Compared with today’s giant cruise liners the RMS St Helena is a small ship. There are no theatres, no casinos, no golf ranges. The emphasis is on relaxation and time out from it all. Life on board is far from frenetic. You can bask in an atmosphere of sun, sea and relaxed, friendly efficiency. Nothing is too much trouble for the officers and staff who believe that one of their responsibilities is to ensure you have the best possible voyage and experience.
There are all the traditional ocean-going pastimes of beef tea, the sun deck and swimming pool, traditional deck games, films, discos, bingo, race nights, quizzes and many other ideas from the creative minds of the Pursers and their staff. Sometimes there is even cricket!
There is plenty of time to do just what you wish. Lounge on the sun deck by the swimming pool with a cool drink and a book (the ship has a well-stocked library of books, videos and audio tapes). For those interested, there are also visits to the Bridge, organised by the bureau.
Perhaps, most significant of all, the chance and time to meet new people, converse and make life-long friends.
Of course, the Ship also has the compulsory visit of King Neptune to collect his dues whenever she crosses the equatorial line but, to make up for that there is the Captain’s cocktail party, one of the delights of shipboard life.
The galley is one of the Ship’s greatest assets and would grace many of the world’s best restaurants. The chef and his galley staff pride themselves on the quality of the meals they serve. One of the highlights of the ship’s day is the six-course dinner served in the attractively appointed dining saloon.
Both breakfast and lunch may be taken in the dining saloon or, for the more abstemious, continental breakfast and a buffet lunch are served in the sun lounge.
Any type of special diet can be provided for with pleasure: you simply need to make your requirements known in ample time before the Ship sails to ensure that arrangements may be made to have the ingredients available. Remember to let us know on your booking form if you suffer from any allergies.
Beef tea is served every day in the sun lounge and the sun lounge is open at lunchtime and in the evening. Afternoon tea, with cakes and sandwiches, is served in the main lounge and sun lounge in the afternoon and the main lounge bar is also open in the evening.
RMS St Helena has all the facilities of a first class hotel. The Purser’s office provides limited banking facilities. It also acts as a post office and information point as well as publishing the Ship’s daily newspaper.
There is a shop selling both souvenirs and essentials for the voyage. There is a highly efficient laundry service to do all your washing and ironing but, should you wish to use it, there is also a personal launderette fully equipped with washing, drying and ironing facilities.
A limited steward service is available but should you wish to make a cup of tea or coffee in the middle of the night, you are welcome to make use of the facilities in the steward’s pantry.
The Ship has two very comfortable lounges, each has a bar with waiting staff to attend to passengers’ needs
Each Sunday while at sea, divine service is held in the main lounge. Holy Communion, Mass and other religious services are also held if the relevant priests or ministers are aboard.
As we head Northwest toward St. Helena in calm seas and making good speed, we take time to reflect on the past 96 hectic hours in Cape Town.
Since arriving at E berth on Saturday afternoon, the Engineering team and Shore Contractors have worked almost non-stop to get the newly rebuilt starboard engine up and running by Sunday evening. At the same time we loaded general cargo and some 51 containers for the Island, and the Hotel department continued with the loading of stores and preparation of the passenger cabins.
On Monday the ship proceeded to sea trials on both engines, at 0900 hrs local time. This was another busy day for the engine room boys, with the testing and commissioning of the new equipment, and the testing of both stabilisers. We returned to the port at 1700 hrs local, only to be advised that the Pilot would not be available until 1930, so a long day became even longer by the time the ship was all secured back at E berth.
Sailing day is always busy onboard and Tuesday was no exception. Final stores had to be loaded, baggage brought onboard, Safety Muster to take place, sludge to be discharged, GPO and diplomatic mail loaded, Lloyd’s Surveyor in attendance, certificates handed over, Hotel staff completing the passenger accommodation, the balance of the cargo to be loaded; and of course the final adjustments made in the engine room after the trials. So it was with some relief that, loaded with 71 containers, 815 tonnes of cargo, 117 passengers and 55 crew, we cast off our last line at 1756 hrs local time, and headed out of Cape Town harbour with three long blasts of the ship’s whistle, and Dave Mitchell singing ‘My St. Helena Island’ throughout the ship on the PA system.
After a calm night at sea, with passengers and crew well rested, we are now back into our wonderful life on the ocean waves.
This is your holiday, so relax. While swimwear is not allowed in the dining saloon or other public rooms, dress during the day is very informal as it is during the evening. As a guide to what to wear at dinner, the Ship’s newspaper publishes the recommended ‘rig of the day’ for Ship’s officers, and passengers may choose, if they wish, to follow suit.