started in early November when I started
following the MS Sinfonia to South African
shores. All the decks are named after famous
composers. While moderating I had time to listen
to their music and spent some time getting to
know the works of Jean Sibelius, as we had a
cabin with a balcony on the Sibelius Deck, Deck
10, Cabin 1100. Being able to retreat, day and
night to the balcony enabled me to be one with
sea, space and silence.
morning, 21 November a bus was waiting for us at
Durban International airport to shuttle us to
Durban Harbour. Long queues, excited travellers
and many hours standing in wind and rain, gave
us time to meet people we would share many
special moments with on the cruise. 500
Rotarians including representatives from
different countries and provinces were attending
a conference on the Sinfonia. We were privileged
to share many laughs and fun times with them.
We set sail for
the Portuguese Islands on one of the coldest,
windiest days of the year, and this excited me.
I was hoping that we would experience all
weather conditions, and we did. We left Durban
grey skies, rough seas, strong winds and people
standing at an angle.
While the sail
away party was in full swing, we moved to the
top deck and experienced our first magical
moment – a whale thrust its tail out of the
water waving us on our way and dolphins were
spotted playing in the surf. It was a brief
sighting but made a huge impact and influenced
what I wanted to experience on the cruise. It is
wonderful to see creatures having the freedom to
enjoy their natural environment.
Fire drills. Then
decisions and booking deadlines! We had to book
excursions and didn’t know what to choose. The
weather was bad so snorkelling and scuba diving
were not an option. The folk who did go
snorkelling could not see anything due to murky
water. We decided to book the fast pass to
Inhaca Island. This meant that we would be on
the first Zodiac leaving the Sinfonia at 08:15 on
Saturday morning. After watching the sunset
from the comfort of our private balcony, we
joined the “party people” for cocktails and
danced the night away.
Sunrise was at
04:50, with pastel colours reflecting on a
metallic grey sea. We had breakfast at a table
sloping at a 10-degree angle. It was a strange
feeling walking up the dining hall to get coffee
and down to get back to our table. We all
grouped in the Sinfonia Lounge on Deck 7, ready
for a day of adventure. I was excited to be able
to experience activities I had never done before.
The day was overcast and cool, with large
swells. At 10:00 it was safe enough to start the
Life jackets on, we headed for the Portuguese
Islands. What an exhilarating ride. We were
airborne most of the time, coming down every now
and again to hit the crest of the next swell.
The sea, sky, clouds, mist
and rain were all different shades of grey.
Perfect weather to explore life on the islands.
was magnificent. It is uninhabited with endless
white beaches and warm sub-tropical waters. We
enjoyed the unspoilt wide-open spaces and
A small, shallow
shuttle took us to Inhaca Island. At times I was
not sure I was going to manage to hold on tight
enough to stay onboard as we were hitting the
swells at strange angles.
Inhaca Island has
some of the best coral reefs in the Mozambique
Channel. It was low tide and we were dropped
about 200m from shore. Pelicans were swimming in
the bay unconcerned by our presence. The sea was
calm and we were able to take many photos and
videos of the island before reaching the beach.
We did not want
to go to any tourist attractions. Dino, a Grade
10 student, offered to be our tour guide. We
wanted to go to places Dino went to on a daily
First we went to
the well. It is the only source of clean water
in the village. We then followed a sand road to
the local hospital. The hospital only has
medics. If someone needs a doctor they go to
Maputo for treatment.
Dino pointed out
the sweat potatoes and cabbages that grow all
over the island. Dino was very proud of his
command of the English language. His dream is to
become a journalist. He wanted to introduce us
to his English teacher Mr John Mushava. Along
the way we visited the library and youth centre.
They have a computer and printer in the library.
The librarian helps people send emails and do
research. There is one computer in the village
that students can use. We walked many miles up
and down sand dunes, past goats tied to bushes
before we reached Dino’s school. It was a great
privilege meeting Mr Mushava.
It started to
rain so Dino arranged for us to get a lift back
to the beach in a trailer attached to a quad
bike. The teenagers took us on a joy ride up and
down the dunes to get us back to the beach. Dino
told us that because it was raining the seas
would be calm and we would have a good trip back
to Portuguese Island.
The Zodiac left
the Portuguese Island and headed back to the
Sinfonia. They were concerned that because of
the large swells we would have difficulty
getting on board ship safely. It is a great
feeling of anticipation waiting for the swells
to rise in line with the landing and then
leaping off the edge of the Zodiac to safety,
then watching the zodiac disappear before rising
again for the next leap.
Back to our
balcony to watch the sun disappear into the
darkness of the night sky. Not a cloud in
sight. An inspiring end to a perfect day.
Sunrise on Sunday
was shades of pink and yellow. Such a contract
to the shades of grey we had on Saturday. Our
world was technicolour once again. From the
balcony, we saw thousands of huge jellyfish
floating in the turquoise sea below. The
Sinfonia started up the engines and we turned
towards the Mozambican coastline. The sun was
extremely hot and seemed to bring the ocean to
life. We spotted sea turtles, hammerhead sharks,
flying fish and dolphins as we followed the
coastline home. The white beaches, green shrubs
and bright blue sea were in sharp contrast to
the landscapes we had seen the day before.
gravitated towards the pool deck to celebrate
the return of the sun. The Dream Team kept
everyone entertained until lunchtime. We found
the disembarkation briefing very interesting.
The disembarkation procedures and luggage labels
were discussed. All cabins on Deck 10 had light
blue luggage labels. Our luggage had to be
labelled and placed in the passage ready for
collection before 02:00 on Monday morning.
On Sunday night
the atmosphere was electric, each music lounge
had its own unique vibe. For the energetic, a
popular band called Good Vibrations, had
everyone rocking into the early hours of the
morning. Henk performed all the much loved South
African hits that also kept everyone singing
On Monday morning
while having breakfast we were able to identify
many popular landmarks on the South African
coastline. The huge arch of the Moses Mabhida
Stadium is a beautiful addition to the Durban
with many new experiences, awesome photos and
videos, new friends, little sleep and two
suitcases with light blue labels. "