Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Made it to Hong Kong

And so this brave girl made it!  My final destination on this grand voyage is Hong Kong, and the ship arrived at approx. 07:30 this  morning (30JUL).

What a voyage! I feel like I have an extended fact I felt quite tearful saying goodbye...after all, one month on board and a strong bond was formed.   Chief Officer really took me under his wing...we explored Singapore together, he became like an Uncle to me.  Oh, and he was very happy that I told him his English was good (he's Polish).  I was just being honest Chief.

And now for a nine day adventure in Hong Kong.  It feels a little overwhelming at the moment...going from peace and quiet to rush rush, lots of people and so much noise!

Keep you all posted.  Meanwhile, enjoy some pics taken on arrival by ship this morning:

From the Star Ferry

Gorgeous sunset the night before arrival
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Wednesday, 24 July 2013

Through Suez to Singapore

Yes, I made it!  15 days straight at sea with no access to the outside world: just seeing sunrise, sunset and dolphins playing.  Did you know, if you clap your hands the dolphins in the wild will show off and perform for you?  I am not kidding.

So going through Suez was interesting: hot, the Pilot on the bridge had his classical music blaring out and it was, altogether, a little surreal.

And our Security team that joined from Suez all were with us through the pirate area of Somalia and the Yemen were Britain's finest (and South African) - pure my pre-conceived notions they'd be gung ho were unfounded.

Suez Mosque

I've lost badly in the Table Tennis tournament, and had fun in the BBQ.

Table tennis tournament - in which I lost

Everyone enjoying themselves at the BBQ

Anyway, this is just a quick one to let you know I'm OK and about to go ashore with my adopted uncle, the Chief Mate. 

Speak to you all in HKG  in another week's time!

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Tuesday, 9 July 2013

Where do we live on a container ship?

**Note: Due to limited internet where I'm currently located (Suez Canal), I am using a Dongle and it takes an age to upload photos, plus it's not my Dongle/Modem, it's Cook's and I don't want to use all his credit.  So for photos, I have put links to past posts...will update with more photos when better internet access.  Hope you all understand***

I’ve realized that, whilst I’ve been posting about Valencia, Genoa and nice places visited, I haven’t made it very clear where we actually live, nor the name of my ship.  Well, I included a video with my first emotions post about my cabin and what it’s like and also the Galley (kitchen) and Messroom (dining room). But where are these places located?
               My ship is called the Hanjin Boston and was booked through The Cruise People in London (they also have offices in Toronto).  Googling "agents for container ship voyages" should also bring up agents in your local area.
Unlike a long distance ferry or cruise ship  – where the accommodation is located across the whole length of the ship on many different levels,  on a container ship you’ll find the living quarters – or ship’s accommodation – is just in one segment, rising like a block of flats on about eight levels.  See my What's in the Containers... post for a ship picture - the white place near the rear (aft/stern) is where we live.

It’s still spacious, but has to be this way as obviously the containers have to fit on board, so these go on the bow (front) and stern (back) of the vessel.

Does this make me feel claustrophobic?  Well no, as you’ve seen from my what to do on a container ship post, there’s plenty to do and in fact, it’s possible to walk to the bow of the ship and sit quietly in the Castle to read.
So don’t be put off and think that you’ll be boxed in…there’s nothing like being at sea with a bunch of good, honest, hardworking seafarers with hearty seafaring food to eat and people who view you as their big sister and do anything they can for you.

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Sunday, 7 July 2013

"What's in the containers, Captain?"

I’m sure you’re all dying to know what a ship of this size carries from/to Asia. 

So was I, hence my question posed to the Captain one evening at dinner.

Saturday, 6 July 2013


I wrote a post about the downside of container ship travel and mentioned that you’re not necessarily guaranteed a long time in port, indeed…even if it’s possible to go ashore.  This was the situation I found myself in Barcelona.
But it was made up for in Valencia. 
We arrived around 08:00 on 02JUL13 and after the agent had been on board, spoken to the Captain and I had ‘clearance’ to go ashore (ie: checked my passport but as I’m British and am travelling within Europe, I don’t need a visa), I caught the bus from the ship to the main gate where the agent had called a taxi to take me into town.
And lo and behold, I met two other passengers: George a Frenchman and Annabel, an English lady living in France who had arrived on another container ship!  So you see, other people do travel by this mode of transport.  Admittedly they were somewhat older than I.  Whilst waiting for our taxis we swapped stories:  they’d joined their ship in Malta and were just having two weeks aboard around the Med.  Annabel asked me:
“How will you cope with 37 days?!” 
In all honesty, I don’t know.  I just know that so far, when at sea I take each day as it comes…there’s no point in stressing – just read, swim, write & sleep…play table tennis, eat and chat to the crew.  Maybe by Day 36 I’ll be glad the trip’s coming to an end, but let’s see.

Thursday, 4 July 2013

A downside of travelling by container ship

So far I’ve enjoyed it.  30th June 2013 marked my first week on board and when at sea I’ve: swam in the pool, endured Barry Manilow love songs in karaoke and hung out with the Philippeno crew, watched many sunsets from the Bridge, always get excited to see a Pilot board and exit the ship – James Bond style – and have just started to play table tennis…I’m getting quite good.  Now we have a new Captain and Chief Engineer, they’re both very talkative and lunch & dinner times are interesting.  My last post talked about how the Captain is very internationally minded and believes in keeping the crew happy – “A happy crew means a happier place to work and live, and the job gets done better.”

 **I wish more employers thought like him**

                But there is a downside, as I’ve discovered in Barcelona:  My Genoa post talks about how lucky I was in Italy as the container terminal was, at maximum, a 45 minute walk from the town, both in Genoa & La Spezia.                       

Wednesday, 3 July 2013

A new Captain & Chief Engineer

“The new Captain’s lovely!”  This was the mantra that was running around the ship like Chinese whispers for the last two days or so.  A new Captain joined us in Genoa and I had been hearing so much about him from the crew and senior officers beforehand that I wondered if this poor man would be able to live up to the expectations the crew had put on him…he was already on a huge pedestal.   How do they know he’s lovely?  He hasn’t even joined the ship yet.  It turns out crew have a rotation, and he’d been on this ship previously.

                I’ve already established that the crew are lovely.  The Cook, especially, has taken to preparing me little surprises like Ginger tea when he heard me sniffling a lot.  Thinking I was going to come down with a cold, he prepared a pot for me.  I didn’t have the heart to tell him that it was just me adjusting to the A/C on board and not a cold. He also makes me extra creamy oatmeal/porridge in the mornings.

Tuesday, 2 July 2013


We arrived & berthed (pulled alongside the dock) in Genoa on 28th June at about 14:30.  “Wait for me” says the agent, “I’ll show you how to get into town.” 

                Usually container terminals are located quite far from the city of arrival, but so far I’ve been lucky: in La Spezia (Italy) it was a 40 minute walk into town.  Genoa is roughly the same: located across the harbour from the cruise terminal, it took me about 45 mins to walk around the harbour to the marina.  “I would give you a lift on my bike, but I ‘ave no spare ‘elmet” says the friendly agent.  Oh well, at least he helped me off the ship and showed me where to go.  They all seem to relish the opportunity to be gentlemanly, but this is Italy, after all.

                After a meal of salmon pasta, in which I think I disgusted the waiter -“You want parmesano cheese with fish?” he shrugged- I walked further, intending to visit the big aquarium.  Yet as it was a beautiful day, why not be a tourist?  And so I took a little red tourist train, 45 minutes around the city. The birthplace of Christopher Colombus is truly beautiful. 

                And so after stocking up on chocolate bars from the supermarket, I made my way back to the ship…I wanted to get there before it got dark: I wouldn’t suggest a lone woman walks around a cargo terminal after dark, no matter how near the city.  But I needn’t have worried:                “Maam!” exclaimed the crew member on Security watch (I feel like I’m being addressed by my pupils) “the other crew are on shore, checking their emails and are looking out for you.”   Most container ports have a seafarer’s area where crew go to check emails, SKYPE back home, have a drink, etc.  It seems I have guardians without knowing it.  And I’m also allowed to use these “Seafarer’s Clubs.”

                We finally left Genoa later than anticipated on 29th June.  You’ll have gathered by now my awe at seeing the pilotsboard and exit the ship. and I hope you’ll also share in my awe here. 

Onwards to Barcelona now!