A VISIT TO MEET A ROYAL VIKING.
Royal Viking Who? During the hectic pace of the last 4 months, Ruth had mentioned something about a cruise ship. Then following long hours spent studying, doing overtime and writing exams, the picture became a little clearer. The Royal Viking Queen would be calling in South Africa during November 1992 while doing cruises as part of her “African Sailing Safari’s” The visit by this very elegant ship would prove to be our most rewarding ship visit yet!
Saturday 28 November dawned a clear and fine day in Durban and found our trio of intrepid Transvaalers 570 kilo’s from home and securely ensconced on the North Pier, cameras ready. The ship was running late but we were patient and soon a glimmer of white appeared, this rapidly transformed itself into a rather square, yet streamlined looking vessel, which moved swiftly towards us.
Despite her square looks, her sharp prow gave her the look of a superliner. Most notable was the modern styled twin funnels. These have very little in common with the traditional funnels which we have come to know. These flared aft from the deck and rise above the vessel, culminating in a cluster of silver exhaust pipes that point skyward from each flank of the ship. The profile of the superstructure especially forward resembled the tapered round layers of something that originated in a wind tunnel.
We watched her as she passed us in the channel and then we made a mad dash to the Ocean Terminal, where we arrived just as she was coming alongside her berth, The sleek bow flowed into glistening flanks towards a rather square stern, revealed the almost pristine looks of a vessel whose age was measured in months. We made a quick detour into the dirtiest toilets in town for a quick change of disguise before presenting ourselves at the gangplank where we were handed the most precious of documents:
“THE ALL DAY VISITORS PERMIT!!”
Once onboard the most outstanding feature being the strikingly ornate proportions of her deck layout and decor. as if every lesson learned since 1840 had been studiously applied. Of note was the large inspiring murals that adorned the walls of the main reception area and which depicted the classical days of the 4 funnel liners. The rich piled carpets, marble floors and high quality woodwork reminded one of the decor that had made the early liners so special.
The vessel has 6 passenger decks, the lowest being ‘Oslo Deck’. ‘This mostly taken up by the very elegant Royal Viking Restaurant and officer’s accommodation. The next deck up is ‘Stavanger Deck’ where a large portion of passenger cabins are situated. Then there is ‘Bergen Deck’, with the King Olav Lounge aft and the ‘Sonja’ and ‘Martha’ suites forward. The next up is ‘Trondheim Deck’ and here we find the ‘Edvard Greig Piano Bar’, boutique, passenger accommodation and the two owner’s suites forward. Up the stairs to the ‘Harstad Deck’ where the bridge is situated and the two whirlpools and swimming pool are. Aft is the beautiful ‘Seven Sisters Cafe’ where breakfast and luncheon are served. The final deck, ‘Tromso Deck’, houses the ‘Midnight Sun Lounge’ and the ‘North Cape Bar’. It also looks out onto ‘Harstad Deck’ below. The vessel also houses a floating marina which is extended into the sea from the stern when the vessel is in suitable waters. The bridge of the vessel is a marvel of modern technology, featuring one man operation and the latest high tech gadgetry which is becoming the norm rather than the exception.
One of the reasons we had made this trip was to present a plaque to the ship on behalf of the Transvaal Branch of the World Ship Society. This was done by us on behalf of the branch to the Master, Captain Halle Thon Gundersen. The Captain then presented to us Royal Viking Line tie-pins and keyrings before treating us to drinks and a tour of the bridge. After this we spent another 30 minutes talking to our new found friends who would soon be sailing off into the Indian Ocean.
At 18H00 the Royal Viking Queen singled up and finally let go from our shores before turning her bows towards the open sea. After she dropped her pilot, she exchanged whistle blasts with the John Cox before opening the throttle and and showing her elegant lines to us for the last time. As she crossed the bar, the sun glinted one last time off her windows. We had done what we had set out to do and it was time to go home.
The Royal Viking Queen was the third of three sisters to be built for Seabourne Cruise Lines, however they did not take up the option on the vessel and she was completed for Royal Viking Line instead. She was built by Schichau Seebeckwerft shipyards, Bremerhaven, Germany, and is 438 ft long with a beam of 62 ft. Propulsion is provided by four single acting 4 stroke Bergen diesel engines driving twin variable pitch propellers. 212 passengers can be carried in 106 outside staterooms which are all suites measuring 277 square metres or more.
The vessel will be calling again in November 1993 and is a definite must for any person who would like to experience top class cruising.
Our thanks to Royal Viking Line, Captain Halle Thon Gundersen of the Royal Viking Line, Ben of the ‘Midnight Sun Lounge’ and Development Promotions.
It appears as if this trip was with Neville, Rudi and myself and it took place on the 28th of November 1992.
We made a point of trying to look reasonably smart when visiting ships and would change from our shorts into a collar and tie with formal pants before going on board. The toilets that we used on the quayside were disgraceful and smelt to high heaven.
My keyring and tie-pin were amongst the items that were stolen during an armed robbery in 1998.
DRW 2020. Created 22/03/2022. Article written by Neville and myself, special thanks to Glyn for the scans.