Frozen Hell

Think this winter was tough on you?  This week a number of ships were stuck in the Baltic Sea as unusual amounts of ice froze them in place.

Several vessels, including a Viking Line passenger ferry carrying around 1,000 people, had collided with each other as they drifted amid huge blocks of
moving ice.

For those of you who aren’t familiar with the ferry system that crosses the Baltic it consists of a number of cruise lines that carry people and goods between the various nations that adjoin the Baltic.  Most trips take from a few hours to an overnight and their big attraction is that passage on these ships entitles you to shop at the duty-free store on board.  In fact, it’s not uncommon for people to take a short trip (they’re pretty cheap) solely for the opportunity to stock up on booze and smokes.

And for short journeys, the ferries are pretty sweet.  They’ve got a few restaurants, a (really, really) small area for limited gambling and entertainment.

Well, I use the word ‘entertainment’ in its broadest and most general sense.  There’s usually some sort of floor show which is usually just terrible.  Imagine a Vegas show (and since I’ve never been to Vegas perhaps I should say ‘Imagine what you imagine I imagine a Vegas show would be like’) on a stage too small by half, choreographed by someone who’s an undergrad hoping to one day get a degree in dance (or whatever it is choreographers get their degrees in) and thinks he/she is the next -insert famous choreographer here since I don’t really know any- staffed by twice as many people as can comfortably fit on the stage and who are all mildly uncoordinated.  Mix in costumes and generic music left over from the 70s disco era and viola!  You’ve got a ferry line show.

So imagine the horror of being stuck in the middle of the Baltic with nothing to keep madness at bay except endless showing of the ‘Buena Vista Social Show’.  I few years ago we saw the show ‘Fire and Ice’ on the ship’s CCTV and we still cringe at the thought of it…

So take a moment, won’t you, to say a prayer for the poor unfortunates who’ve been stranded in the middle of the Baltic listening to countless hours of disco schlock.

Hopefully the bars were well stocked…


2 responses to “Frozen Hell

  1. the winters were tough the world over. especially the latter part.

  2. Cold is relative…we live on the side of a mountain and the base I worked in was isolated at least once a winter by snow and ice. I was in Washington DC in Feb 07 on my way home from a CWID planning meeting, think it was the week after the Super Bowl and staying in the Key Marriott. The night before we left my offsider and I decided to walk across the Key Bridge to find dinner and bar – that should have been a hint as it was bitterly cold on the bridge. After dinner and many drinks (yes, the bars were well-stocked) we decided to walk back to the Marriott again….because we were Kiwis and knew all about cold. Yeah right, we got to the middle of the bridge (under which the Potomac had already frozen over!) and realised that we were screwed: we could either push on and risk extremities, or go back for a taxi – and risk extremities…we were almost catatonic by the time we got to the lobby of the hotel – the Popsicle kids…I don’t even you guys your northern winters at all…

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