Returning home on the Symphony
25-03-97 to 28-03-97. Cape Town-Durban
My second voyage on the Symphony happened the day after I had sailed to Cape Town on the Oriana. I had been fortunate enough to be able to book Symphony for my trip back to Durban. When we arrived at the “passenger terminal” where she lay it was midday and as usual, the wind was howling in Cape Town. There was no real wait either and I was able to board almost immediately. The ship quickly started to fill up and I see that they had managed to speed the embarkation up considerably and within 90 minutes all passengers were on board.
A VOYAGE ON THE ORIANA.
22-03-97 to 24-03-97. Durban-Cape Town
The announcement that Canberra would be replaced by a new ship was greeted with much dismay by everybody. The concept vessel shown to the media was criticised as being too much like a wedding cake and too little like Canberra. She was built by Joseph Meyer of Papenburg, Germany and entered service in 1995. Soon it was announced that this ship, known as Oriana, would be calling in Durban during her 1997 world cruise. The time had come for us to sail again. I was one of the first South Africans to book the short Durban to Cape Town trip, I phoned as the voyage was made available. Needless to say I took what I could get! The berth that I chose was a shared 4 berth inside cabin. This berth was guaranteed but I would only know my cabin number once the ship arrived, something that would play in my favour once she was in Durban.
Then it was time to wait and watch the exchange rate. The ship was due in Durban on 22 March, arriving in Cape Town on 24 March, a short 1 day and two night hop. By now Rudi had booked as well and we started counting the days.
As the sailing grew closer I decided that I would return to Durban on Symphony just for fun and went ahead and booked that as well. Now I had two ships to look forward to and an empty bank account.
A cruise on the Rhapsody
26-03-96 to 30-03-96. Durban-Bazaruto
The Maiden Arrival of the Symphony.
12-03-95 to 14-03-95. Durban-Durban
The loss of the Achille Lauro in 1994, left a sizable gap in the cruising market in South Africa. Fortunately, local agent Starlight Cruises and StarLauro were quick to fill this gap. The ship chosen was the SYMPHONY, formerly known as the Enrico Costa. Strangely enough, the Amerikanis, which was booked to do cruises in our waters, could have filled this gap but had been withdrawn by Chandris.
Enrico Costa Deck Plans
A Voyage to Tristan Da Cunha.
23-01-93 – 05-02-93. Cape Town to Tristan Da Cunha.
MNG Maritime sold the St Helena in late 2018 reportedly for conversion into a private yacht. The vessel then returned to the UK and on 31 January 2019 arrived in London as the venue to promote a new and innovative series of off-road races for electric vehicles. The races, to be known as the Extreme-E series are scheduled to commence in 2021. The St Helena was to be converted into a “floating paddock” for the races, and a refit and refurbishment plan will see some internal spaces converted into garages and workshops in Falmouth and Portland. (https://www.bairdmaritime.com/work-boat-world/specialised-fields/4574-feature-new-high-tech-role-for-iconic-colonial-ferry)
It was announced that the RMS had been sold to Tahiti Shipping, a subsidiary of MNG Maritime, bought the ship for an undisclosed amount. Under the name MNG Tahiti she is to be based in the Gulf of Oman, and used as a floating armoury, packed with automatic weapons, bullet-proof jackets and night vision goggles, all stored for maritime security operatives who keep vessels secure from piracy attacks.
10/02/2018. The RMS sailed from St Helena for the last time. The ship, which has supplied the island since coming into service so long ago was expected to reach Cape Town on the 15th of February (Since revised to 17 Feb) where they will disembark the last passengers who sailed on the ship. Thereafter she will go into lay up or alternatively head off to her next destination, whether it is the beaches of Alang or a new career. The master was unable to reveal what the final destination of the vessel will be as he would only find out while en route for Cape Town. Once I know more I will post it here too.
The Whatthesaintsdidnext blog has a wonderful post dealing with the departure of the ship and the farewell that she was given by the islander of St Helena.
On 7 June 2016 I went to London to see the RMS while she was berthed alongside HMS Belfast. It was quite a reunion with two of my favourite ships berthed next to each other. Sadly though, the RMS has very little time left, and this was to have been her 2nd last sailing. However, the new airport has proved to be prone to wind sheer and as such not as safe for passenger aircraft as was hoped, so the RMS has had a short reprieve while they sort out the wind. My blogpost about the ship lives at Musings and I will not flood this post with images from that visit. However, it was great to see the ship once again, and interestingly enough a lot of the people watching her arrive were previous passengers. There is no doubt that she was a very popular ship, and she will be sorely missed.
My cabin was an inside “budget” on C deck, these small cabins are used when the ship does the shuttle service between St Helena and Ascension Island. They have no facilities, these being down the passage. The cabin was tiny, having two bunks, a wardrobe, basin and chest of drawers. Naturally all of these “budget” cabins were full and C deck was the most heavily populated.
The third day was still dangerous and there was no unloading or going ashore. The conditions were too dangerous. Time to catch up on my fishing! The fishing had become so popular that at any given time there were 8 lines over the side, people having even bought fishing tackle ashore! It helped pass the time.
19-03-92 to 21-03-92 Durban-Cape Town
The Canberra has always held a fascination for me, almost an obsession, and this magnificent white ship would always be in the back of my mind. I missed seeing her in 1986 when she called in Durban and decided then and there that I would remedy this at the first opportunity. Unfortunately the political situation in the country robbed us of the chance to see her or any other major passenger ships until the outbreak of the Gulf War. This was a bonus to us shipping starved South Africans as first the QE2 and then Canberra were diverted from the Suez route and were scheduled to call in our waters instead. We all went down to see QE2 and were somewhat disappointed in not being able to swing a visit to her. We were even more miffed when certain members of our party got on board, but that is another story.
Canberra and Hapag Lloyd’s Europa were due to call the next week and so a week later we made the 570 kilo trip down to see them. We arrived very early in the morning to find the Europa already alongside, she lay quietly at the Ocean Terminal, lights blazing and all peaceful, it was a breathtaking sight.
We then left for the North Pier to await the arrival of the “Great White Whale”. By now the weather had come up and it was drizzling, we were cold, wet, tired and hungry and she was nowhere in sight. About two hours later she emerged like a ghost from the mist, a big phantom which looked so different from anything I had ever seen before.
I was also fortunate to get a proper view of that distinctive tiered stern from the harbour cruise vessel, but I really wanted to be on board instead.
Later that evening we watched her sail, and we had vowed to sail on her as soon as we were able and the next year we were successful.
from aft we have Neptune’s bar, the Cricketers Tavern, Library, Shop, and the Ocean Room; a large lounge that used to be the William Fawcett Room. All the corridors on this deck are lined with plaques given to the ship by various ports and organisations. Forward on this deck is the old first class territory and subsequently it is all wood panelled. The Meridian Lounge and the Century Bar are the last public rooms on this deck with a spiral staircase leading up to the Crows Nest Bar on Games deck. Canberra has lots of smaller, more intimate rooms scattered all over the decks and I doubt whether we even saw some of them. She has three shops: a kiosk; where postcards, chocolates, sweets etc are available, a gift shop, where we spent all our money on goodies, and a boutique where they sell things like cameras, radios, perfume etc. The Lido buffet is situated on Games deck and provides round the clock tea and coffee as well as serving an informal breakfast.
Later that day we all popped in at the information desk, brandishing books and membership cards with the aim of a bridge visit. Unfortunately they were unable to give us an answer until the watch changed at 12H00. Needless to say we were back at 12H01 to inquire yet again. Still no joy until next change of watch at 16H00. Rudi had bumped into an electrical officer who had promised to try get us on the bridge at 16H30, unfortunately I got talking to some people from England and got to the officers accommodation at 16H31, late again!
A Voyage on the Aegean Dolphin.
20-01-92 to 24-01-92. Durban-Bazaruto-Durban
Durban-Walvis Bay-Durban 08-11-90 to 22-11-90.
Seychelles to Durban. 01/12/1989 – 08/12/1989
The foyer was on Venus deck which was the same deck as my cabin. Decks are named from top to bottom; Jupiter, Apollo, Venus, Dionysos, Poseidon, and Nereus deck. The Odyssey Lounge is located forward on Jupiter Deck while the Four Seasons Lounge is found below it on Apollo deck. The lounges are furnished in soft colours with Port side being the smokers side and Starboard the non-smokers. Each lounge had a bar and drinks were signed for, the bill being settled at the end of the voyage.