Monday, 1 February 2016
01.02.2016 - 01.02.2016
Sunrise was due at 05:20 but it was difficult to see any evidence through the storm clouds and rain squalls. The excitement today is the unusual method of the harbour pilot's arrival. For the first time in our experience the pilot will arrive by helicopter. As there is no helipad, he will be lowered to the deck on the end of a winch wire.
Well before the arrival time crowds of passengers took up any and all vantage points. We were politely but firmly told to clear ALL open decks in case there were loose objects thrown around by the aircraft's rotors. The pilot was to be lowered to the aft section of Deck 14 thankfully the forward section of Decks 14 and 15 were considered safe.
It was well past the planned arrival when the helicopter arrived and made a number of circuits of the ship. It then hovered for some time as the ship adjusted its position to safely receive the pilot. In less than 30 seconds the pilot was lowered and the helicopter took off to where it came from. With the pilot aboard the ship proceeded into one of the wharfs of the Richards Bay harbour. The wharf was definitely set up for commercial bulk handling with little to no facilities for passengers. The local flea market vendors were huddled in the hot sun without shade and their goods displayed on a ground sheet.
About 30 minutes behind schedule the Immigration Process has commenced. We are Group #17 scheduled for 13:00, it will likely be later than that. Once our group was called the Immigration Process ran quite smoothly and we were through by 14:00. Picked up our gear and went ashore to board the complementary shuttle. A monster of a bus with very tight and narrow seating and no air-conditioning. The trip to the drop-off was not the most comfortable but was mercifully short.
First task was to withdraw some local cash, the 50 Rand (AU$5) fee was a little steep but was unavoidable, the ship charges $6. We had been dropped off at a giant shopping mall and while the merchandise and store names were different the general feel of the place was not much different to any mall in Australia. We bought a replacement pair of sandals for Tony, found some cold soft-drink and found our way out of the place. Back on the shuttle and our beautiful floating home. Spent some time looking at the handcraft items for sale, all were beautifully made and very inexpensive but most could well be banned or require treatment by Australian Quarantine.
No plans to dress for dinner tonight, we'll grab some food in the Horizon Court. Ate way too much, now all we want to do is go to sleep. The entertainment has no great appeal so when I've posted this I'll put my head down. We have another day at sea tomorrow as we head for Cape Town for a 3 day/2 night stay over.
I've created a collage of the helicopter event, if you have time you can view it by following this link to the image for Today
Wishing you good health and safe travel.
Have a great day and stay well.
Cheers .. Tony