The christening and blessing of a ship is a wonderful thing and keeps us in touch with our maritime past. It conjures ancient memories of ancestors who built wooden and bamboo vessels that were then launched onto the seas in search of adventure. Records tell us that water, wine and even sacrifical blood were used to appease the gods before these early sailors dared to face Neptune and unchartered waters.
Today a bottle of champagne will be smashed on the hull of the MV Voyager when the Chaplain of Portsmouth Port, Reverend Phillip Hiscock blesses the ship with Miranda Drestovnikoff taking the role of godmother.
But before this takes place, I am having a look around the 540 passenger refurbished vessel and am very impressed with the results acheived after two months of dry dock. Jose Moura, the Portugese electrical engineer who has been serving on this ship for many years, explained that all of Deck 5 had been striped down to the bare bones and completely re-done. I have to say that the library, bursting with interesting titles, the bijou speciality dining called The Explorer Club Restaurant and the Darwin Lounge are my favourite spaces. The fitness centre on Bridge Deck 7 is spacious, too, with lovely views to enjoy while having your work out. However, for a 500+ passenger ship, I think the beauty salon should be a bit larger and certainly have more than one treatment room. The Pool Deck has loads of sun beds and, unusually, a round pool boasting two jacuzzis.
My cabin on the Promenade Deck is impressive with a fantastic comfortable bed, and built in desk and furniture. It is missing a new hair dryer (hmmm…) but I imagine that will be taken care of very soon.
A mini-lecture on Japan is offered in the Darwin Lounge with Sir James Hodge KCVO CMG giving us a quick background on his time in this fascinating country. Its dynasty of emperors is unbroken since Emperor Jimmu ascended the throne on 11 February 616 B.C. He is, proportedly, descended directly from the Sun Goddess. There are aboriginal peoples called Ainu who still live on the northern island of Hokkaido and predate the Japanese.
I hope to experience one of Voyages of Discovery enrichment itineraries very, very soon.
From tomorrow, MV Voyager will set sail on a circumnavigation of South America and the Caribbean; a remarkable five-month voyage taking in destinations such as Margarita Island in Venezuela, Puerto Cortes in Honduras, Manta in Ecuador, Callao in Peru, around Cape Horn, cruising the Amazon River in Brazil, the Cuban capital of Havana and back to Portsmouth via the Azores. Bon voyage to all onboard!
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