Fred Olsen Lines by Garry Seach Black Watch January 31, 1999
It is often said of ships that they are the biggest man-made things which move. More significant though, is the fact that the modern ocean-going passenger liner or cruise ship is about the most comprehensive microcosm of human civilisation yet to be produced by mankind. For at least the duration of her voyages, the universality of the ship and her communities of passengers and crew potentially transcends that of most towns ashore. A totally self-contained environment encompassing virtually all facets of daily life is encapsulated aboard the liner.
There are the working facilities needed by the men and women who navigate her, keep her various services and amenities going and look after the well-being of her community. She is also equipped to provide her human compliment with the full and sophisticated lifestyle which they expect ashore. She generates her own electricity and fresh water, and is equipped with incinerators and a completely self-contained sewerage treatment plant. A ship only has brief periodic contact with the outside human world at her terminal ports and other destinations. Once everyone has disembarked and the umbilical gangways, mooring lines, fresh water hoses and tele-phone cables are severed, she is completely alone, underway in her own element, which is at times inhospitable to her and quite alien to some of those aboard.
On 31st January 1999 I left home on a hot and humid summer's day, bound for the airport to board my flight which would then take me to Cape Town to board the Black Watch, thus starts my journey for this fly/cruise voyage report.
If you have to fly, it should be good for the soul and strapping yourself into a pressurised tube where people with air-conditioned rictus smiles serve bad food is not. I did it the real way......with Sun Air and Kenya Airways.
As this was my first flight with Sun Air, I had no idea what to expect, except from the many good reports that I had heard from fellow travellers alike, and as I had only flown on Boeings and Airbus's, I had no idea what to expect from the MD 80 (Mcdonald Douglas). However on boarding, I was met with a rush of cool air, the air-conditioning was definitely working, this was going to be an enjoyable 2-hour flight. Smiling faces (genuine), greeted me as I was ushered to my seat, immediately I started looking around for the tell-tale scraps of paper left under the seats, and the somewhat dirty overhead panel that one finds far too often these days on some airlines. I found nothing, in fact the aircraft was so clean, and smelt so fresh inside I thought that this aircraft had just been rolled out of the manufacturing plant.
Service throughout the flight was extremely attentive, and the food, which was presented on china plates accompanied with stainless steel cutlery was fresh and well presented, even the tea and coffee was served in stainless steel pots. You won't find box food served on this airline. You were even presented with a freshly folded napkin carried on a stainless steel platter. Now that's service!
Throughout the flight you were pampered with professional staff who were never in a rush to have a decent conversation. Our departure was spot on time, and our arrival was slightly ahead of schedule, even though the radar at Cape Town was out of order from 30,000ft down to 9,000ft.
Never before have I been pampered so much in such a short space of time, and with Sun Air's newly introduced Executive Economy, they definitely outshine the rest on the domestic route here in sunny South Africa. I know which airline I will be choosing in the future, and if you want value for money and more, then I urge you to choose this airline and see for yourself why they are rated the best in the country.
As I approached the harbour, I was almost blinded by the sheer brightness from the exterior paint-work of Black Watch, she was shining in the Cape sun, even after being at sea for 26 days since leaving Dover on 5th January, she had arrived the previous day after an eight-day voyage across the Atlantic since departing from Rio de Janeiro. The second phase of my journey was about to begin.
On any cruise, choosing the right cabin is crucial, some people like a lot of space. For others, a cabin is just a place to sleep and change and shower. Black Watch was designed for long distance voyages, and besides her splendid choice of public rooms and extensive open decks and lidos, this ship offers generously sized cabins as a matter of course.
You'll find that air-conditioning, co-ordinated soft furnishings, reading lights, ample wardrobe space and comfortable beds made up with fresh linen come as standard features in all of her cabins, as do the ministrations of your attentive cabin stewardess. She's your lady for continental breakfast in bed - every morning if you like - and she will also keep your room immaculate, your supply of fluffy towels topped up, your laundry collected and delivered. If you need anything else, from canap‚s, ice and mixers for a party to a vase for the flowers you bought in port, just ask.
Of course, no two people demand the same things from their cabin. So Black Watch offers the widest range of cabin types imaginable. If all you need is a comfortable base from which to explore, then the choice is yours. If you prefer a shower or bath, it's yours; so too is an ocean view.
Of course, additional luxury is available at a price. If you want the luxury of a refrigerator, a bar or a separate sitting room, you will find that Black Watch have a number of elegant Suites to suit you, perhaps a Superior outside cabin might be your ideal cabin. However each cabin comes with TV, hairdryer, telephone and radio as standard features. In fact aboard Black Watch 90% of her cabins have sea-views, not only that, with 17 categories of cabins spread over 6 of her 10 roomy decks, you will find you have room to move and to unpack, room to relax as you watch the world glide by, even room enough to entertain friends. All are designed to help you unwind. It's no wonder you'll feel totally at home: when was home ever this civilised?
Regardless of your fare, you'll have the full run of all your ship's facilities and entertainment.
From the moment you are welcomed aboard your magnificent floating hotel, your outlook on life will change. Quite literally every few days once you're out to sea. Surrounded by the efficient yet discreet and friendly service from her officers, and highly trained crew, you'll find a way of life to suit you exactly, on a cruise liner where only the best will do - and be offered.
Interior d‚cor is restful, having been made more attractive in a 1996 refit. Good materials, fabrics and soft furnishings add to a pleasant ambience and warmth. Small enough to be intimate and friendly, Black Watch is at the same time large enough to offer her passengers new delights with each new day on board.
Take places to eat, one of the many enticing prospects that you have to look forward to is a series of wonderful meals from traditional English breakfasts and lavish lunches to sumptuous seven course dinners. The mouth watering choice includes the Glentanar Restaurant or Orchid Room for dinning with a dash of class. Here the code is strictly formal, semi-formal and on selected nights casual. Night after night you'll be greeted with a different dinner menu. Less formal is the delightful Garden Caf‚. You will soon learn that sweet little old ladies can be ruthlessly competitive when food is in the offing. Best of all, after every meal, the bill remains conspicuous by its absence! Black Watch has no less than 19 chefs aboard, and Fred. Olsen chefs use only the finest ingredients, adding their renowned culinary skills to prepare food that's deliciously irresistible.
As you make your way to your next exotic destination, you'll find that there's an immense variety of things to do. By day you can soak up the sun on the open decks, swim in a choice of two swimming pools or keep yourself trim at the fully equipped gymnasium set high atop the ship.
After dark, the nightlife dazzles As day changes into night, so the atmosphere on board subtly and gradually changes too - from sun to sophisticated, glittering nightlife. And when dressing for the occasion becomes part of the fun - a chance for the ladies to wear their finery. Watch the sun go down whilst drinking a new cocktail or aperitif in one of the many elegant bars, before going on to a splendid dinner.
For the rest of the night, follow whatever mood takes you. To a lively show or cabaret, perhaps it's a theme night, or a fun-filled gala evening. Dancing cheek to cheek in the moonlight, or disco dancing till the small hours.
Or just relax. A game of cards and a quiet drink with friends in the Observatory or the Pipers bar. See a new release film in the good 150 seat movie theatre with steeply tiered floor, or curl up with a good book from the Explorers Library also set high atop the ship. Then stroll around the deck to watch the glittering stars and the tumbling wake, and dream perhaps of what's waiting over the dark horizon.
Whoever said that one day is much like any other had clearly never sailed with Fred. Olsen Cruise Line. Have a sports day, swim a few laps in the crystal clear pool, jog (or stroll) a mile or two, join an aerobics class, practice your tennis, learn shuffleboard and round things off with a tingling sauna or a soothing massage. Perhaps you'd prefer something more informative?
You can learn history and geography at their enthralling port lectures, savour gastronomy over a five-course lunch, perfect your bridge game and refine your chacha with expert instructors.
Or have a day away.
When you reach port, you'll find just as many options. Specially planned and meticulously arranged tours will show you all that is best and most beautiful and leave you rewarded, refreshed - and replete with lunch when appropriate.
If you are feeling independent, Fred.Olsen Cruise Lines provide advice and guides to help you discover the perfect restaurant, the hidden beach or the little-known out-of-the-way temple.
Wherever you are, whatever your inclination you'll find that - with one crew member to every two guests - their service is unobtrusively excellent throughout the ship. From the bar steward who fetches drinks poolside to the helpful staff at the ship's office, from the wine waiter who offers a string of affordable recommendations to the comedian who entertains you one night then beats you at tennis the next day, each and every member of your ship's complement shares a genuine desire to cosset you all around the world, and are all excellent ambassadors for their respective countries.
When you cruise with Fred. Olsen, a whole world of exciting options awaits you. And, whatever you select from this palate of options, one thing is clear; your days with Fred. Olsen will be among the most varied, the most enthralling and the most rewarding of your life with the friendliest crew I have come across.
And so, another dawn, another day with perhaps a new country to explore, new friends to make, another sport or activity to try. Or just a new way to relax and do absolutely nothing at all, the British way.
At 28,492 tons, this handsome ship has a sharply raked bow and distinctive lines, excellent open decks and sunning space with a complete wrap-around promenade (5 laps = 1 mile).
Stretched in 1981, this ship provides an excellent cruise experience for all discerning South Africans at a decent price, and there are no tannoy announcements during the day or night, except for the captain's weather report at 9a.m. and 1p.m. It is Fred. Olsen's policy not to disturb the guests unnecessarily.
During 1999 Fred. Olsen Cruise Line offers 50 cruises ranging from 3 to 68 nights, and reaches out to over 40 countries of the world.
At the time of Queen Elizabeth 2's debut there were several Norwegian - owned cruise ships which were still at an early enough stage of planning or construction for new ideas to be incorporated into their design.
Black Watch (ex - Royal Viking Star, Westward, Star Odyssey) was the first to be built for Royal Viking Line which incorporated new ideas into the construction of this vessel. After studying some 40 liners and cruise ships then in service, the lines owners were apparently most impressed with Oceanic and Queen Elizabeth 2. Of the two it is clearly the Cunard ship which has had the greater influence on this ship.
Externally, the funnel gives this ship its only readily recognisable link with Queen Elizabeth 2. The outer boot enclosing the stack and the wind scoop at its base together provided the only effective way of keeping exhaust gases and soot away from the decks. QE2's other influences bear mainly on internal layout. The galley is fully forward, the dining room amidships and the main lounge aft. There is also a swimming pool and lido on the open deck still further aft. At approximately one-third the tonnage and passenger capacity of QE2, the whole scheme is rendered on a proportionately smaller and thus more intimate scale.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Line made extensive changes to Black Watch soon after her purchase from Royal Cruise Line at the cost of millions of Pounds.
The Royal Highlanders Lounge was increased in size and renamed The Braemar Room. The Royal Garter Restaurant was completely revamped and renamed The Glentanar Restaurant. On the lounge deck where the Brassiere was situated, this has now become divided in two and subsequently renamed The Orchid Room and The Garden Cafe.
Down on the Lido Deck, the games room has now become The Cove. Up on Deck 10, the Sun Deck Forward has now become the Fitness Centre, Saunas and Gymnasium. The Sun Deck amidships remains the same.
Lastly the stern end of the Lounge Deck on Deck 6 has been extended aft, and a new pool has been designed.
A ship-like interior starts from the unique conditions of shipboard life and shipboard spaces, and becomes expressive in so far as it enhances the life that is lived in those spaces. It needs to make excessively wide and low rooms humanely comprehensible before it begins to play games with port and starboard lanterns to remind passengers of something they already know - that they are on a ship. Indeed if ship interior architects would stop imitating hotels or falling over backwards to prove they have stopped imitating hotels and approach their design problems with the same honesty and purpose as the best hotel architects, a convincing shiplike character would emerge without strain and equivocation. Where Black Watch is most conspicuously successful is where this kind of result has emerged from this kind of thinking. The decoration of the rooms is based on their use, and stems from the way they work.... The fact that the designers have had some hand in the choice of all equipment seen or used by passengers means that there is equally a sense of visual unity of the whole ship, complimented with high ceilings.
Fred. Olsen Cruise Lines - A Brief History
The foundations of the present firm of Fred. Olsen & Co. Were laid in the middle of the 19th Century by the three brothers Frederik Christian, Petter and Andreas Olsen, of Hvidsten. After the repeal of the Navigation Act and during the subsequent expansion in shipping caused by the Crimean War, these vigorous and experienced brothers (they were all ship's captains) took advantage of the favourable times. Frederik Christian Olsen bought his first two sailing ships, the schooners Johanne Christie and Elizabeth in 1848. He died in 1875 having owned 22 sailing ships.
Petter Olsen's ship-owning career began in 1852 with the brig Thilda. In his lifetime he owned a total of 16 sailing ships, besides part interests in several steam-ships. Andreas Olsen bought the barque De Tre Venner in 1860 and subsequently owned five other sailing ships.
Petter Olsen's son Fredrik was this continuing an established tradition when, in 1886, he took over the management of two of his father's ships. By then the Olsen's had owned nearly 40 vessels.
Two characteristics make the Fred. Olsen ships easily recognisable. One is the blue and white house flag, the other is that their names begin with the letter "B". And so brings to mind the name "Black Watch"
"Black Watch" - a short history of the 51st Highland Division In the years after the 1715 rebellion, the Highlands of Scotland were largely impenetrable and home to many discontented Highlanders with no love of the English Crown. In 1724 General George Wade was appointed Commander In Chief for Scotland and one aspect of his tenure in office was the construction of roads into the highlands along which -his soldiers and their baggage wagons could move. The following year saw the raising of six independent companies of the Highlanders, from the loyal clans of Campbell, Grant, Fraser and Munro who were authorised to carry arms when others were forbidden to do so. Totalling perhaps 500 men overall, the purpose of these independent companies of hand picked now Jacobite Highlanders was to prevent inter-clan fighting, stop raids into the Lowlands, to enforce the anti-arms laws and to prevent plotting against the government and Crown. The independent companies became known as The Black Watch due to the watch they maintained over the Highlands, and the dark tartan which they wore.
In 1739 the Independent Companies became embodied as a regiment in the British Army. In those days Regiments were numbered and this new Regiment became the 42nd. Only in the late 19th Century was the title of The Black Watch fully adopted.
The Regiment is thus the ancestor of all other famous Regiments that have been raised in the Highlands. It brought bagpipes to the British Army and until 1815 its principle tongue was Gaelic. From Dirk to Automatic rifle, Claymore to Mechanisation, the weapons may change but The Black Watch proudly maintains its tradition, elan and fighting spirit for which it is justly famous and which has been built up over a period of loyal service of more than 250 years.
The Regiment, which has survived recent cuts, still forms an important part of the British Army.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen mother has been Colonel in Chief of The Black Watch for over 60 years. One of her brothers was killed in World War 1 serving with the Black Watch. The Regimental Badge and Motto The Regimental cap badge shows St. Andrew holding his cross, and the Regimental motto Nemo Me Impune Lacessit (nobody provokes me without getting hurt) was granted in 1768. The sphinx is an honour granted for the Regiment's service in Egypt in 1801.
Cruise Line: Fred. Olsen Cruise Line
Former Names: Star Odyssey/Westward/Royal Viking Star
Gross Tonnage: 28, 492
Builder: Wartsila (Finland
Original Cost: $22.5 million
Christened by: Mrs Thor Heyerdahl
Entered Service: Jun 26, 1972/May 9, 1994
Interior Design: Njal Eide
Length (ft/m): 674.1/205.47
Beam (ft/m): 82.6/25.20
Draft (ft/m): 24.7/7.55
Propulsion: diesel (13,400kW)
Propellers: 2 (CP)
Total Cabins: 404
Outside Cabins: 356
Inside Cabins: 48
Balcony Cabins: 9
Wheelchair Cabins: 0
Cabin Current: 110/220ACCUSED
Refrigerator: Category 1-6 only
Cabin TV: Yes
Dining Rooms: 1
Slot Machines: Yes
Swimming Pools (outside): 2
Sauna/Steam Room: Yes/Yes
Self - Service Launderette: Yes
Movie Theatre/Seats: Yes/156
- Classification Society
- Det Norske Veritas Cruise Log In Command Captain Erik Tengelsen Navigator Samson Roxas Cruise 900C Africa Sunday 31st January - Sunday 14th February 1999 Cape Town - Reunion Island 2193 N.M. Reunion Island - Mauritius 139 N.M. Mauritius - Nosy Be 841 N.M. Nosy be - Zanzibar 709 N.M. Zanzibar - Mombasa 158 N.M. Total Mileage for Cruise 900C 4040 nautical Miles
Sunday 31st January - Cape Town Black Watch remained in Cape Town Overnight. The wind at noon was south easterly light air Force 2. There was a sunny, clear sky and the air temperature was 29øC/84øF Sea temperature 22øC/72øF
Monday 1st February - Cape Town At noon the wind was south-easterly Force 2 light air. There was a clear and sunny sky and the air temperature was 27øC/81øF. At 1700 all passengers and crew were on board and Black Watch was preparing to sail for Reunion Island. At 1807 the pilot boarded the ship. At 1820 we started to single up and all lines were clear at 1830. We manoeuvred from the berth assisted by two tugs, At 1856 the pilot disembarked, and Black Watch sailed for the open sea. The wind was south easterly fresh breeze, Force 5. There were rough seas and partly cloudy skies. At 2200 we passed the Cape of Good Hope bearing 23ø at a distance of 7. 9 N.M.
Tuesday 2nd February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 34ø 49. 0'S, Long: 023ø 11.0'E. This position was 44 N.M. south south-west of Cape Agulhas on the southern coast of South Africa. The ship was steering a course of 074ø at an average speed of 17.5 knots. The remaining distance to the pilot station at Reunion Island was 1,886 N.M. The wind was southerly Force 3 gentle breeze. The sea was slight and the visibility good. The air temperature was 26øC/79øF
Wednesday 3rd February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 32ø 24.0'S, Long: 031ø 17.0'E. This position was 135 N.M. south of Durban on the east coast of South Africa. The ship was steering a course of 063ø at an average speed of 17.6 knots. The remaining distance to the pilot station at Reunion Island was 1,463 N.M. The wind was south-south westerly Force 6 strong breeze. The sea was rough and the sky was overcast. The air temperature was 26øC/79øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 3,619m / 11,867ft.
Thursday 4th February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 29ø 13.0'S, Long: 038ø 14,0'E. This position was 375N.M. east of Durban on the east coast of South Africa. The ship was steering a course of 063ø at an average speed of 18.0 knots. The remaining distance to the pilot station at Reunion Island was 1,059 N.M. The wind was north-north easterly Force 3 gentle breeze and the sea was slight. There was good visibility although the sky was cloudy with a few glimpses of sunshine. The air temperature was 25øC/77 øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 4,899m / 16,073ft.
Friday 5th February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 26ø 20.0'S, Long: 045ø 05.0'E. This position was 25 N.M. south of Cape St. Marie on the southern tip of Madagascar. The ship was steering a course of 060ø at an average speed of 17.1 knots. The wind was easterly Force 6 fresh breeze and the sea was rough to very rough. There was good visibility and it was sunny with scattered clouds. The air temperature was 29øC/84 øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 77m / 253ft.
Saturday 6th February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 23ø 01.0'S, Long: 051ø 12.o'E. This position was 185 N.M. east of Manacara on the east coast of Madagascar. The ship was steering a course of 063ø at an average speed of 16.5 knots. The wind was east north-easterly Force 6 strong breeze and the sea was very rough. The sky was partly cloudy with the possibility of rain. The air temperature was 29øC/84øF. the depth of the sea at noon was 3,253m / 10,673ft.
Sunday 7th February - Reunion At 06.30 we began our final approach to Port de la Pointe des Galets. At 0641 the pilot boarded the vessel and the Master brought her alongside. At 0734 the first line was sent ashore and all lines were made fast by 0756. The weather on arrival was partly cloudy, north-easterly wind Force 6 strong breeze and rough sea. The air temperature was 28 øC/ 82øF. At noon the wind was north-easterly Force 6 strong breeze. The sky was partly cloudy with good visibility. The air temperature was 30øC / 86øF. At 1645 the ship prepared for departure. At 1756 the pilot boarded the vessel, and at 1805 we started to cast off all lines. A tug boat was made fast fwd. on the port bow to assist. At 1807 all mooring lines were cast off and clear and we manoeuvred from the berth. The tug boat was clear at 1819 and the pilot disembarked as we headed for the open sea.
Monday 8th February - Mauritius At 0600 we began our final approach to Port Louis. The pilot boarded the vessel at 0710 and we entered the harbour. The master brought her alongside to the berth and at 0748 the first line was sent ashore. All lines were made fast by 0804 and the pilot disembarked. The weather on arrival was sunny with a clear sky. The wind was north-easterly Force 3 gentle breeze and a slight sea. The visibility was good. The air temperature was 27 øC / 81øF. At 2200 the ship prepared for departure. At 2311 the pilot boarded the vessel, and at 2328 we started to single up. All lines were cast off by 2333 and we manoeuvred from the berth. The pilot disembarked and we headed for the open sea on course 317ø. The wind was easterly Force 2 light breeze and there was a smooth sea.
Tuesday 9th February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 17ø 35.0'S, Long: 054ø 55.0'E. This position was 326 N.M. east of Port of Taomasina on the north-east coast of Madagascar. The ship was steering a course of 317ø at an average speed of 17.1 knots. The wind was east north-easterly Force 3 gentle breeze and the sea was slight. It was sunny with light clouds and the visibility was good. The air temperature was 29øC / 84øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 4,208m / 13,806ft.
Wednesday 10th February - At sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 13ø 11.0'S, Long: 050ø 39.0'E. This position was 105 N.M. south east of Cape D'Ambre the most northern part of Madagascar. The ship was steering a course of 320ø at an average speed of 15.5 knots. The wind was northerly Force 3 gentle breeze and the sea was slight. It was sunny with light clouds and the visibility was good. The air temperature was 30øC / 86øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 2,739m / 8,957ft.
Thursday 11th February - Nose bay, Madagascar. At 0600 we began our final approach to the anchorage position 1 N.M. south of the town of Hellville, Nosy Be. We started to `walk out' the port anchor at 0627 and at 0633 we were anchored with 4 shackles in the water. The weather on arrival was sunny with some light clouds. The wind was north-easterly Force 2 light breeze and a smooth sea. The air temperature was 30øC / 86øF. The depth of the sea at anchor was 22m / 72ft. At 1700 the ship prepared for departure. At 1745 we started to heave the port anchor and the anchor was aweigh at 1800. It was partly cloudy, the wind was variable Force 2 light breeze and there was a smooth sea.
Friday 12th February - At Sea The ship's noon position was Lat: 10ø 30.0'S, Long: 043ø 32.0'E. This position was 52 N.M. north of Grande Comores group of islands. The ship was steering a course of 313ø at an average speed of 18.6 knots. The wind was north north-easterly Force 3 gentle breeze and the sea was slight. It was sunny, party cloudy and the visibility was good. The air temperature was 30øC / 86øF. The depth of the sea at noon was 3,402m / 11,161ft.
Saturday 13th February - Zanzibar At 0800 the ship entered the Zanzibar channel at the southern entrance and on the port side we could see the city of Dar Es Salaam. The ship was on her final approach to the Zanzibar pilot station on course 015ø. The pilot boarded the vessel at 1012 and the Master brought her to the anchorage position. The anchor was dropped at 1050 0.5 N.M. north of Zanzibar. The weather on arrival was sunny with light clouds. The wind was west north-westerly Force 2 light breeze and a smooth sea. The air temperature was 31øC / 88øF. At 1900 the ship prepared for departure. At 1945 the pilot boarded the vessel, and we started to heave up the anchor. The anchor was aweigh at 2000 and we departed from Zanzibar. The pilot disembarked at 2035 and we headed for the open sea setting a course towards Mombasa.
Sunday 14th February - Mombasa At 0600 we began our final approach to Mombasa. The pilot boarded the vessel at 0605 and we proceeded along the narrow channel towards the port. The Master brought her alongside in to the berth at Mbaraki Quay and the first line was sent ashore. All lines were made fast by 0700 and the pilot disembarked.
DISEMBARKATION And so my journey had come to an end. At 0900 I disembarked Black Watch for the last time and like Grand Princess, Black Watch passengers are also issued with a cruise card and are also instructed to swipe this card into the machine known as APASS that records your exit and re-entry onto the ship. However on this occasion after swiping it through the machine, this card remained behind with the security personnel. I did not want to get off this magnificent ship, and after having been to sea 21 times I still cannot get used to getting off a ship for the last time, one last look at her towering above the docks brought a wave of nostalgia over me - I was leaving home for good.
To sum up, the Black Watch is a ship of endless pleasures, and if you have not sailed with Fred. Olsen Cruise Line before, then I can promise you the warmest of welcomes aboard. (See also `Cruising Itineraries')
The Editor travelled `incognito' aboard the Black Watch and was accorded no special privileges.
The third and final phase of my journey had now begun, I was now off to the Safari Park Beach Hotel at Diani Beach, Mombasa which is part of the Alliance Group of hotels. After taking the ferry across the channel that Black Watch had sailed up 2 hours earlier, I was taken south by hotel courtesy bus, a journey which lasted almost one hour. This was to be my final stop before jetting out to Nairobi for my connection to Johannesburg, and then on to Durban.
The temperature together with the humidity that morning reached a soaring 41ø C. On arrival at the Safari Park Beach Hotel and after alighting from the courtesy bus, I was met by a steward bearing a face cloth on a silver platter that was ice cold, what a relief, if the bus had not been air-conditioned I don't think I would have lasted through that one hour journey.
This hotel complex is set in an idyllic tropical setting in an eco-friendly environment, five "watering holes" (bars) all delightfully different and a friendly courteous service can be your dream holiday at Safari Beach Hotel on Kenya's magnificent South Coast Diani Beach.
Guests at the Alliance Hotels will rhapsodise over the silvery white sandy beach at Safari Beach Hotel while the Indian Ocean is not only warm to swim in but safe because of the protective coral reef which runs along it (thirteen in total). The lovely landscaped gardens have many shady trees to protect against the burning sun, including the sweet smelling frangipani and some ancient baobabs, as well as many exotic plants.
Sports and recreational facilities are abound. In the Indian Ocean these include windsurfing, deep-sea fishing and scuba diving for the hotel boasts of having an excellent well-equipped diving centre and school with qualified S.S.I. instructors who are also well versed in underwater exploration.
On land, the hotel has two crystalline swimming pools, three tennis courts and two squash courts, an Aerobics Room and Fitness centre equipped with all the latest Technogym equipment from Italy. There are animators to keep the action going, for those so inclined, which includes competitions in the swimming pool and the beach. For the lazy ones there are comfy sunbeds strategically under shady trees close to the sea. Waiters hover ready to speedily bring you a thirst quenching drink, or even a madafu straight from a palm tree. There are four delightful restaurants, including the grillroom with exotic tropical d‚cor offering an a la carte menu of haute cuisine prepared by innovative and experienced chefs from Kenya and abroad. Many of the managers and staff were trained at Kenya's prestigious Utalii college to international standards.
During the day snacks are available at the Beachcomber's Brassiere, and sportsman's Club, while from the al-fresco Lobsteria comes seafood specialities.
Italian sorbets made from fresh fruit are obtainable from the Zanzibar Ice cream Parlour -as well as Espresso coffee and fresh fruit juices.
There is entertainment each night of the week including resident bands for dancing folklore and theme evenings, fashion and acrobatic shows, while you can continue in the Safari Sands Club until the early hours of the morning. From midday this club becomes a very intimate and cosy pub with satellite TV.
Safari Beach Hotel is part of the Alliance Hotels - one of the leading hotel chains in Kenya. It also embraces Naro Moro River Lodge in the foothills of Mt. Kenya. Others on the South Coast are Africana Sea Lodge and Jadini Beach Hotel, which are adjacent, it makes an ideal pub crawl along the beach.
A shuttle bus service operates between them every half-hour of the evening. Facilities at all three hotels are interchangeable giving guests a choice of ten restaurants, ten bars, four swimming pools, eight shops and boutiques. Safari Beach Hotels abounds with work by talented local artists, wall murals also wood sculpture ranging from large animals seen in and around the hotels to smaller ones found on the door of your room.
Such was the popularity of Safari Beach Hotel, it's international hospitality and for offering such good value for money, that just four years after it opened in 1986 it was extended with major renovations taking place to keep it ahead of others in the area. Its architectural concept is that of an african village with one-storied white rondavels built to European standards.
Rooms are all air-conditioned and spacious with telephone, piped music and `mini' fridge. They are elegantly furnished most having two comfortable 4ft wide beds. There are also six suites a la mode.
Other facilities include a kiddie's club, hairdresser, laundry services, overnight film developing, car hire and excursions and transfers to the airport or railway station. They will even collect you direct from the gangway of your ship, apparently my arrival was the first of such collection from a passenger ship.
There is a golf course in the Diani area, while Jadini Beach Hotel has its own football ground, as well as a very popular discotheque `THE BANDA'. Southern Cross Safaris offer some `magical moments' aboard Mombasa's famous Tamarind Dhow as well as two days at Satao Camp in Tsavo East National Park for an exciting safari experience.
Dhows from the Middle and Far East have been trading along the East African Coast for over 2,000 years, those from Arabia bringing among other things Persian Carpets and exotic Arab Chests.
The Tamarind Dhow, an original Arabic sailing vessel has been converted into a floating restaurant..... The magical moments it offers on board are enhanced by a classical sundowner cocktail `DAWA' offered to guests as they board, as well as a sweet smelling carnation!
From the Tamarind Jetty at sunset you cruise to Mombasa's old harbour and Fort Jesus - all part of the tempestuous history of Mombasa Island, once known as Mvita the Island of War during the time of the Portuguese occupation.
As the resident band plays you cruise gently up the beautiful Tudor Creek, the highlight of the gourmet meal, cooked in situ, are huge grilled fresh lobsters, prawns and steaks. Afterwards, there is dancing under a moonlit sky.
In addition, an exciting two day safari can be arranged to Satoa Camp in Kenya's most famous Tsavo East National Park where from the verandah of your spacious tent (with all mod-con) you can see a variety of game visiting a watering holes. Satoa Camp is home to Trevor and Ann Jennings - its founders. They are veterans in bush life adding a very personal touch to the camp with many exciting stories to be told around the fire, or bar, at night.
From Steve and Sally Mullens comes an adventurous trip in their traditional Dhow to Kenya's most beautiful Marine Park Kisite Mpunguti at Shimoni. Covering 28 sq.Km it has awesome coral gardens and is home to a great variety of spectacular fish. Declared one visitor "it is like swimming in an aquarium".
Kisite Mpunguti rates as the second best marine park in the world nest to Australia's Great Barrier Reef. After swimming and goggling in the translucent sea there is a delicious seafood lunch ashore on the Islamic Wasini Island.
Sally and Steve offer a very personalised service and a day with them is truly adventurous.
After a relaxing period at the Safari Beach Hotel it was now time to depart for South Africa. The journey to Mombasa Airport is a 2-hour journey, and as the shuttle bus leaves at 4am, I had to awaken at 2 a.m. Continental breakfast is served from 2a.m. in the main restaurant. The journey to the airport in the wee hours of the morning went off uneventful, arriving here at 6 a.m. promptly for the 7 a.m. connecting flight to Nairobi International. I decided to fly back to South Africa with Kenya Airlines to sample their hospitality. One must note however that at both these airports there are no tannoy announcements depicting the departure of your flight, an attendant comes to the departure lounge and verbally announces the departure of your particular flight, so one must keep watch of the time and it is advisable not to venture too far off from the departure lounge, you may just miss your flight.
Boarding the Boeing 737-300 at Mombasa I was met by a courteous flight attendant dressed very smartly indeed. With a warm African smile she ushered me to my seat for the duration of this 45-minute hop over to Nairobi. As this was the first flight of the day I was issued with a light breakfast snack, and found the food to be well presented and most importantly, fresh. Although the aircraft was packed to capacity the service aboard was friendly and efficient.
Boarding the Airbus A310-300 at Nairobi I was again met with the same efficient service as before, and as this was a four-hour flight to Johannesburg I had time to relax and unwind, and of course had the opportunity to do an overall check for cleanliness. I have to admit that this airline conforms to all the health regulations as laid down by International standards, and found the aircraft to be spotlessly clean. I also had the opportunity to sample lunch aboard this flight, and unlike many International operators, the food aboard this airline was well presented, fresh and plentiful. The air-mixture at 39,000 ft was clean and did not burn the nasal passages as one experiences far too often on long haul flights from other airlines.
The Kenya Airways network opens up a whole new world of possibilities for travellers to and from South Africa and East Africa. Together with partner airlines, the airline now offers customers more flights to more world-wide destinations with less time wasted at airports, before and between connections.
Together with KLM, Kenya Airways now operates an astonishing 21 scheduled weekly flights to Europe with eight to London Heathrow, eleven to Amsterdam Schiphol, one to Copenhagen and one to Stockholm. The increase in frequency means that Kenya Airways and KLM fly to Europe three times more often than their nearest competitor. Passengers can choose to travel by day or night which is extremely good news for business people who are forever trying to streamline schedules and maximise opportunities. It is also comforting to know that Kenya Airways is the only airline that flies between Nairobi and Heathrow airports every day.
Kenya Airways has gone further by signing co-operation agreements with major intercontinental carriers to further widen its international reach.
A co-operation agreement with Northwest Airlines of the United States has introduced code-share flights by both airlines between North America and Kenya, connecting at Amsterdam and on Kenya Airways' services beyond Nairobi into the region. And recently they have entered into a co-operation agreement with Alitalia which links their service into two important southern European hubs: Rome and Milan.
Together, Kenya Airways, Northwest and KLM service over 400 destinations in over 80 countries and operate over 60,000 code-share flights per month. Recently Northwest entered into a strategic alliance with Continental Airlines which transformed the Northwest/KLM alliance, of which Kenya Airways is a member, into the second largest airline global alliance.
Flights between Nairobi and Mombasa are now served by an all-jet fleet, branded jet-link with a flying time of only 45 minutes and new levels of comfort and convenience. The airlines' decision to make the Nairobi-Mombasa route an all-jet service was taken in recognition of the growing business from domestic travel and international passengers extending their travel from Nairobi to Mombasa. The airline now operates 54 weekly flights between Nairobi and Mombasa.
A single check-in facility allows passengers to acquire seat numbers and boarding cards for every leg of their journey at the first point of departure leaving them free to spend time more enjoyably in all the connecting airports. Kenya Airlines therefore comes highly recommended and I can also highly endorse that recommendation. Before choosing another airline to Europe or North America I highly recommend that you choose Kenya Airways - Bon Voyage.
Facts File Kenya is an independent Republic within the British Commonwealth and is also a member of the United Nations Organisation of African Unity. It covers 585,000 square kilometres (226,000 square miles) and is situated on the Equator. The capital city of Nairobi is some 80 miles south of the Equator at an altitude of 5,425 feet.
Kenya has a peaceful multi-racial society. The population is approximately 25 million and about one million live in Nairobi. There are more than 40 ethnic tribes living in Kenya. The main languages are Kiswahili and English though many other languages and dialects are also in use. Kenya is in the GMT +3 hours time zone and follows the Christian calendar. Kenya enjoys an ideal climate, with two distinct rainy seasons and two dry seasons every year. The hottest months of the year are December through March which are followed by the `long rains' until early June. The Kenyan `winter' is from late June until early September and this is followed by the `short rains' which often last until early December. ú Some form of protective head covering against the sun is essential almost everywhere in Kenya. Be prepared for cool evenings at higher altitudes; and during July and August you may well need something warm during the day too.
The local currency is the Kenyan Shilling which is divided into one hundred cents. There are limitations on the amount of Kenya currency which may be brought in and taken out of the country, but visitors may import foreign exchange freely.
Driving is on the left in Kenya, but be warned that the standard of driving and vehicle maintenance leaves something to be desired, so always be prepared for the unexpected. When driving in Kenya, you may occasionally be approached by an oncoming Police Mercedes car with its headlights full on, followed by other vehicles. This could be the Presidential Escort and you must stop immediately and pull over to your left until the President and his entourage have passed by.
Garry Seach Editor/Publisher Anchors Aweigh Publication email@example.com