Vacation Blog #2: Smooth Sailing (finally)

Still on vacation, on a cruise ship somewhere in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. This cruise is called a repositioning cruise, the ship we are on the “Radiance of the Seas” does an Alaska cruise in the summer months and an Australian cruise in the winter months. So, spring and fall are an opportunity to take what are called repositioning cruises. In this case, we’re sailing from Vancouver, BC to Hawaii and then around the islands for about a week. The ship will then go on to Australia, via Bora Bora and Tahiti. We will, sadly, get off the ship in Hawaii.

So for the first five days of this cruise, which my husband chose quite intentionally, the idea was to unplug and unwind from a very eventful year and a sometimes stressful life. Of course, the first two days, the Pacific was anything but pacific. We had pretty big waves and rain and wind and even some of the crew was a bit seasick. Mark and I are pretty insensitive to such things, but none-the-less, I was glad when after two days, we could see the moon through the flying clouds, and the morning dawned with a few puffy white clouds.

I’m sitting on our balcony on the aft of the ship looking at the ships wake and a beautiful blue ocean, no land in sight at all, no other ships, just our cruise ship plowing forward at 18 knots at a heading almost due SW toward Kona, Hawaii. The in room TV has a display of the ship’s position on a globe along with information about the weather and our speed and the ocean depth (it’s now over 3 miles deep below us).

The ship I’m on is powered by huge diesel engines. In fact, we were late getting out of port while enough fuel was loaded for a trip from Vancouver to Hawaii. It’s a long ways and running out of gas in the middle would not be a good thing. There are no sails on this ship as a back-up plan if something happened. I’m not sure they would do any good anyway. This is a mid-sized cruise ship by todays standard, but she’s bigger than the Titanic.

I’ve considered before the possibility of using small modular reactors in the transportation sector. There are several areas for which such machines are great application and a natural fit. Big ocean-going ships are one of the most obvious. It doesn’t take a great leap of logic to consider that nuclear navy ships are still just ships. Cargo ships like large container ships and tankers would seem like logical ships to use nuclear power, but there’s always a security risk with such ships in unfriendly waters. Cruise ships tend to stay in friendlier parts of the world and could also benefit from the cleaner form of transportation. One could envision a system much like the navy where the ship is refueled perhaps once every five years or so, about when these ships require some refitting and updating of the interiors anyway.

When the first nuclear cruise ship is built, I hope I can sail on her maiden voyage. That would be an exciting day!