Friday, August 12, 2016

A Mystery Ship

"Ladies and gentlemen," said Kent Allard to the group of reporters, "this is the Kilmorden Castle." As he spoke, he raised his hand to gesture behind him at the gleaming white cruise ship.

Allard and the reporters were standing on pier 12 of Honolulu's Aloha Tower. It was here that all of the cruise ships that plied between Hawaii and San Francisco were docked.

Allard was president and CEO of the brand new cruise line, Aloha Themed Cruises, and the Kilmorden Castle was the company's brand-new flagship, having been acquired from one of the larger cruise lines which was upgrading its fleet with the largest ships in the world. A handful of start-up cruiselines were taking advantage of this divestiture.

"Her maiden voyage is six months from now," Allard continued. "The theme, a 1930s Hawaiian mystery cruise. For two weeks our guests will leave the 21st century behind."

"What, no internet?" one of the reporters asked. "That's not going to go over well."

Allard smiled. "Our cruises are for adults only. Wedding parties, honeymooners, people celebrating anniversaries, history buffs. I'm sure they won't miss today's modern technology at all. Except for the modern electronics on the ship's bridge and the powerful engines, the ship will be for all intents and purposes sailing back in time."

The reporter shook his head doubtfully.

Another reporter raised a hand. "What about the food?" she asked

"The food will be delicious but also historical. 1930s recipes, from the actual menus served on board those famous cruise ships of yore, such as the Matson Line."

The reporters nodded and wrote in their notebooks. That sounded interesting.

"In addition to the role-playing mystery," said Allard, "the Kilmorden Castle will also host a bridge tournament and a Scrabble® tournament."

"Scrabble®?" said yet another reporter. "I can understand bridge. Mystery novels of the 1930s were full of bridge players. But Scrabble®?"

Allard smiled. "My wife and I love Scrabble®. And since I'm the CEO and she's the CFO, Scrabble® tournaments are going to be a regular feature of our cruises."

Allard turned to look up at the gleaming white ship.

"Let's go on board," he said. "All of the cabins are being refurbished in 1930s style, as are the lounges, the swimming pools, the restaurants. We'll visit one of the cabins that has been completed, and then we'll have dinner in the First Class Dining Room. Some of our staff are on board and in costume, so you'll have plenty of good photo opportunities."

The reporters followed the tall, white linen suit-clad Allard up the gangplank and onto the ship, unlimbering their cameras.

That Sunday, the travel sections of most major newspapers around the world devoted at least a couple of lines to the news of the forming of the new cruise line, Aloha Themed Cruises. Several of the papers devoted a whole page to the news, with photos of men and women in 1930s-era vintage clothing, posing "in character" for the cameras.

And each article ended with the following news:

"Six lucky couples have a chance to win all-expense paid tickets on the inaugural cruise of the Kilmorden Castle. Aloha Themed Cruises is sponsoring a bridge tournament and a Scrabble tournament, one month before the maiden voyage commences. The tournaments will take place at the Carlton Hotel in San Francisco. The top three finishers in each tournament will receive those coveted free tickets to what will surely be the most unique cruise in the history of ocean travel!