After my singularly uninspiring layover in Bole International Airport in Addis Ababa, we boarded a Dreamliner bound for Buenos Aires via São Paulo. Interesting how São Paulo never featured in any communication, or the ticket, until I reached the departure gate?
Being a much newer airplane the seats looked considerably better, the air conditioners worked, and the cabin was quiet. What a delight. Packed to absolute capacity with Brazilians and Argentinians, who fortunately had gotten the memo regarding hand baggage the Ethiopians had clearly missed. It was a very long and uncomfortable flight to São Paulo, where we landed in pouring rain. By the time the plane stopped it felt as if we were in a car wash – one could see nothing beyond the windows. Aircrews changed, most guests disembarked, the plane was cleaned, and new guests embarked for the short flight to Buenos Aires. Rain delayed departure considerably, and we finally landed in BA an hour late.
Met ornithologist Anton from The Crags at Plettenberg Bay also headed for Seabourn at the Holiday Inn shuttle bus position, and we took the shuttle to the hotel. Utterly exhausted, I collapsed into bed, for an early departure to the ship next morning. On a glorious, hot morning we boarded the beautiful ship in the Buenos Aires harbour, and began the process of registration, orientation and training immediately.
Seabourn belong to Carnival Corporation, who in turn own Princess, Carnival, Holland-America, P&O – a massive organisation, so procedures are extremely regimented and recorded. Staff are recorded by a number rather than by name, and expected to adhere to a very strict code of conduct.
Getting to know a whole new team of 21, the ship, the operating procedures, Zodiac operations amidst a barrage of meetings, guest introductions and lecture discussions has me feeling rather like a rabbit in the headlights. We have to wear black trousers and white Polo shirts by day, more formal trousers and shirts by evening. Some nights require a suit – Captain’s Welcome or when hosting a table. Thankfully the air conditioner works well as BA and Montevideo have been extremely hot.
I am sharing a cabin with a charming kayak guide, Brandon, from Cape Town, and consider myself extremely fortunate. Sharing cabins with strangers at this stage of Life is not without its challenges. Staff cabins are spacious, with a curtain divider in the middle of the cabin, and plenty of cupboard space. A very pleasant surprise after my initial concerns.
I am acutely mindful that readers may find some of this inane, and wonder about matters I take for granted and don’t mention? Aware too that this is a public forum.
We are now sailing for the Falklands, with a full compliment of guests (430) on this breathtaking vessel in what for me is a fantastic educational experience.