Around the world in ... port

Posted: Friday, June 13, 2003

My friend, Phileas Fogg, asked me to go around the world with him. In 1872, he wagered with a group of friends at the Reform Club in London that he could complete the trip within 80 days. I didn't take him up on his offer, although I did check his book out at the library.

I thought I could duplicate his adventures by going down to the Juneau docks, and walking aboard one of the great ships in the harbor, to talk with the crew. Then I would be able to travel around the world as I listened to their stories.

I started by meeting Tor Wallen, who works for Princess Tours. He escorted me aboard the ship. His mom and dad are Lynn and Skip Wallen. He is 22 years of age, lives in Juneau, and was born in Thailand.

Coral Princess is a big ship, 91,627 gross registered tons, with a cruising speed of 22 knots. Kylie Brady met me at the top of the gangway. She's 26 years of age, from Melbourne, Australia, and serves as assistant purser. She has worked for Princess Cruises for three years.

The captain is Philip Pickford, an Englishman of 55, who was born in London, but now lives in Sydney, Australia. He has served with Princess Cruises or her predecessor, the Peninsular and Orient Line, for over 30 years, starting when he graduated from maritime college as a cadet navigational officer.

Guillermo Natividad is from the Philippine Islands. He was born at Magasawang Sapa, which means two small rivers, in the province of Bulacan. He is 49 years of age, and is the accommodation service manager. He has a crew of 137 working under him, including people from the Philippines, Thailand, Romania, Hungary, Poland, and one each from Portugal and Italy.

Philias Fogg gave me some good advice about traveling around the world. He told his friend and aide, Passepartout, that it wasn't necessary to pack a trunk - a carpet bag was good enough for a couple of shirts and three pairs of socks. For after all, he said, "We will purchase along the way."

So, Passepartout, hurry, the train is leaving in 10 minutes for Dover and Calais.

• Elton Engstrom is a lifelong Alaskan, retired fish-buyer, lawyer and legislator (1964-70) who lives in Juneau. He can be reached at 586-1655.

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