Arriving at the Seaman’s Mission in Cape Town I had my first view of my fellow passengers, a mix of local “saints” and intrepid travellers each with a reason to travel. This is the rendezvous point for all travelling to St Helena, Ascension, Tenerife and Portland UK. Mini buses took us to the ship and directions to cabins given. Cabins are comfortable although I only saw single bunks in them. My cabin had a top bunk which had been stowed into the wall as I was travelling alone. So far so good!
Within two hours out of Cape Town the reality hit and remained with me and most of my fellow passengers for another 48 hours. The South Atlantic was showing swells of around 2-3 metres which was enough for most to cancel dinner and take to their beds. It was not nice! As one who has always wanted to be an ocean traveller I couldn’t believe this was happening to me. At the end of day two I made it into the dining room and discovered I wasn’t the only sufferer. Thank goodness for that, my street cred is still intact.
This voyage is possibly the last one from Cape Town to the UK as the ship earns more revenue doing the comparatively short commute between Cape Town and St Helena than hiking up the coast of West Africa. I heard that the fuel cost from Cape Town to St Helena is around £300,000. I think there were around 85 passengers on this voyage plus cargo and crew so it doesn’t need much to figure out why there are plans afoot for an airport on the island. Many of the passengers were “Saints” returning to their motherland, a few were like myself, coming to the island to work with the government departments over here and the remaining 20 or so were tourists. Some had booked the whole passage to Portland in England and were stopping in St Helena for the eight days she takes to go up to Ascension Island and back to St Helena. There were English, Scandinavian, Italian, South African, Canadian and American nationals on board.
The voyage was pretty low key in terms of entertainment and organised activities, which was fine by me. Food was available in copious quantity although quality could have been better at some meals, this was possibly because some dishes were cooked in bulk where cooking in smaller quantities or to order would have been better. Service seemed to improve the closer we got to St Helena with the final night’s barbeque on deck a great success.
Deck space was adequate, with just the stern of the ship available as the containers took up the bow area. Once the sun came out there was the inevitable seizing of sun beds and draping them with belongings. This ship is not in the luxury category and is subsidised so in some ways you have to take what’s given.