PACKED LIVES

June Applebee is the librarian and bookshop manager on the QE2, the flagship of the Cunard cruise line.
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The Independent Travel
I spend nine months a year at sea, so my cabin is home from home. I pin up lots of family photos, take my laptop, coffee maker, kettle, and a Mexican rug for the bed. The cabin gets furnished with souvenirs en route, such as Balinese carved wooden frames for mirrors, a full sized carving of a woman pounding grain from Sierra Leone, rosewood tables from Hong Kong, a Balinese rocking horse ...

My measurements are kept by a tailor in Singapore who makes my evening skirts and trousers. I buy cotton in Bombay and batik in Bali. I bought a Marks and Spencer linen blazer in London, and added matching trousers at their Hong Kong branch.

For the QE2's annual three-month world cruise I need a wardrobe covering a chill January start from New York, the tropics, and the European spring. When going ashore, my large African shoulder bag holds an umbrella, throw- away cameras, wet wipes and a small insulated bag containing a wet flannel chilled in my fridge - it's so cooling placed on the back of the neck and helps when I carry heavy book parcels for the Pattaya orphanage the ship and passengers support.

By day, I wear a uniform of blue polo shirt and cream skirt and I have a formal evening outfit of navy blazer, cream blouse, and wool skirt. But I also need plenty of clothes for formal and theme evenings. World cruise passengers have been known to book a separate cabin just for their clothes, and bring different outfits for each of the 90 plus nights.

For formal nights I pack simple mix-and-match tops and long skirts, a little black dress, and a couple of good evening dresses. I need appropriate clothes for theme nights; black and white is easy, a 1920s style black shift dress from a good-as-new shop suits the nostalgia night, a red dress for Valentine's day, a green sales buy for St Patrick's night, and Bombay- bought cotton trousers and tunic top for international nights.

Getting it together at home takes time. Though there are shops on board, I always take supplies of Oil of Ulay, cod liver oil and calcium tablets. If I leave and join the ship at Southampton I hire a car and just pile it all in. If I fly to join the ship, I take a wheeled case, and cushion clothes against creasing by rolling them up in plastic bags. I also carry a businessman's overnight suiter as you can cram in a lot. Since the Gulf War, which started and ended during one world cruise, I've collected newspapers from ports of call and added the ship's daily programme. I pack them together in boxes and one day I will read through them all.

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