06.06.2010 - 08.06.2010
Life seemed to go surprisingly quickly onboard, though I couldn't say why. I had expected a slow pace of life and the journey to drag on, but it actually seemed to go faster than pretty much every other long sea voyage I have been on. And to be fair, it was fast. I'm used to 14-16knot average speeds. The ms Westerdam on the other hand, was whacking along at an average of almost 23knots, which is somewhat rapid for a large vessel. Add in a 20knot headwind which slowed us a bit, and it all contributed to a very brisk chilly breeze on deck for most of the last week or so.
The Equator was crossed one morning at 3am, and King Neptune made his traditional appearance the following afternoon. It was the ships first crossing, and first for the vast majority of crew and passengers. The crossing the line ceremony was performed, but was fairly tame. Only staff members (who had volunteered) were allowed to take part, and the watching German passengers were almost more bemused than anything else. Being an American owned ship, I later discovered that they are so scared of being sued that they never allow non-crew to take part, and even the crew all have to sign several waivers first. I think it quite sad that a centuries old tradition is now constrained by the threat of legal action.
Only a few days later, and we started to see one or two birds, a few dolphins and then the occasional ship. And just like that, we arrived at Luderitz in Namibia. I was looking forward to a few hours ashore and potential to maybe even catch up briefly with some acquaintances, but the cruises now near-legendary poor organisation and planning kicked in again. We were in anchorage by 6:30am, and they expected the ship to be cleared by the authorities and disembarkation to begin by 7. But this is Africa. And a very small, remote town in Africa without regular international arrivals to boot. I knew there was no way in hell that the authorities would be out to the ship so early, but it was obvious that the crew/etc hadn't realised this. They seemed surprised that nobody came out until 8:30, and the ship was not cleared before 9. But by then, time was short and all shore leave was cancelled. Almost 400 passengers disembarked – many of whom were being bused directly to Windhoek (A good 10hours or so by bus) to fly home that evening, and several of whom did not even previously realise that the ship continued to Cape Town. And were thus understandably annoyed to have missed out on visiting.
A few hours of looking at Namibia later, we laid anchor, and slowly left the anchorage for the blast down to South Africa and our last night onboard.