Well, the day came and we embarked on the afternoon of 1st October, after going through security once more. This time a manual search, open each bag and unzip each compartment, followed by a short van ride to the ship. Two crew members came down to get us then and it was up the gangway and sign the book. Our steward came to the ships office to get us and our bags and show us up to our cabin, then give us a conducted tour before we unpacked and settled in for the next 37 days or so. Our cabin is spacious and comfortable with a DVD player, VCR/TV combination, CD player, Coffee making facilities, fridge, coffee table and three seater couch. There is a desk, twin beds, en suite and there is plenty of room in the cabin with storage for everything except our suitcases, which Louis our steward is happy to take and store away until the end of the voyage. One of the best things we have found is there is a lift on board so we don’t have to climb up and down 6 flights of stairs.
2nd October. We sailed around 1:30 am and awoke to our first day at sea, and the start of a voyage of 14433 nautical miles Tilbury to Auckland via Hamburg, Rotterdam, Damietta, Suez Canal, Melbourne, Sydney and Brisbane. We went to have a look around the bridge after breakfast to see how things are done. Once we were clear of the Thames we are under the control of a “Brixham Pilot”. These pilots are responsible for all shipping in the English Channel area, and he will be on board until after we leave Rotterdam and until we pass Brixham, when the ships master takes over. Usually one is not permitted on the bridge when there is a pilot aboard, but he has said we are welcome any time subject to the masters permission, but we are not permitted when there is a port or river pilot aboard. We are back with this time thing again too. This morning breakfast at 7:30 am, 900 am the clocks go forward one hour, so 9 becomes 10, lunch is at noon, a very short morning.
And so now all we need to do is sit back and enjoy the voyage. Although we were warned that as this is a freight carrying ship and passengers are a secondary consideration we have found everyone on board from the captain down to be nothing but courteous and helpful. The bar in the officers recreation room is now dry as part of the company’s safety policy, but we, and our other passenger (Duncan), have purchased our own supply from the Bond store”. Funnily it was Australian beer (Victorian Bitter) so it is something I am familiar with as when we sailed on the “Fairstar” a few years ago that was the beer of choice then. The only thing we miss is morning and afternoon tea, although we have coffee making facilities in our cabin but nothing to nibble, we will have to get some biscuits ashore. Meal times are Breakfast 7:30 – 8:30; Lunch 12:00 – 1:00; Dinner 6:00 - 7:00.