A life on the ocean waves, a home on the rolling sea!


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!


About stevehollier

Steve Hollier is the editor of AZ Magazine, an English language lifestyle magazine based in Baku, Azerbaijan. He began his career working for a firm of stockbrokers in the City of London then went on to attend the University of Essex where he was awarded an MA in Sociology in 1984. After a career in arts and cultural development work, he became a freelance arts consultant, writer and photographer.
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