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Excerpt from the New Outlook Magazine – Saturday 14th February 1903 – The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – regarding a trip to the Crimea aboard the ship Prinzessin organised through The Cook Company – Thomas Cook as we know them today.
The Impressions of a Careless Traveler – 1903
The next morning the problem how we were to get on board our steamer presented itself. The wind, rattling the shutters and blowing open the French windows of our room, gave us no hope of a quiet sea, and I was not surprised to see the yacht moving up and down – in more ways than one – a half-mile or more from the shore. I succeeded by signs in getting from the landlord of the lodging house a glass of tea and some bread and butter for the ladies, and then started out to reconnoiter.
At seven o’clock I was at the chief hotel, but no one knew what was to be done, and every new passenger I met had a new rumor to repeat or a new plan to propose. We must ride back to Sevastopol; the horses were exhausted and the drivers would not take us; we must wait here until the sea goes down; we are going to be taken to the steamer in launches, etc., etc. At length it began to be reported, though still no official notice was given, that there was a Russian local steamer inside the breakwater, that we were all to go on board of her, that she was to take us back to Sevastopol, and that we were to embark on the Prinzessin in the harbor there. This arrangement was in fact made, I believe by the captain of our steamer through the intermediary of the first officer. We had nothing to pay on the steamer, except for luncheon if we chose to take it.
So far as I know, not till all the arrangements were consummated and most of the passengers had gotten word and were on board, or preparing to go on board, did the agents of the Cook Company appear again. Whether they kept out of sight because they did not know what to do, or because they wanted to avoid for Cook all responsibility for the predicament in which we were placed, I do not know.
Generalisations from a single experience or a brief series of experiences are not very safe; but the results of our experiences on this trip confirmed Mr.–‘s advice to me; before I left New York he said: “Buy your circular tickets of Cook; occasionally you can use him to advantage in especial carriage trips-but avoid the personally conducted tour.” In fact, we paid a good price at Sevastopol in order to have all care taken off, and when the crisis came it all tumbled back on us again; we paid for a third day’s excursion-to the garden of the Czar-which we never had, and had not only to pay our bills at Yalta, to which I do not especially object, but had to shift for ourselves under circumstances of no little perplexity, while our personal conductors disappeared from the scene, not to appear again until all the trouble and perplexity were passed.
To our surprise, the Russian steamer, though primarily for freight, had very comfortable provision for passengers, and we, with unexpected steadiness, steamed back over the water which we had looked down upon the day before, our “yacht” accompanying us all the way. Although we lost our promised view of the palaces and the splendours they contain, we gained a new view of the marvellous cliffs along which we had driven. We are now at home again on the Prinzessin. Our time on the yacht is growing short, and we begin to wonder whether after the exchange to land traveling we shall be as comfortable. But there is a pleasant thought in the idea of longer time in our stopping places and larger space for manipulating our luggage to compensate for the luxuries we shall leave.
Excerpt from the New Outlook Magazine – Saturday 14th February 1903 – The Impressions of a Careless Traveler. Coming soon – read the response to this article from Thomas Cook & Son.