St Sunniva's Tableware
The pandemic meant no cruise liners came to Lerwick, but not many Shetlanders realise that an important one lies on the seabed at Mousa. Most people have heard of the St Sunniva, usually because she was the ferry shipwrecked in 1930. However, forget that, because she was far more interesting for what she did in her early life.
The North of Scotland Shipping Co. ran services between the Northern Isles and Scotland, but in 1887 they tried something new - pleasure cruises. It was the era when better-off folk could increasingly afford holidays, and the shipping company figured that people would be interested to join a vessel in Scotland, cruise the wonderful coastal scenery of Norway, and get chances to go ashore. The ship was luxurious, with cabins for two to six people, and facilities including a ladies' lounge and gentlemen's smoking room.
That's where a parcel I got last week comes in. It was a sugarbowl bearing the name of the St Sunniva. I was delighted also that it matches an impressive teapot that's on display; the tableware has been reunited after a century. The background explains why the name was on the silverware. All the North of Scotland's vessels carried the firm's logo, but because the Sunniva wasn't a ferry, and for the luxury market, her tableware was far more elite to impress saloon diners.
Cruising became a huge success, and other firms followed. The St Sunniva was eventually converted to a ferry in 1908.
I doubt if cruise liner passengers enjoy such sumptuous tableware today!