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Food & Travel: Sailing Into a Northern Hemisphere Summer

I HAVE heard some daft things in my life, but involuntarily eavesdropping a Welsh-accented woman in the Durban harbour queue to embark on the MSC Melody whining that she “couldn’t stand the heat” probably takes the biscuit.

Why on earth does someone who doesn’t enjoy the sunshine and warmth book a packaged deal flight from the UK, to catch a cruise ship sailing for three weeks across both tropics and the Equator: proceeding at a stately unhurried 17 knots (about 30 kph) up the Indian Ocean, then via the sweltering Red Sea, through the Suez Canal and across the Mediterranean, albeit in late spring/early summer, to the gritty Italian port of Genoa?

Did she not know we were calling at the Indian Ocean tropical island paradises of Reunion, Mauritius and Seychelles?

That despite the growing threat of Somali pirates and a consequent 650km detour to avoid confronting them, one of two original Egyptian ports of call (with excursions through the desert to Cairo and the Pyramids) had survived on the itinerary and another trip was from Aqaba through the baking, shimmering Jordanian Desert to the once lost rose-red city of Petra?

I have never known Suez really cool and Naples/ Vesuvius, Pompeii and the Royal Palace of Caserta are in the south of Italy in early May: not the north of Iceland in March!

I really can’t think why she didn’t have a fortnight in Colwyn Bay! Clearly this cruise is not for her.

But it is, decidedly so, for most of the other 1 600 passengers on board, many of whom, like me, booked a berth almost a year ago, the day reservations opened for the MSC Melody’s annual re-positioning cruise from sailing mainly the waters off Kwa-Zulu-Natal and the Mozambique islands, where winter is imminent, to the Mediterranean, for the a northern hemisphere’s summer.


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