David E. Dix
If you are lucky enough to go on a world cruise aboard the Queen Victoria, take note: the Suez Canal is one lane only so ships at one end must wait for ships traveling the other direction to emerge from the canal. By contrast, the Panama Canal is two lanes so ships traveling the opposite direction do not have to wait and can pass one another side by side.
I probably will never be so fortunate to sail the world aboard the Queen Victoria, but our friends, Bruce and Judy Shaw, did earlier this year. Judy made me aware of this difference in the two canals. The 121-mile Suez Canal, openedin 1869, was constructed by a company formed by the Frenchman Ferdinand de Lesseps. It connected the Mediterranean Sea with the Red Sea and separated the Asian continent from Africa. Until then, ships traveling from Europe to destinations in Asia, had to travel around the tip of southern Africa.
The 52-mile Panama Canal, opened in 1914, was constructed by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. Currently operated by a Panama Canal Authority under the the government of Panama, it connects the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans and until its opening, ships traveling from North America to the Pacific had to travel around the southern tip of South America through the treacherous Strait of Magellan.
Bruce and Judy sailed through both canals reducing the length of their round-the-world adventure by thousands of miles. They boarded the Queen Victoria in the port of New York and sailed south passing through the Panama Canal and stopping at Cabo San Lucas, a resort on the Baja peninsula, before heading into San Francisco.
From there the Queen Victoria, a luxury ship on the Cunard Line, headed across the Pacific with stops in Honolulu, Fiji, the Indonesian capital Jakarta and then stops in New Zealand and Australia. Their journey took them to Singapore and Penang in Malaysia and then around the Indian peninsula into the Red Sea and the Suez Canal where their ship encountered many others waiting in the Mediterranean for the Queen Victoria and others to complete their journey through the canal. Stopping in Naples in southern Italy and Lisbon in Portugal and finally London, they completed their three months at sea. From there, a flight across the Atlantic brought them home.
When considering all the exciting aspects of their trip, the couple said three stand out: in advance of their arrival in Sydney, Australia, Capt. Evans Hoyt came on the public address system to ask passengers to be on Deck 9 at 5:45 a.m. to see a show of welcome performed by a team of lit drones. Dutifully, and because they deeply admired the captain, they did. The show was excellent, but the real jewel? The port is right next to the internationally renowned Sydney Opera House. And it was lit like the most elegant amusement park on earth.
Their second special day happened during an onshore excursion to the dunes near Dubai, United Arab Emirates.
“As they left the highway, he instructed us to put on our seatbelts. And he was right! The bashing involved driving up and down dune after dune in the extraordinary Arabian desert. It was the excursion of a lifetime,” Judy said.
The final highlight was Lisbon, Portugal. Judy is writing a novel featuring the daughter of a Portuguese captain who sailed for Prince Henry the Navigator in the 15th Century. So, Bruce took her to the Museu de Marinha—Portugal’s museum honoring Prince Henry and his many captains who would establish trade routes around Africa to India.
Judy and Bruce found themselves spellbound by the exhibits, the maps, and the stories. The highlight of their day came with the ride back to the ship, which was provided by a local man whose career had caused him to spend a few years in Ohio. His transportation of choice? A tuk-tuk, which is a modest open-air vehicle. With their driver as a guide, in the short ride to the port Judy and Bruce saw every amazing place and cathedral in Portugal’s capital.
Whew. The trip of a lifetime, indeed.
Internationalists at heart, Bruce on reaching 80 this year, asked his wife where she would like to travel. Judy said they compiled a long bucket list of destinations and Bruce suddenly suggested the sea voyage on the Cunard Line, the luxury line of the Carnival Corporation. Bruce’s roots are in Kent because his father, the late Roger Shaw, taught in Kent State’s College of Education and his mother, Mary, taught in the Kent schools.
As newlyweds immediately after World War II, Roger and Mary with their then young son, Bruce, had resided in Germany where Roger worked for the Marshall Plan. Years later, as a Kent State professor of Education, Roger led the way in setting up Kent State educational programs in east Africa, an experience that exposed Bruce to life and the challenges of the developing nations in Africa and Asia.
Bruce, after college and graduate school, enjoyed a fulfilling career starting with the Peace Corps, then the National Science Foundation, USAID and then doing international development work with RCA and General Electric.
Eventually, Bruce retired, and he and Judy relocated to Moorestown in southern New Jersey. Judy held a position as senior research specialist at the Edward J. Bloustein School of Planning and Public Policy at Rutgers University where she was director of the Sustainable Raritan River Initiative. Meanwhile, Bruce’s father, Roger, had suffered a rare, horrible reaction to the Swine Flu vaccination and required full-time nursing which Bruce, in retirement, was able to provide.
When Judy finally retired, the two opted to move to Kent and reside in the University Heights home his father had moved into after his wife, Mary, had died. Bruce has developed a serious health issue and Judy is providing care while working on a book about the Cuyahoga River. Both have been supporters of the Edith Chase Symposium and other worthy local causes.
David E. Dix is a retired publisher of the Record-Courier.