The Grande Mediterraneano is as big as a city block, as high as a ten-storey building and spends its life transporting cars [4,000 at a time] between the ports of Europe. We arrived at Southampton before it docked, so went to the Grimaldi Lines office to “check in”. I asked the nice lady behind a desk awash with papers how I’d recognise the ship “oh, you’ll see her alright”. She wasn’t kidding! This ship is HUGE but later on when I asked a member of the crew [Italian and Philippino] how many the ship’s compliment was he replied “twenty-eight and a half”. A half? Either a nasty accident has befallen someone or the ship comes complete its very own homunculus! [Homunculus by Hugh Paxton, excellent read, a bargain at 68p – see amazon.com for details].
Our cabin is about 3 meters by 4, contains an ensuite shower room, a pair of [large] bunk beds, built in wardrobes and chest of drawers but is lacking of a window. It is comfortable but functional.
As we stood on the top deck, watching the luxury P&O cruise ship Aurora steam past us, crowded with passengers on a trip around the Mediterranean of similar duration but costing several times what we paid, I was glad we weren’t aboard. I really like the idea that we are on a ship going somewhere for a purpose and we the passengers, are the sideshow. I’m sure that it means we have somehow permed our carbon footprint into something acceptable. I’ve a belief that “supercargo” [us], is a bit like the bit of food you pinch from your partner’s plate when you are on a diet. It doesn’t really count.
Although there are eleven cabins for passengers, there are only four aboard. The two of us, a retired Swiss chemist plus a chain-smoking ex-RAF technician. There is no band, are no dancing girls, no entertainment officer but I’m writing this sitting in the very comfortable lounge come dining room, where I expect we will have all of our meals. We will be calling in on several [hopefully] seedy ports on our way to Limassol including Palermo, Izmir and Alexandria, which we know somewhat. I look forward to writing something appropriate at each landfall.
We briefly met the captain, a humorous chap about our age [don’t know his name yet] who told us the “people seem to think I am the Captain”. Well, as they say, “let’s run that idea up the flag pole and see who salutes it”…
We leave Southampton at midnight. Let’s hope for calm seas and a peaceful crossing. Avast, ya’ land lubbers!