Dear Cruise Diary – Day 1

Friday, 24 January 2014 

4:00 I don’t usually sleep well the night before a trip, but luckily this was not the case last night. I jump out of bed like a springbokkie, refreshed and eager to get going.

4:50 Magda arrives and we try and load the suitcases into my dad’s Merc. They don’t fit! Magda hurriedly repacks everything into a smaller suitcase. It’s a tight squeeze, but we manage to get everyone’s luggage in. Wow, who would believe we’re only going to be gone for three nights!

5:07 I warned everyone the day before, whoever isn’t in the car by 5 AM would be left behind. We’re seven minutes late – not too bad. And we’re off to Durban!

6:20 Gareth and I tell the story of the time we nearly stopped without petrol on the N3. I watch a speeding car in the rear view mirror. He’s getting closer, I should probably move out of the fast lane. Oh wait, he’s moved to the left. Wait a minute… He’s going to try and squeeze between me and this truck – what the hell?! I swerve out of the road as he misses our car by centimetres. Bloody crazy Limpopo drivers!

6:25 Everyone’s nerves are on edge. We spend a few minutes abusing the stupidity of other drivers, threatening to put his license plate up on Twitter to name and shame and tag the metro police.

7:30 No time for a sit-down breakfast, we decide to grab something from the tuck shop. We spend about 20 minutes trying to get over the fact that there’s nothing but chips and chocolates to buy. Oh well, we’ll make up for it on the boat.

7:55 Isn’t that the guy who nearly drove into us parked in the parking lot? Shall we go scratch obscenities into his paint job with the car keys? No? Okay, let’s get going before we have to share the road with him again.

10:05 Clearly we’re in KZN now. We’re on the highway, but the speed limit is 80km/h. Talk about a change of pace.

10:15 Oh look, this is where we turned off that time we stayed at Lords of the Manor. We really need to go there again – what a fabulous long weekend that was.

11:30 Ah, here we go, Durban city centre. We have directions to the harbour: five robots, then turn right. Wait, wasn’t that the fifth one? Where did you learn to navigate?! Don’t worry, I’ll just turn right here. And then left here. Yes, I’m sure it’s left! No, we don’t need to go right again, do you want to get us lost?! See, there’s the entrance to the harbour.

11:45 Just read the signs, ignore what that guy is doing, we don’t know where he’s going. Long-term parking there. What, you want me to follow this guy around the roundabout? But – okay. Now look what you’ve done, we’re at the drop-off. Great, we’re lost inside a parking lot. Let’s just ask this parking attendant? All the way back and then follow the signs to the long-term parking? Gee, who would’ve guessed…?

12:00 Is that the queue to check-in? Sigh, alright then.

12:20 Is that the queue to get onto the boat? Sigh, alright then.













12:30 My mother warned us that there are always people taking pictures of you on the boat, like the paparazzi is stalking you, and here it starts. With a cardboard cut-out of a palm tree on either side, Gareth and I smile as a picture of the two of us is taken, then one of each.

12:40 Ooh, look, there’s the boat! Ah, now it’s starting to feel like we’re on holiday.

12:45 Finally, past customs and out of the queue. We’re starving, let’s see if we can go grab a bite to eat while we wait for our suitcases to be brought to the room.

12:50 Is that the queue for lunch? Sigh, alright then.

13:10 Grab that table! The queue for the buffet was not moving, so instead we found a counter where only a few people were waiting to be served pasta. A bowl each and finally we get to sit down. I take a bite and realise why no one else was interested. Hope the rest of the food on board this ship is going to be tastier than this. Never mind, let’s go find our cabin.

13:20 Our cabin is quite cosy. We don’t have a window (or even a porthole), but that’s okay, we’ll only be sleeping here anyway. The bathroom is tiny. Really tiny. The whole thing is not even as big as our shower at home. It reminds me of the bathroom in the camper car when we toured Europe for the first time.

13:30 Time for the compulsory emergency drill. We have our red lifejackets on and we’re standing around at our muster station with a bunch of other people, waiting for something to happen. We watch as people scramble around, unsure of where they should be. Gareth and I look at each other, amazed by how clueless some people are. Your muster station number is shown on your lifejacket, and the stations are clearly marked – it’s not rocket science. Half an hour later, when everybody are finally sorted out, we get to go our own way again.

14:00 Departure time! We stand outside on one of the middle decks, watching as Durban slides by. So excited! We return to our cabin to drop off the lifejackets. Our suitcases haven’t arrived yet, so we decide to go explore.

14:30 Oh my goodness, this is a madhouse! The pool is packed, the hot tub is squirming with people and there isn’t a single open sun lounger in sight. Techno music is blaring and people are crowded on the deck, dancing like there’s no tomorrow. I hate crowds and this is too much for me, let’s move on.

14:40 Gareth and I climb the ladder to the top deck in the stern. Immediately the wind whips my hair every which way and I can’t see where I’m going. The ship is swaying so much, we stumble with every step. We’ve left Durban behind and there’s nothing to see but blue sky and blue waves. I suddenly realise how tired I am and we decided to get out of the wind and go see if our suitcases have arrived yet.

14:50 Is that my suitcase standing next to the elevator? Yes, it is, and my name tag has been ripped off. Luckily we came across it, otherwise it might have been lost.

15:00 The Hobbit is showing on the movie channel! Hmm, would actually have liked to watch that again. But we didn’t book a holiday on a cruise ship to watch TV.

15:45 Suitcases are unpacked. Perhaps now is a good time for a nap before we have to get ready for dinner?

16:30 Ding! I wake up with a start as an announcement is made over the internal speaker. Due to bad weather, the ship will not be able to go to the Portuguese Island as promised. Instead we will be docking at Maputo. Well, that’s disappointing.

16:45 Ugh! My hair is too tangled to brush after the wind on deck. Hopefully a wash will sort it out.

17:00 What a horrible little shower! If I face the curtain, I touch the cold tiles and if I turn around, the shower curtain clings to my ass! Need to get out of this claustrophobic trap!

18:00 Gareth and I are dressed in evening wear. We glide down the stairs to the formal dining room. The paparazzi are waiting and we have our picture taken in front of the Titanic’s grand staircase. Hopefully it’s not a prophesy of some sort.

18:45 We sit at table with my mother and Magda. Our waiter is very friendly and very lacking in English. Because it’s our 10th wedding anniversary today, we had pre-booked a cake and a bottle of champagne. It takes a visit from the restaurant manager to sort our order out.

18:50 We have a starter, a soup and a main course while sipping on our champagne. The food is delicious!

20:30 The cake arrives for dessert. There are sparklers in it and suddenly our table is surrounded by waiters, all singing Happy Birthday at the top of their voices! Everyone in the restaurant is looking at us. I point at Gareth and our waiter puts the cake in front of him while we all laugh uproariously. He blows the candles out and pretends to make a wish. Happy birthday, Gareth!













21:00 Tonight’s theatre show is a tribute to 60s, 70s and 80s rock bands. We’re exhausted though, and decide to call it a night. We’ll need our beauty sleep for tomorrow’s visit to Maputo.

For more posts in the Anniversary Cruise 2014 trip, click here.

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