Here's an article by Chelna Mare - we were delighted when Chelna decided to start working with us at South Africa Travel Online a couple of months ago, and she is going for her first cruise from Durban next month.
17 January 2011
21 January 2011
Number of Nights
I've been having visions. Silk scarves billowing in the wind, Jackie O sunglasses, frosted cocktails and hazy, "soft focus" days. No, I am not suffering from heat stroke, I am simply bursting with excitement due to the fact that my dearly beloved and I will be going on a cruise in January 2011!
We will definitely fly into Durban a couple of days prior to the cruise to explore. Even though I have lived in South Africa for most of my life, I have never been to Durban! Shameful, I know. I envision a very busy two days, with at least one, touristy, rickshaw ride along the Golden Mile, messy Bunny Chows, a failed attempt at catching the Big One off North Beach Pier and hopefully an exquisite curry at Jaipur Palace. If there is any time at all, a visit to uShaka Marine World will certainly be on the list too.
Being a cruise virgin, I have decided to do some research as to prepare myself mentally and physically for what lies ahead. I have come up with my personal 3 Golden Rules:
Firstly, we will make sure not to miss the boat, but we will also not turn up 5 hours ahead of departure. I have read that the facilities at the N-Shed at Durban Harbour are very limited. Who wants to start a wonderful Durban cruise by waiting in a long queue in the sun? We will also triple check that we do in fact have our passports and sun cream with us!
Secondly, we will not try and sneak wine onto the ship. Apparently the prices are not that steep and it will save you the embarrassment of having your entire bag unpacked in front of hundreds of strangers. They even have wine packages available to purchase when you board. For instance, a selection of 4 quality South African wines and 7 bottles of mineral water will set you back a mere R 432. For R 127, you can enjoy a lovely bottle of chilled JC Le Roux and a platter with canap�s as you set sail.
Thirdly, I will try and lose approximately 20kg before going on this cruise, since I plan to taste every single dish on board. The MSC Sinfonia boasts 4 restaurants to choose from: 'Il Galeone and Il Covo, La Terrazz and Café del Mare. All meals are included as well as Midnight snacks after partying in the Pasha Night Club. 4 nights, 4 restaurants, I like the odds!
We are very lucky to have an outside cabin with a window. I can't wait to wake up the first morning, completely disorientated, and then realising that yes, I am actually on a massive, 9 storey high cruise ship on the way to Maputo! I have been told that these massive floating hotels have great big stabilisers to ensure a smooth ride. I will however be sure to pack sea sickness tablets. I doubt that I will feel ill, but I do not intend to wait to find out.
Once on board, we will load our cruise cards (the ship uses a cashless system) with South African Rands or US Dollars. You can top this up at any time and if there is anything left by the end of the cruise, you will receive it back in US Dollars.
We will definitely pack in a sophisticated outfit for the Captain's Cocktail party. The ever popular Captain Ciro Pinto his and crew will be dressed up to the nines in their dress uniforms. I am also very much looking forward to the Tropical Party, guests are encouraged to dress up and go a bit mad with glitter and bright colours.
I am very excited about the cruise to Maputo. There are so many different cultural influences, I will make time to go and see Maputo's Cathedral, "Our Lady of Conception", with its lofty white spire. Another must see architecturally would be the unbelievably impractical "Iron House" and the CFM Railway Station, both designed by Gustave Eiffel. One of the main reasons I have been dying to go to Mozambique, is the prawns. Marinated in peri peri sauce, cooked over an open fire and served with an icy cold Laurentina or 2M, bliss! We have the choice of booking an excursion as soon as we board, or we can go it alone and explore at our leisure. With only 6 hours in Maputo, we will be sure to cram in as much as we can! Do be sure to only have small denominations of dollars when shopping in Maputo, the local currency cannot be accepted on board.
We will spend an entire day on the Portuguese Island, a tiny uninhabited island about 40 km out to sea from Maputo. I have never tried snorkelling before, and from what I've heard, this is the perfect place to try. The clarity of the blue, tropical water has been highly praised and should make for wonderful underwater photos. We will be able to book our snorkelling fun on board for US $33. I am also looking forward to strolling on the pristine beach and digging my toes into the sand whilst looking for sand dollars.
It�s clear that I will be wishing away the days until the cruise, I have completed my online booking confirmation and my tickets will be emailed to me 2 weeks before departure, simple! All that is left to do now is lose the 20kg's and start planning my wardrobe! If you would also like to be breathlessly excited, please visit Starlight Cruise specials to check availability. And if you see me around on board, don't be shy, say hi!