in the Soviet Union blew up.


Also the head office in SFO had to take action. Article from the RVL Chronicle.


Now the real fun started for me as Provision Master. On our next ports of call Civitavecchia, Naples and Catania no food was available at all.

 

We arrived in Naples, Italy and the 6. US Fleet was greetings us with the aircraft-carrier USS Nimitz and about 20 supporting ships.



USS Nimitz.


We stayed overnight there and hit the town. So did some 20.000 Marines, who had their first shore-leave since 5 month. Each restaurant, bar or joint was guarded by two MPs with machine guns. I went with my colleagues to a restaurant and started a conversation with an Executive Chefs of a supporting vessel. They also had the problem of provisioning their unit. They probably would have to fly in stuff from the US, he mentioned. Suddenly one Marine at the next table raised this voice. The two MPs were running into the restaurant and got rid of him real fast. I asked my neighbor what will happen to this poor fellow. The worst that can happen, is denial for shore-leave next time, he replied. I said, this is not so bad after all. He then told me, that maybe the next shore-leave will take place in another 5 month time.


 

The following afternoon we left Naples at 4:00 pm. Captain Brudvik was in touch with the Commodore of the Unit and permission was granted to circumnavigate the Nimitz. This was of course a highlight for our dear passengers and for us as well.

I stood on the little balcony behind the Bridge Wing with some officers as we sailed away.



The closer we got, the more we looked like a lifeboat of the Nimitz.


I mentioned, that I would give an arm and a leg if I could visit the Nimitz one day. Hotel Purser Marina Speck from Switzerland said: I was there last night. I met an officer in town and he took me onboard and showed me around. At that time, there was no security whatsoever, not even at the US Navy.

 

Catania, Sicily.


Then we arrived on May 4. 1986 at Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia. There I could purchase everything I needed, some fresh produce, fruit, fresh fish and dairy products. According to the ship chandler there was only sunshine and not even one cloud with possible nuclear fall out. So everybody onboard was happy.


Dubrovnik, Yugoslavia.


Dubrovnik.


The following morning we arrived at 6:00 am in Venice. The Hotel Manager Sigi Maier called me with his ever so friendly voice: Hey Riezler, the Captain just called me. The garbage you bought yesterday, you have to throw into the garbage, otherwise they will to clear the ship. So I ordered a barge and had everything thrown away.


In those days we parked the ship next to San Marco Square in Venice.


San Marco Square.



The Royal Viking Sky leaving Vernice.


 

The only one, who was calm about the situation was Executive Chef Peter Leypold. He said: As long as we have potatoes and onions, nothing can go wrong.


Executive Chef Peter Leypold and Sous Chef Herbert Jäger.


Christian Funk, the best Ice Carver, Royal Viking Line has ever had.




 

Now we went up to Northern Europe. There, of course, we were much closer to Chernobyl, but we couldn't change the schedule again. So we and the Royal Viking Sea chugged around in the North/Baltic Sea with very few passengers.


The staff enjoyed the quiet summer. Josef Matt from Schlins in Austria was Provision Master on the Royal Viking Sea at the time. We deposited inventory lists of each other's stocks in all important ports and thus transferred goods back and forth. We must have done a good job, then both of us later on made it to Chief Steward and then to Hotel Manager.

 

First Cook Mundl is having a break during the Kiel Canal transit.


The lock at Kiel Canal.


At the Bridge of the Kieler Förde, where you have to reel the mast.


 

Kopenhagen, Denkmark.


Kopenhagen was a turn-around port for some cruises. Then we had our big storing day. One time the fresh lobster arrived at 10 minutes past Noon. The forklift driver shoreside had his union break from Noon until 1:00 pm. I went to look for him and found him. For a case of Carlsberg he moved the pallet onboard. He was a funny older man with long hair, hardly any teeth and always wearing his baseball cap. Meanwhile the ice cream got delivered. he got from the driver a couple of ice cream lollipops. The next time I looked out from the provisions gate he was standing on the dockside with his short cigar in his mouth, in one hand a bottle of beer and the ice cream in the other hand, peeing freely over the side. I should have had a camera then.

 

The Chefs arrived at Stockholm, Sweden.


 

On the way to Geirager Fjord.


The Sovjet Ship Maxim Gorki in the Fjord.


Geiranger Fjord.


A true troublesome story, I believe Captain Brudvik told me once. Captain Saetre was the first Captain of the Royal Viking Star during the maiden season in 1973. He was very proud of his new ship and when he anchored at Geiranger Fjord he made an announcement throughout the ship.

'Ladies and Gentlemen, we have jaust arrived in the beautiful Geiranger Fjord with the beautiful Royal Viking Star. The beautiful tour busses will bring you all the way up on the top. From there you will see the beautiful Royal Viking Star lying in the beautiful Geirager Fjord just like a prick'. The passengers were beginning to wonder. A prick in Norwegian is a little thing of anything.



 

On the way to the North Cape.


Near the Rock of the North Cape.


Provision Matster Asst. Orlando from Cabo Verde.


The Royal Viking Sky at the North Cape.


 

The ship's clock reads one o'clock in the morning in the midnight sun.


The Discovery Room, where the Midnight Buffet was served.


Bar Waiter David McHugh.


 


The bent bow from the crossing has to been repaired yet.


 

Honningsvåg, Norway


Hubert Moosbrugger in Honningsvåg.


As I mentioned earlier, Sverre Skagen briefed me well. Once the ship will get to Norway, the Norwegian officers will purchase booze in the Officer's Slop Chest by the cases. Make sure you plan on that. Most of it was offl-oaded in Honningsvåg and shipped to the final destinations.

 

Dining Room


Sous Chef Herbert Jäger checking the Norwegian Grand Buffet.





 

Flåm, Norway.


Gudvangen, Norway.


The Royal Viking Sky docked at her home port Oslo.


We stayed overnight.



 

We haven't had a troublesome story for a while now. Well, here is another one. I periodically called my mother, like any other good son. I did that sometimes from Molde at the pier. There was a little phone cell. My mother told me that in Mellau there would be a brand new home for sale. She tried that before, thinking that I might settle down and give up the ship's life. This house was under construction at a prime location, when I was on vacation last. My mother gave me the telephone number of the owner and I called him. I was not really interested in the house, but more so at the very good location. The owner named me a price and that was reasonable for me. To make a long story short, I bought the home over the phone, without having seen it once and it was OK to pay for it, when I got back in September.


My father and my brother Gerhard travelled by train to Hamburg in order to bring me the contract of the home deal for my signature. Along with them came my ex boss Toni from Mellau and two of his employees Hermann and Rudi.



The Royal Viking Sky stayed overnight at Hamburg, Überseebrücke. My friend Hubert Moosbrugger and I promised them a good night out in St. Pauli at the Reeperbahn.


Hamburg, Überseebrücke.



Rudi was constantly taking fotos as we strolled through the Reeperbahn red light district.

When we came by the Street sign of Herbertstrasse, I told Rudi to take a fotos of Germany's most famous street.


Behind this barrier are all the whore houses. Rudi took the picture and in no time there were about 6 hookers leaping out from nowhere, starting to beat up poor Rudi. Now he was I trouble. We helped him and the situation ease down afterwards.


The infamous Bar Zur Ritze.


 

We left Europe unusually early on August 28. 1986 from Copenhagen to New York City, USA. The revised itinerary called for an Indian Summer season in New England/Canada.


 

This crossing was very smooth.


 

The Café Moosbrugger was still hopping.


It all worked out just fine with hardly any troubles.



My next contract I worked as Chief Steward onboard the Royal Viking Star.

 

As always, the best comes at the end. A little insider tip.


The best T-shirts are available in Amsterdam, Netherlands.


 

Some of the fotos I have pinched from the Royal Viking Line Facebook Groups.


Some fotos I have received from my lifelong friend Hubert Moosbrugger, Bizau, Austria.

 

All blog posts can and should be shared so that many people can follow the post.


If you register on the home page, you will always receive a short email when more posts are published.


Furthermore, you can then leave comments at the end of the posts, which I will be happy to answer.

All my blog posts are free of charge. But I would be very happy about a visit to my little bar in Egg, Großdorf.


Klaus Riezler.


 
 
















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5 Comments


Klaus

great job— I also was on the Star

George Dooley —I also still stay in touch & visit friends from all over

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Thank you George

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What work you have done here, Klaus! 👏👏👏 So great to read the stories and see all the pictures - this has really brought back good memories.💕 I was mainly on the Star, so I look forward to your next blog! And naturally, I will visite your bar in Egg.🎉🥂🤩 All the best an good luck🍀🎉🍀 from Ranveig

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Thank you Ranveig

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I loved reading your story and seeing the pictures , you have done it so well and what treasured memories. Those days real feel like yesterday , wish I had stayed longer xxx 💕I was on Royal Viking star 1983/4/6. Loved the star 💕where is your ? Trisha Antwis was Bentley

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