There’s no grander voyage than the Grand World Voyage. Imagine circumnavigating the globe while visiting exotic and exceptional parts of the world that boast a variety of cultures, history and scenery.
Captain Mercer has been blogging his way across the seas, and fans are getting to see lesser visited ports due to the ship’s course this year, taking a southern hemisphere route rather than sailing through the Suez Canal and on to Europe. Here is a recap of Captain Mercer’s blog posts to two beautiful islands in the Indian Ocean. You can read them in their entirety on his blog, www.captainjonathan.com.
Victoria, Seychelles, March 19-20:
It was a dull day, however, as rain had been forecast, it was a pleasant surprise to find the sun peeking through occasionally.
Having boarded the pilot, had a chat and familiarisation with him as we progressed inwards, he was quite happy to let us keep the conn and so I left it to the 2nd officer to continue the passage between the last of the reefs. Finally entering the harbour, I took the controls to dock; this involved swinging and then slipping past a large tuna-boat and using the remaining wharf…
A small band and dancers were there to greet us. And soon our guests were streaming ashore for what was remaining of the afternoon.Karen and I entertained the childhood friend of a friend of ours, who initially hails from the Seychelles. She brought her two lovely children and we had a time showing them the Amsterdam and dining with them.
It was at their invitation that we toured the island on the following day. Starting in Victoria and the inevitable market, a blaze of colourful clothing, vegetables and fish. There were egrets and herons ‘stalking’ nearby, ready to grab any tasty morsel of fish that may be discarded by the fishmonger.
We eventually reached Cap Lazare restaurant and if our friends had not known of it, we would certainly not have found it. Up and down narrow lanes, surrounded by thick shrubbery, we arrived on a beach-side area, coconut trees and tended grass, overlooking a small cove. It is normally closed on Thursday, however, the owners knew our friend and graciously opened just for us. I could have missed the market and the town and just stayed for the day, a hidden paradise.
Reluctantly, we had to head back to the ship, much to my disappointment. Back on board, we readied the Amsterdam for her voyage towards another island…
Port Louis, Mauritius, March 23:
It’s is a busy port, which I last visited during my youth; now there was a container port, an LNG berth, (Liquid Natural Gas), some general cargo berths and the harbour was full of Korean fishing boats, ‘rafted’ together by the hundreds. Our berth was between 2 such ‘rafts’ and it was a squeeze to turn and thread between them to get to our dock.
My day started with an interview with the local TV station. I am told that a 5-minute segment was later shown on the island’s local news; fame at last! The interview involved details of the Amsterdam and our Grand World voyage. They filmed the interior of this lovely ship too.
Mid-morning, Karen and I, with friends Colin and Paris, set off up the west coast in search of an hotel which will accept ‘day’ visitors and allow them to use the facilities. On the way we passed acre upon acre of sugar cane, one of the main exports of the island.
Our first two attempts were fruitless, however at the 3rd we hit pay dirt; for 1,000 rupees each, (about $35), we could use the beach, pools and restaurants, (obviously not included). The Trou Aux Biches was a 5-star facility and truly spectacular, beautiful beach, massive pools and cuisine to die for.
After 4 wonderful and relaxing hours, it was time to head back to the ship, my batteries recharged after 3 months of sailing. Before we made it back to the cruise terminal, our driver took us to an old fort, built by the French, on a hill that dominated the surrounding area. Once we had climbed the battlements, it was not difficult to see why they chose this site. Within cannon range of the (then) harbour, one had a view all around the coastal plain. Judging by the temperature on our visit, living there could not have been pleasant; it was blazingly hot and also, very humid…
Talking to guests that evening, they had thoroughly enjoyed the island, one which I hope we will visit again.
To read more about Captain Mercer’s adventures on the Grand World Voyage, visit his blog: www.captainjonathan.com.