28.05.2010 - 30.05.2010
The cross-ship transfer had, like pretty much everything else, been a bit farcial and poorly planned but had essentially taken place without incident. My bags arrived and our new ship, the MS Westerdam, had an almost identical layout meaning I did not spend hours wandering around lost. Well, not deliberately, anyway. With departure not slated until 3am, I had headed back out at midnight, partly as I wasn't yet tired and had nothing better to do, and partly out of curiosity: I followed small packs of crewmen from both ships out on leave, and taking a different direction from the port, had stumbled upon a (now mostly closed) shopping centre which would have been of significantly more use if i'd known about it before – cheap supplies and a large internet cafe could have been utilised. Instead, I amused myself watching the mass of Filipino crew pretty much buy out the entire stock of a small Asian grocer near the port entrance (masses of bottled water and instant noodles were purchased. As these are all people who work on the ship, this is probably significant, though I'm not sure which worries me most: their need to buy food or water), and also form huge queues at a local McDonalds and Kebab shop. I then took a quick stroll back round the port where local youths with their booze, thumping music and souped-up boy-racer cars were starting their Friday nights, and headed back on board around 2am.
I awoke with us well under way, and, allegedly, with no more changes to ship or plans still to occur. The daily program had been delivered to my “stateroom” (a fancy word for the level of accommodation I am in) which indicated that despite a delay of 27hours to the timings I had received and been working to all along, and with a significantly longer stop in Tenerife listed, we are actually scheduled into Cape Town 9hours earlier than planned. If I had known that, I would have arranged to collect my hire car that same day, and thus leave Cape Town a day earlier. Even if I had just gone 200km or so, it would have allowed myself much greater leeway in my onward journey. Instead, it's going to cost me a nights accommodation and forces 2 long days of driving. But it is, at least, vaguely useful information.
As I suspect will become normal, I didn't really do very much. I watched the Southern coast of Spain glide by in the distance and occasionally wandered around a bit or had a snack or drink. I have a list of tasks I want to get done whilst on board, which remain as yet untouched; ditto my books. That evening I had a couple of beers on deck whilst watching as we passed through the Straits of Gibralter. The mass of light of the mainland oddly punctuated by the looming blackness of the Rock of Gibralter, whilst Tangiers on the opposite side looked far more inviting at night than it has done from my previous approaches by ferry, or, indeed, land. As we passed the rock, we also passed another cruise ship, lit up in multicolour like a slightly surreal christmas tree. I had already worked out that we were travelling at a pretty decent rate of knots, though there is no information as to just how fast - the rate which we overhauled it helped confirm those thoughts, and I idly wondered just how fast. By last orders at 3am, the last bit of land was just a small line of lights deep on the horizon. The next time we see mainland (though not any land) should be Namibia in 9 days time – anything else likely means we have major problems.