What would you consider as the best of times in shipping? The answer, I suppose, will depend on the needs and expectations of those being asked.

Shipping lines would see sustained high freight rates as a godsend; crewing agents, an ample supply of ship officers; nautical schools, a spike in enrolment; and maritime charities, a continued flow of donations. All that, however, has to do with business. I would rather look at shipping as a culture — a conglomerate of general customs and beliefs that define its essential character.

The following are some scenarios that involve fundamental changes in the prevailing maritime culture. Building castles in the air, some might scoff. Maybe so, but if the shipping world cannot imagine the possibility of drastic changes taking place, how can it act to realise them?

Still shall the Vision live! Say never more
That dreams are fragile things. What else endures
Of all this broken world save only dreams!

— Dana Burnet, from “Who Dreams Shall Live”, in Poems (1915)

~ Barista Uno

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