On the Royal Mail Ship St Helena

In News & Travels by Fran Bryson

I haven’t yet written much about the ship journey to St Helena Island, (which strikes me as odd because it was an amazing experience).. Here are some snapshots:

When one is going to visit the Island, the island experience begins when one’s taxi pulls up at the passenger terminal in Cape Town: A man takes my bags with what I hope is a reassuring smile. He has a complexion I now know is the sign of a Saint (as the locals call themselves and are called). Only somewhat nervous (who am I kidding?), I don’t see the bags again until a few minutes before the crew throw the ropes on deck and the ship glides away from the wharf. The bags are delivered to my shared four-berth cabin by our rather handsome cabin attendant. It’s the same cabin attendant who delivers a steaming tea cup to my bunk side-table at 7am each morning, while I still snuggle under the doona (Peter, please take note.)

Three of the five nights that we are at sea there’s a team trivia comp. There are four teams with member-numbers ranging from 4 to 8. It’s only a little competitive (ha!). Our 6 member team wins by a couple of points (after leading by just a fraction each night) and at the BBQ on our last night at sea we’re each awarded grey baseball caps with ‘RMS ST Helena’ embroidered on them (and, be assured, I fully intend to be awarded another cap on the way back too).

The Sun Deck is aft and there’s a small blue swimming pool in which water sloshes with the rolling gait of the ship. The pool is a little cold for anyone but the half-dozen kids aboard. The Sun Deck is a nice spot for some sun and catching up on my journal notes. A Catholic Bishop – he is responsible for the largest diocese in the in the world: the South Atlantic – catches up too. When he is on deck, I can’t decide if he’s reading, praying or snoozing (sorry Bishop, hope the return journey was great).

More snapshots of the ship soon.