But soon after writing here about an upcoming voyage to be undertaken on the Brilliance of the Seas, cruising from Dubai around the United Arab Emirates and Persian Gulf, and quoting the dimensions of her big sister ship, Oasis of the Seas (largest passenger ship in the world) I –– coincidentally –– sailed on Zimbabwe’s largest craft, Zambezi Trader days later, while on assignment at Kariba Invitation Tiger Fish Tournament.
While comparisons are often said to be odious, I just couldn’t help comparing these two marine extremes.
Royal Caribbean International’s Oasis of the Seas (and, from December, twin-sister ship Allure of the Seas) are of 225 282 gross tonnes with a displacement of 100 000 tonnes.
Zambezi Trader weighs in at all of 200 tonnes!
Oasis and Allure each accommodate a maximum of 6 296 guests on 16 passenger decks, almost anywhere in the world.
Zambezi Trader can handle 50 overnight passengers on up to three-day 500km round trip cruises on Lake Kariba or 150 tourists on day trips; she has three decks.
Oasis and Allure are 360 metres long (well over 1 000ft). Zambezi Trader measures 150ft!
The ocean-going craft boast eight Wartsila VIR diesel engines, each generating 17 500 horse power. The Zambezi Trader has 2 x 200hp Cummins Marine diesels.
But having made those allegedly odious comparisons, I hazard a guess that a jolly down the stunning man-made Lake Kariba now in its 50th splendid year, in good company, well lubricated and fed, watching teeming game, magical bird life and breathtaking blood-red sunsets and sunrises would be a memorable voyage: possibly the holiday of a lifetime. And a most affordable one, forgetting about passports, visas and Yellow Fever jabs!
Owned by Peter Drummond, of Drummond Chickens, the eagerly awaited ship seemed to have been under construction for years and was launched around six weeks ago.
Now the Southern Belle (a faux Mississippi paddle steamer) has –– rightly or wrongly –– been sold to Protea Hotels of Zambia for use as a floating hotel after refurb in Siyavonga Harbour, Zambezi Trader is easily the biggest and definitely the most luxuriously appointed craft in Zimbabwean waters.
She is of 200 tonnes, 50 metres long, three decks high, the ship, driven by 2 x 200hp Cummins Diesel Marine Engines, cruises at 10km – 14km per hour, cutting through Kariba’s very occasional rough waters smoothly due to her twin-hull design.
Safety is well catered for, with six separate watertight bulk-heads in the hulls, high capacity quick-start diesel bilge pumps, six life rafts, 150 life jackets and four Yamaha-powered tender/life boats.
The wheel house has GPS, radar and depth-meter units, ship-to-shore radio, together with on-board fore and aft cameras for safe cruising and mooring. Two, 60 KVA Kohler generators take care of all other power requirements. Two aluminium tender boats are pontoons with shade and carry 15 passengers each; the other two mono-hull aluminium boats carry 10 passengers each. These tender boats are used for activities such as fishing, game viewing and sun-downers.
The Zambezi Trader can sleep up to 50 passengers in 24 cabins or can cruise with 150 guests on day trips.
She is ideal for wedding celebrations and conferences or gathering of friends and family for a fabulous holiday cruise.
Flexible packages, including transfers, day cruises, joint ventures and corporate excursions including activities such as tiger and bream fishing, game viewing along the lake shore, sun-downer cruises or guided walks in the Matusadona Game Park on request.
For extra large groups, joint ventures are put together with hotels and lodges. There’s an on-board pool deck, conference room, lounge with dance floor and bar and an open/shaded entertainment cocktail deck.
South African and international clients flying direct to Victoria Falls or Livingstone, Zambia, are transferred by luxury coach 160km to Masuna Island Lodges at the top end of Lake Kariba with an option of doing a 500km round trip cruise.
Month-end cruises began in September. Couples, individuals and small groups enjoy three day’s sailing, departing from Kariba on the last Thursday and returning on Sunday. Cruising is via Spurwing in to the Ume area, where guests can choose to stay on board or be transferred to Spurwing, Bumi Hills, Musango, Tashinga National Park, Rhino Camp or Tiger Bay.
This Ume cruise is affordable for most folk; you can take a transfer for US$60 return and stay in Tashinga National Parks for $10/$15 per night (self-catering) and have a wonderful wilderness three-day experience for US$90
Or you can stay on board and enjoy an all-inclusive special package at US$345. Or you could transfer for US$60 to one of many world-class lodges which range from US$80 -US$200 per person per day, offering a variety of activities and luxury.
Quinten de Lange, a widely experienced safari expert from South Africa, is manager of Zambezi Trader, whose Harare offices are at 105B King George Rd, Avondale
Ph: 33 9643; Pete 0912 601875, Quinten: 0913 021203, e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org