The 11th of April 2013 was a watershed day for my partner and me. We had scraped together enough money to cruise in style on a Queen Mary 2 cruise from Cape Town to Southampton, spend a week on a longboat, and then fly back from London to Durban on Emirates airline.
My story begins with me sitting in our cabin sipping champagne and opening the Captain’s welcome card and other information goodies. The room was surprisingly spacious with a huge double bed made up with crisp linen, a small lounge, and a walkout veranda with table and two chairs. The generous bathroom had real wall tiles. Need I say more? We had chosen the intermediate level of accommodation just below the promenade deck. Above us were luxury suites for the super rich, while across the corridor were inside cabins.
While we waited for the cabin steward to deliver our cases and offer to unpack them, we decided to step outside and explore. This ship is huge, in fact it was the biggest one when launched, and still counts among the bigger ones. Everything is sheer luxury from spotless carpets to original artworks around every corner.
We were particularly happy that everybody spoke English, and greeted us with a pleasant smile. We could not wait for the mighty turbines to start up and take us out into the deep ocean, but that was only scheduled for six that evening.
So where did we go first? Up onto the promenade deck, of course! At 1152 feet (345 meters) it can take fifteen minutes to stroll from the sleek bow all the way to the stern with tiers of swimming pools and bars.
High up, the calypso-style band was already warming up with guitars, bongos and marimbas. From the sound of their voices it was clear they were in fine fettle. The view across the dock of the city and the mountain was superb.
The wind came up strongly, too strongly. The exit from the Cape Town container dock – the only one large enough – was too narrow. The Captain announced we would have to wait, perhaps for days. Disappointed, we donned formal dress and headed for the Britannia Room that seats a thousand people on two tiers.
The waiter service was superb and seamless. I almost had a flutter afterwards. I have never had a better steak in all my life and then some. But it was a little formal for us. We had to find another place to eat where the food was included in the price. The captain could keep his invitation. We were South Africans and proud of it.
Just before midnight the ‘Cape of Storms’ relented, and we made a quick escape assisted by fussy little tugs. As we slipped across the bar and turned to pass Robben Island the clouds parted, the moon came out and we beheld Table Mountain in all its glory. See you next week.