The last voyage of the RMS St. Helena
Though this isn’t really the last voyage of the RMS St. Helena (after this: RMS) as there will be one more boat going from Cape Town to St. Helena, we do call it the last voyage as this is a special one going via Tristan da Cunha. So the RMS is a Royal Mail Ship of the UK and built especially for St. Helena. As St. Helena has a working airport now, there is no more need of this ship.Mixed feelings for the Saints (as people at St. Helena call themselves). They will definitely miss the boat. It’s part of St. Helena and the people, they say. But they do also see the possibilities of the airport. It’s easier to visit family and friends, and another economy can be expanded, being tourism. The RMS is only built in 1930 in Dundee, Scotland. But according to some she needs her retirement. Though no-one really knows what will happen with the boat, there is someone onboard who is on board checking the boat for a potential buyer. Maybe we’ll see the boat back in the Caribbean.
So what is life like on the RMS?
Well, it’s rather the same like on any cruise I guess. I have to tell you that it’s just not for me. Every day is the same. At 7 in the morning we get a morning coffee in our room (this one was so bad (British boat hey) that we skipped it for the next days) and the Ocean Mail. On the Ocean Mail we find what is up for the day. I got so bored that I seriously woke up every day early in the morning, eager to read the Ocean Mail. The only things I’m really interested in is which documentary is on at 9.15 (after breakfast which is from 8.00 to 9.15) and what talk we will have at 4.15h. So after reading that I’m taking a shower, go to the Sun Lounge, which is one level above us. I’ll get my breakfast there and eat it at the Sun Deck. Yuri and I are always outside, but we are just one of the few. Many people are staying inside, the whole day every day. Even if I wanted to I couldn’t. I need the sea breeze to rearrange my balance after a night in the cabin.
After breakfast we watch a documentary, which differs per day. One day it’s about Tristan, the other day about the Galapagos, St. Helena or climate change. The documentaries are always a bit outdated. The documentary about St. Helena was made 10 years ago when there was no airport and life was very different from now. After the documentary I read a book at the sundeck or enjoy a talk with some of the other people onboard. At 12 we here the song and know lunch is ready. Lunch always differs from chicken curry to pizza to bobboti and whatever. There is also always the choice of bread with ham or salami or cheese. And then again it’s a long wait until the talk at 4.15h. Often I continue reading my book, sometimes I sleep a bit and sometimes talk to some of the people I enjoy talking to.
At 4.15h we always have a talk from someone interesting or someone who thinks he/she is interesting. We had a very nice talk of Joe, who is a vet and have lived at the Falklands, St. Helena and Tristan da Cunha. He was also in a Dutch tv program: Floortje naar het einde van de wereld. We also had a very interesting talk of Martin, a marine biologist, who worked at South Georgia and made amazing photos. So that’s most of the time quite interesting. Afterwards it is waiting until 6 o’clock when half of the boat goes to the main lounge for a nice British team quiz.
After the team quiz it is time for the first diner shift. The first one is at 6.45h, that’s the one we take because we enjoy seeing the sunset. The second diner shift is at 8.00h. We are al seated according to a table number. We were very lucky to be seated next to Brian and Brenda who live on St. Helena. They tell us a lot about the island and we got a bit an inside on how it is to live there. Table no. 16 is where the captain dines, he is in the second shift, but according to some whispers, everyone is dying to be at his table. That also means that you have to dress up every evening. Well, we like to arrive in our relaxing pants. Though we have to wear shoes: flip-flops are not allowed.
After diner we enjoy watching the sun go down in the sea at the sun deck and seeing the world getting dark. Most nights it’s quite cloudy but we had the luck to see the milky way and many many stars as well. And well that’s life on the RMS for us. Every day the same. We do sometimes go to the gym or take a swim in the mini swimming pool. We also went up to the Bridge where the captain does his magic, which was quite nice. Other than that, every day is rather the same and I can’t imagine being any longer on this ship (or any other cruise ship for that matter) than I really have to.
It is a pity that the boat is taking out of service because it is quite a nice cruise ship. You get in contact with the crew easily because it’s all not so big. There is place for about 175 passengers, beside the crew. That’s not a lot and actually quite nice. The room is cleaned every day, and we get a five course meal in the evening every single day (which is absolutely fabulous). The drinks are really cheap: 1,50 pounds for a pint! We didn’t drink a lot though, the moving of the boat doesn’t make me thirsty that much. The RMS is not a big ship which means that the waves do have an influence in the rolling of the boat and when the stabilisers are off, it is absolutely horrible to stay aboard. The boat rolls from side to side giving me the feeling that all my blood rolls from my head to my toes every other wave. But, I guess that if you have the choice of taking a cruise this is a nice one. Small enough to be cute, big enough to feel like a real cruise.