Having sailed all the way down to the southern hemisphere it was time for MV Arcadia to set sail from Sydney for the return journey back to Southampton
The three officers of the committee remained the same as the south bound journey, Mike Walker, a member of Gratitude Lodge No. 6514 in the Province of Leicestershire and Rutland, president, John Strange, a member of Three Kindred Lights Lodge No. 5066 in Metropolitan Grand Lodge, secretary and Frank Parle, a member of Victoria Lodge No 4629 in the Province of West Lancashire, treasurer.
16 members attended the first meeting on the return leg, and as on the south-bound journey there was a wide range of masonic ranks, with members from across England, Australia and New Zealand. As a number of brethren would be leaving the ship at San Francisco it was decided that we would have a coffee morning and a cocktail party for this leg and carry over the money raised for charity to be distributed at the cocktail party on the journey from San Francisco to Southampton. Chris Hamer, a member of Fitzwilliam Lodge No 3023 in the Province of Yorkshire West Riding volunteered to act as DC at the cocktail party on the journey to San Francisco.
Whilst heading in a north, north easterly direction from Auckland to the Samoan islands in the South Pacific the ship underwent three more time warp turbulences. The first occurred when it got stuck on a Sunday for two days, this was immediately followed by the ship jumping from Monday to Wednesday and then being stuck on Thursday for two days! Another strange time phenomenon kept on affecting the ship’s time, some of the days would be 25 hours while others would be 23 hours.
Again, there was no damage to the ship and no ill effects to the passengers, although some lucky passengers did enjoy a two day birthday while others never got theirs. But that wasn’t the end to it, on the second Thursday the passengers had King Neptune to contend with as he demanded the same procedure for crossing his equator north bound as when south bound.
Fortunately, all passengers complied with his demand and the ceremony and all the slimy pollywogs were changed to shell backs and awarded certificates.
After getting through the time warp turbulences unscathed and dealing with King Neptune, it was time for the coffee morning en route to San Francisco. This was held in the Orchid Bar and was felt as a great success by all who attended. One new member joined at this event.
The next event was a cocktail party in the Viceroy Room which was held before arriving at San Francisco, as some of the brethren would be leaving the ship. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain Derek Grey, Executive Purser Alisdair Ross and Cruise Director Neil Oliver. Again, the party was a great success and well attended with 17 masons and their wives, one lady mason and her husband, five masonic widows, six guests and four members of the ship’s company.
To formalise the program for the final leg of the journey, a meeting was held after completing the north-bound passage along the Panama Canal. 21 members attended this meeting. As more time was available, it was agreed that a coffee morning, lunch and a cocktail party would be arranged. Bob Taylor, a member of Royal Sovereign Light Lodge No. 6630 in the Province of Sussex, and Stanley Broderick, a member of National Westminster Lodge No. 3647 in the Province of London, volunteered to assist in coaxing prizes from the onboard shops. Michael Collins, a member of Liverpool Mercantile Lodge No. 4319 in the Province of West Lancashire, volunteered to act as DC.
It was agreed that the charity donations this time would go to the widow of Allan Lili, a member of the ship’s crew in his late 30’s, who was medevac’d off the ship towards the end of Arcadia’s previous cruise with heart problems and sadly passed away not long after the Arcadia left Southampton. Allan was an Electrical Technician from the Philippines, who was well liked and respected and won the Outstanding Performer award for November and was being put forward for the Outstanding Performer of the Year award. He leaves a wife and three children, the eldest of which is about to start university. Another donation would be made to the captain’s charity the RNLI.
The first event after leaving San Francisco was a coffee morning in the Orchid Bar and this was followed five days later with a lunch in the Meridian Restaurant. Both these events were very well attended by masons and their wives, along with five masonic widows and two lady masons.
The third event was the Cocktail Party reception in the Retreat. Over 70 masons and their wives, masonic widows, two lady masons and guests attended and enjoyed drinks and canopies in very good company. Guest of honour was Captain Sarah Breton, accompanied by Deputy Captain James Brown, Chief Engineer Paul Yeoman and Cruise Director Neil Oliver.
Mike Walker proposed the loyal toast and Michael Collins proposed the toast to the ladies and guests to which Yvonne Franklin gave the response. The toast to the health of the captain and ship's company was proposed by Don Lunn, a member of Isle of Thorney Lodge No. 6194 in the Province of London. Sarah Breton gave a very good response to this toast and mentioned that the donation to Allan Lili’s widow was a magnificent gesture and would by very much appreciated. Sarah also thanked everyone for the donation to the RNLI.
There was a very good response from the onboard shops and members to help raise money for the charities, with a good number of prizes donated. The prizes were a book about MV Arcadia, a meal for two in the Orchid and Ocean Grill Restaurants, two bottles of wine, three bottles of whisky and a box of chocolates. The captain made the draw for the lucky winners and the raffle raised £456 for the charities.
A big thank you was given to Bar Supervisor John Ribeiro for all his help in organising the locations for the events and making them such a success and to Neil Oliver for his help in getting raffle prises.
The last meeting of the cruise was arranged to report on the charity donations as the epic journey back to Southampton would soon be over. Everyone agreed that all the events had been a great success, as the total raised for charity for this part of the cruise was £921. John Strange made arrangements for the donations of £691 to the Allan Lili Fund and £230 for the RNLI to be handed over to the captain.
The following are extracts from an email sent by Allan’s daughter to the captain and forward to the treasurer: 'We, the Lili Family, would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the officials and crew of the MV Arcadia, its passengers and all of those who had offered help to our family during a crucial event in our lives.'
Comments from the captain: 'I would like to join her and his family in once again saying thank you to you all for raising so much money for them. The total the ship has now sent amounts to £5,263; this includes £691 which I received from passengers during the RWC for them.'
Letters to the editor - No. 26 Summer 2014
While on a cruise from the UK to the Adriatic, my wife noticed an item in the ship’s daily bulletin, referring to a proposed meeting of Freemasons on board. Being between meals and excursions, I went along and found various groups of men chatting in the bar.
Most of us had never experienced an informal meeting like this. To break the ice, we decided to introduce ourselves by name, rank and Province, and found that there were members from London, Devon, Dorset, Monmouthshire, Cheshire, Yorkshire, Essex, East Kent, Cumberland, Leicestershire, Middlesex, Durham and Surrey.
Someone suggested we could do something for our ladies. A meal was not really appropriate as we had food aplenty, so a light afternoon tea with some drinks was arranged for fifteen brethren and their partners, plus two widows. We had a raffle that raised £145 for the ship’s charity, and we gave a toast to the Queen.
We are still in contact, which is great, considering it sprung from a mention in the ship’s bulletin. This is Freemasonry at its best – being happy and spreading happiness.
John Banks, The Friends’ Lodge, No. 9789, Surbiton, Surrey