Stories from passengers
(Trieste – Italy)
Passenger: Corrado Cattonar
Dates of travels: June 1973 (go), September 1973 (back)
Rotta: Italy – New York / New York – Italy
“In 1973 I was 10 years old. At that time, it was for a child an extraordinary and fantastic adventure to go to America, to meet uncle and aunt, by the Italian admiral ship.
I really retain a clear memory of that voyage; I remember it like one of the loveliest moment of my life.
I’d like to make it clear that I considered me a “special” passenger, as my father and my uncle were part of the crew. For this reason I was a little bit cuddled by all the staff.
My cabin was the B64 of the tourist class, but I could go everywhere, to the first class, and to the kitchen too, admitted to the crew only. I was seldom stopped, but if it happened it was sufficient for me to say that I was the waiter’s son or that I was going to my uncle next to the kitchen (every morning I went to him to have breakfast). Next to the kitchen there was the riposteria, a room where desserts, fruit (fruit salads), cold meats and salami and wines were got ready. I remember the patient and careful work of those “masters”: they realized the several courses like little works of art.
During an evening, we went to mass in the wonderful Raffaello’s chapel. It was another exciting moment for me when the celebrant asked me to help him as altar boy. I remember I felt embarrassed when I read a reading and think, in all sincerity, the meeting understood very little about my “whispering”…
In the great and luxurious cinema, that could hold no less than 500 spectators, I remember I watched same films, but only one of them remained engraved in my memory: it was an Italian western entitled Vamos a matar companieros.
The voyage out and home was comfortable and the weather was fine. Only during the morning part between Cannes and Barcelona the sea was rough and many passengers and I were seasick.
The morning before coming to New York it was a little foggy so the powerful siren reported our presence to the other ships by intermittent and long sounds. After 5 sea days, coming to New York was one of the most exiting moment: the Verazzano bridge, the statue of Liberty and then the Twin Towers seemed as though they went toward us to welcome us.
Before coming to the passenger terminal of the Italian Line we met the transatlantic France, that was moored. It was bigger than our ship, but it didn’t have Raffaello’s graceful beauty.
During the return voyage a stop was planned in Naples, but because of a local epidemic of cholera the ship went straight to Genoa and the passengers had to be vaccinated at the sickbay.
During the days of stay aboard I toured far and wide, but the place where I was surely more impressed was the first class restaurant “Excelsior”. Here, shortly before the departure from New York, holding a short reception, I, my mother and our relatives living in USA said good-bye to each other.
Raffaello stopped her career in 1975, turning over an historic page of Italian navy. Now my dream would be someone could go to recover the anchor of this wonderful ship, lying in the deep water of the Iranian port of Bushire, to restore it as a monument of Italian merchant navy. Is mine a dream only?”
(Many thanks to Marina Pace (Naples) for the translation of this page)