If you are looking for a holiday with a difference – I have great news for you.
By courtesy of our generous hosts South African Tourism new horizons were opened up to me and a group of fellow journalists from Botswana when we were invited on a four day cruise from Durban to Cape Town.
For someone who lives in a landlocked country two thirds of which is desert, and whose only experience of ocean going liners comes from the movie Titanic, boarding the luxury cruise ship MSC Sinfornia was an exciting voyage of discovery.
The first wonder of many that were to follow was how such a seemingly top heavy floating hotel 251.25 meters long could actually move, let alone float.
I checked in and was given a key card to open my cabin door that also served as an onboard ID and debit or credit card together with information on emergency meeting points. All set I am escorted to my cabin, which has two beds as I am sharing with none other than Uncle Shima of Gabz FM.
If you are wondering why I needed to be escorted, it is because the ship consists of a labyrinth of 12 floors, 9 elevators, 9 passenger decks, 2 swimming pools and 2 spar baths, so getting lost was a distinct possibility. But it was not long before I became familiar with the surroundings that were to be my home for the next four days.
If your idea of a ship is limited to the set of the Titanic, then you will not be disappointed with the luxury fittings and furnishings of this vessel with its 132 suites with private balcony, 371 outside cabins, 2 family suites and 272 inside cabins. That’s a lot of ship, and not an iceberg in sight!
The on-board activities are designed to meet everyone’s needs. If you’re the type who keeps fit then the top deck has track for you to walk or jog. A massage parlour and spa are also available. Kids are well catered for should their parents want to relax while they are being entertained. Mini golf, video games room, Pinocchio Mini Club with children’s playroom, teenagers club, teens disco and shuffleboard are just some of the offerings.
Or you can load your key card with money and let explore the onboard shopping centre.
And when you’re not doing that or being otherwise entertained, or have fallen asleep – then it’s time to eat. Food on the ship forms an important part of the experience. I explored most of the variety of eating venues, from the Galeone, a formal high-class restaurant where I would have my breakfast and dinner to the Cafe Del Mare, which is casual and very relaxed with access to eat outside, and the Gelateria bar where ice cream is served.
Entertainment on the ship is 24 hours and there are a number of pubs around to cater for most tastes. Shelagh’s House Irish Pub, popular with smokers or Cafe Le Baroque for drinks and coffee.
The Ambassador Lounge is where you will find men in blazers drinking whiskey and talking business and politics. I did check it out to see how the old folks do it and it was impressive, but the Theatre Club was my favourite.
Here performances by the entertainment crew were an every night feature and I would be richly entertained watching world-class musicals. My nightlife was usually spent mostly at Pasha Club on the 12th floor where most of the younger people
meet and I was able to show off my fancy foot work with dance moves from home. Rave, hip-hop, house music, pop – you name it, the ship was alive with the sound of music.
The club has a well stocked bar and snacks are served throughout the night.
As I write this I can still hear the music pulsating from the Pasha club together the crash of the waves and roar of revellers on the dance floor. It is a holiday I would gladly pay for next time, but this time around I am indebted to SA Tourism’s hospitality. A big thanks to you guys.