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Food and Travel: Life on the ocean waves!

DESPITE an on-going world-wide recession, ocean-going cruising is widely cited by sector experts as currently the fastest growing branch of the travel industry and involving massive investments.

Cruising is certainly the subject of more questions aimed at me, personally, or through SMSs and e-mails.
When, last year, I wrote about cruising from Durban, South Africa to Genoa in Italy on a three week leisurely sail through lush, verdant picture postcard Indian Ocean islands, and through the historic Suez Canal after stop-overs to see the once lost Rose Red City of Petra in the Jordan Desert and the Egyptian pyramids, then going on to tour Naples and Pompeii, I was inundated with readers’ calls asking for further and better particulars.
And that despite our ship, the MV Melody of the Mediterranean Shipping Company, being unsuccessfully attacked by ransom-seeking bloodthirsty Somali pirates off the northern tip of The Seychelles archipelago and continuing its voyage with some portholes riddled by machine-gun bullets!
Talks delivered on that particular rather eventful cruise, to various Zimbabwean luncheon and dining clubs were total sell-outs. A real, pulsating, interest was tangible.
I gathered several interested readers were seriously thinking of permanently leaving Africa for the United Kingdom and three luxuriously pampered weeks on mainly millpond calm translucent tropical seas, with the finest Italian cuisine being served up to four times a day had obvious attractions over a 10-hour cramped flight to Gatwick or Heathrow.
As a result of those Somali pirates terrorising much of the Indian Ocean with near impunity, the MSC ships, Sinfonia and Melody no longer ply the eastern route in their twice yearly re-positioning cruises from Europe to South African ports and vice-versa. But the new western routes sound temptingly, exotically different. I haven’t “done” a north-south or south-north Atlantic sailing since the Union-Castle-Safmarine mail service from Durban, via Cape Town, to Southampton was abandoned as unprofitable in August 1977.
Then, on the much lamented RMS Windsor Castle’s last voyage, we took early embarkation at Durban, cruised coastwise, having a day in port ashore at East London and Port Elizabeth; two (or was it three?) days in Cape Town. (Elvis Presley “The King” died whilst we were steaming south off the Ciskei coast).
Then 12 fun-filled days (including the hilarious line-crossing ceremony on the Equator) steaming to Las Palmas in the Canary Islands, where I disembarked and had a fortnight’s leave before flying back home. The Windsor Castle sailed then from the sub-tropical Spanish islands for Southampton, which took another three days.
MSC’s new pirate-free western route leaves Genoa on October 23 (in the case of the MV Sinfonia) calling at Villefranche near Cannes/Nice in France and Monaco’s Monte Carlo; Valencia in Spain; Casablanca and Agadir in Morocco; Dakar, the wonderfully cosmopolitan capital of Senegal in West Africa, and Walvis Bay in Namibia.
Disembarkation at Cape Town is on November 11.
The Sinfonia’s smaller sister ship, the MV Melody, which I found character-filled and filled with characters when I sailed on her in April-May 2009 leaves Genoa for the south and the sun on December 1.
Her ports-of-call on this voyage include Barcelona in Catalonia on the Spanish Mediterranean coast and Cadiz on Spain’s Atlantic seaboard; Santa Cruz de Tenerife on the Spanish Canary Islands; Mindelo on Cape Verde, a former Portuguese possession, then Walvis Bay and Cape Town, where she docks on December 18.
Her northbound journey leaves Cape Town on March 7, calling at Walvis Bay, Jamestown on stunning St Helena, a bird-watcher’s paradise; Dakar, Senegal; Arecife de Lanzarote on the Canaries; Cadiz and Barcelona. She puts into her interesting home port of Genoa (where Christopher Columbus was born) on March 25.
The Sinfonia leaves Cape Town on May 3 calling at Walvis Bay; Dakar; Santa Cruz de Tenerife; Funchal, Madeira (a wonderful spot); Malaga in Spain (it’s next to Torremolinos, of the song fame and much binge-drinking infamy); Cittavececchia, the port for Rome; she docks in Genoa on May 11.
Fulela Dreams are the experts on cruising,  especially in African and Middle Eastern waters. Long established in South Africa, they have recently taken over Mitchell, Cotts Travel in Zimbabwe, operating from 25, Lonsdale Road, Avondale. Sparkling Nancy Musanhi, a marketing executive, is the fundi on sea voyages. They work closely with Starlight Cruises of South Africa who are the regional agents for most cruise lines.
Cruising is ultra-relaxing and much cheaper than most people imagine. The bottom line is currently even more attractive with additional discounts on many cruises for landlocked Zimbabweans and Zambians.
Contact Nancy on nancym@fulelatravel.co.za or Vicqui Wilton at6 vicquiw@fulelatravel.co.za  for further details.
Part Two of this short series discussing the pros-and-cons of cruising appears in Sunday’s issue of our sister –paper, The Standard. Cruising will feature in a special supplement on Travel & Tourism also in the Standard on October 17.

dustym@zimind.co.zw

 

Dusty Miller

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