Wednesday, 15 May 2019

Turnaround Port.

My home away from home.

We were now finally arrived in Singapore, after an amazing cruise crossing the Indian ocean, and this port would be one of the regular Turnaround ports (or Embarkation ports), for the next few months, alternating with Hong Kong. Depending which side of the Singapore Strait we would operate in.
Because one of the cruises will take us on the north-western side along Malaysia, Thailand (Indian Ocean side), Andaman & Nicobar Islands, to Burma (Myanmar), and back again to Singapore. A 2 week cruise.

The other cruise, on the south and eastern side of Thailand would take us in to the Gulf of Thailand, with several stops in various Thai ports/islands, to Cambodia, Vietnam with overnight in Saigon (or Ho Chi Minh City) to Da Nang and Hue, and an overnight in spectacular Halong Bay (sometimes in Haiphong). And then a sea-day before we end up in Hong Kong with an overnight as well. This particular cruise was without the doubt the favourite cruise among all the crew members. It had sea-days, beaches, big cities, small cities, scenic cruising, and several overnights. It is still my all time favourite cruise.

Some of the Deck hands organizing stuff on the mooring decks.

But first, we would have a stressful turnaround day in Singapore. And if we wanted to go into the city for a few hours, we could of course, but that also meant that we would sacrifice rest (sleep), since this day normally starts very early in the morning, like most turnaround days do. This day is extremely busy for all 3 main departments onboard, which are the Hotel department (the by far biggest), Deck Department, and Engine (technical) department. We all had a stressful day in turnaround ports, but Hotel department normally had it more busy, since they had to prepare the ship for the next passengers (pax).

Not only should the ship be prepared for new passengers, but we also would receive a lot of new technical spare parts, food and beverages, a huge amount of regular stuff for daily use as toilet papers, soap, washing materials in general, pencils, pens, light bulbs, navigational charts, paint, mooring lines, you name it. More or less whatever you might need in the society, we would had to carry with us, and get shipped to various ports for replenishment. To list it all would be 100 pages long.
Of course, all the stuff that we would receive, could not just be shipped to ports here and there, as that would be a very expensive way to do the logistics. So most of it came with container ships from the various continents to one of our Turnaround Ports, depending of what we had ordered via the Company's purchasing department ashore.

Receiving a new Satellite antenna.

So needless to say, but this day also included a lot of carrying, storing/organizing, loging (register) the stuff we received. And at the same time, these ports were also when we normally would receive several service technicians for the various equipment onboard. Anything from radars on the bridge, to technical stuff in the Engine control room, to washing machines in the laundry, or dishwashers in the galleys. Or maybe the Stage manager had issues with his light and sound booth during the shows with the ship's entertainers. This port would also normally be the port where we crewmembers would receive whatever stuff our families had sent to us.

Other visitors would be the ships agents (local hired liaison people), Immigrations officers to clear the ship, Customs to seal whatever should be sealed in the various tobacco, spirits, or other bonded stores. Health authorities to check the ship had the correct papers, and no issues, Harbour authorities for sometimes doing general inspections of the ship and crew. And sometimes official inspections with IMO (International Maritime Organization) inspectors, to see we were safe and sound to be able to sail from A to B.

A perfect time for some extra maintenance work as well.

In other words, these turnaround ports could be a nightmare, or at least a day that easily could last 18-20 hours (not actually allowed to work that much). And sometimes you just have to go the extra mile for yourself and your colleagues (and company), otherwise it will NOT be done in time, and that will just postpone a problem to next time and just add to what else we would expect in that port. But you kind of get used to this. It is all worth it in the end.

Let’s get the Pax-Drill over with so we can start the cruises in South East Asia.

That is me, in the middle, in case you wondered.

Next.....Amazing South East Asia

Monday, 6 May 2019

To South-East Asia

Happy as can be.

 In the last part I talked about we leaving the Mediterranean, and sailed in convoy through the Suez Canal, into the Red Sea, with a stop in Safaga, and later on Djibouti which was a shocker to experience. Then we sailed through the Gulf of Aden, which a few years later would be an infamous place to pass through due to all the Piracy activity. Or, to skip the ridiculously romanticised word and call them for what they are - armed robbers.

The Indian Ocean was ahead of us, and we passed Somalia and ended up in Mombasa in Kenya as a turnaround port, or Embarkation day, where we changed Pax again. Although several of the pax are often "in transit", which means they stay onboard for one more cruise at least. With our next stop in the famous port of Zanzibar, know for a bloody history as a safe haven for Pirates and Slave traders, which belongs to Tanzania now. Walking around a few hours here really made feel far away from home.

Ganway duty together with one of the Deck hands.

When we left Zanzibar, we headed south towards the big island of Madagascar on the East coast of Africa. This is where I for the first time in my life experience high humidity. I remember how I could hardly believe the air could be this humid and we were sweating all the time, changing uniform shirts several time per day. After a day's stay we sailed towards the island groups of Seychelles and The Maldives. And these island groups are far from each other in the Indian ocean, which gave us a couple of "sea days" between each stop. 

And we stayed 2 days at each place, which gave us Crew members plenty time to also be a little bit tourists and to experience these exotic island paradises, which they really are.
Absolutely gorgeous places.

Some of the Deck hands.

Then we continued this long cruise, which would later on end in Singapore, towards Colombo in Sri Lanka.
A place we also had a so called "overnight" which meant we stayed 2 days, and most of us were able to again be little bit tourists and go ashore to buy souvenirs, and maybe send off postcards.
Remember, this is before selfies and posting pictures instantly online. 
And once again I had a new experience, which again reminded me I am not in safe Norway anymore. Because shortly after we had left the city, a suicide bomber attacked the banking area of the city. And this area was only a few blocks away from where we had had lunch a few hours earlier. it kind of gives you a wake up call. need of some sun on my legs.

Next morning off we went, and next port of calls would be Pinang (Penang island), Malaysia, before we transited through the later infamous Strait of Malacca, which also is a area of concern with Piracy activity.
Then we sailed through the Singapore strait, before finally ending up in what would be a regular turnaround (Embarkation) port the next couple of months, Singapore.

Absolutely incredible what I already had been able to see and experience, only for the last 6 weeks. It already kind of felt I had been away for half a year, because my head was filled with impressions I hardly had been able to process yet. And just the fact that I had ended up on a cruise ship which was about to reposition to another region was an amazing luck, since we would not repeat the places we passed for a long time.

Who is this guy?

Next.....Turnaround port.

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