FERRYING IN '15, 23rd June, Laurana
Tuesday 23rd June 2015 (contd)
We set off south then to Naples, on a good dual-carriageway road. The middle of the road was full of bougainvillea in full flower, and safely behind big concrete blocks. Swallows were flying overhead in places as they had been for some days and we enjoyed the route with mountains on our land side and occasional views of the sea on the other.
At one point we passed high above the port of Civitavecchia and could look down and see a Cunard liner which might have been QUEEN ELIZABETH, an AIDA cruise ship and another ship which could have been either BONARIA or AMISCORA, the pair of ex-Minoan Lines 'Palaces' which are now employed by Tirrenia.
We provided our own entertainment, without distracting the driver too much, and this began with singing. I am in a local singing group and we have just done our two summer concerts, and many melodies were in my head. My two friends had been in school choirs some years ago, which surprised us all. We sang what I thought was a well-known piece called "The Teddy Bears Picnic", written in 1932, which was fun with our contrasting voices. My choir concerts entitled "Ages and Seasons" included various pieces such as that one, Mozart's "Ave Verum" which is beautiful, and of course "Summer is icumin in" which was huge fun when sung with 4 groups of us starting to sing in turn as a round.
We had a good lunch break at an auto-route complex with time to eat and relax before heading south again, with the beautiful flowers and views around us. This time it was decided to play the classic I-SPY, and we took it in turn to spy something inside the car. My diary noted that just 3 items (one each) took a long time to guess, with much hilarity, and then we needed time for silent contemplation.
We arrived in the vast city of Naples, which had more cobbled streets than we knew about but the directions from the driver's mobile phone proved efficient and we eventually drove into the appropriate parking place for the hire car offices. After that drive in Naples I think we all made mental notes to avoid doing it again in future, if at all possible, although our driver coped heroically.
A taxi took us to the port and we could soon see LAURANA, of Siremar, at the Naples Maritime Terminal building. She was built in 1992 in Italy, at 10,977 gross tons, and we are to sail on her overnight with an unusual itinerary, on our way to Milazzo in Sicily.
Once checked in at 7.30 p.m. and on board, it was interesting to see the map of the Siremar routes around the coast of Sicily, and the location of the islands near to the African coastline.
We wanted to leave our bags before going on deck for 8.00 p.m. departure, so headed for our outside cabins. I put the card in my door lock, turned the handle and took a step into the room. To my amazement one of my friends was standing there, and I have to confess I let out a shriek of surprise. I discovered we had adjoining cabins with a door between, and someone had decided to go through the door and stand in front of me as I went in my cabin!
After apologising, we examined our beds and bedding, and were amused to find that although we were on a Siremar ship, our bedding was unexpectedly named. My pillowcase, sheet and duvet cover were all marked with the Tirrenia logo, but a blanket in the wardrobe was bright red, with a large letter 'A' emblazoned on it. That was 'A' for Adriatica, or anything else one chose...
The LAURANA was built for Adriatica, hence the blankets. My friends said that in fact she was the very last ship built for that most famous of shipping companies. She wasn't quite the AUSONIA or, for car ferry enthusiasts, the APPIA, but she was the last in a long and very distinguished line.
Photographs took up a few minutes, but eventually we went on deck by the short stern staircase we found just beyond our cabins.
Meanwhile there was lots to see from the open decks - the cruise ship ISLAND ESCAPE was just leaving so we could watch her, and then see SOVEREIGN arrive. The sun was starting to set over the Maritime Terminal and the golden hour was beautiful, whichever way we looked. Volcanic Vesuvius was steaming gently on the other side of the bay, and many ferries could be seen around the bay. The RHAPSODY, previously known to us as the NAPOLEON BONAPARTE, could be seen nearby.
We eventually sailed after 8 p.m., watched the Pilot leave, and headed up to the self-service Buffet Restaurant for a meal.
The food was plentiful, well-presented and excellent value; the Restaurant was full, with people constantly coming and going, and it all seemed to work well. We joined lots of other passengers in the nearby Bar, and admired the lighting around the room.
Tomorrow we are due to arrive at Milazzo, on the Italian island of Sicily, at about noon, with several ports of call on the way. Our first call tomorrow morning is just before 6 o'clock so I set my alarm to get up in time - it is to be the volcanic island of Stromboli!
I was really excited about this, along with most of the passengers on board LAURANA I think.
I can remember sailing round one side of the island in darkness once before, standing on the Bridge of the chartered VICTORIA during the Union-Castle Line Centenary Voyage in January 2000. Then we could clearly see the glowing lava and embers coming out of the top of the volcano and flying up into the night sky. I was a director of the re-launched company, and a few of us had been working on the plans for a Centenary Voyage since 1995. My late husband had planned the most wonderful itinerary, calling at ports historically linked with the Company, and once we had the business plan and financial backing, we knew all might be well. The good ship VICTORIA was chartered for 66 days, and I was invited to sign the charter party document on behalf of Union-Castle Line. Even more hard work then commenced. I was not involved in the day-to-day running of the office but as an ex-employee of the Company (as a sea-going Purserette), I was in a unique position to join the management team. I sailed on the Centenary Voyage both as a director of the re-launched company and as liaison between my boardroom colleagues and the Captain, and it was extremely hard work and a bitter-sweet experience on board.
Ships seen in Naples: Laurana, Demonios, Rhapsody, SNAV Lazio, Rafaelo Rubatino, Cartour Gamma, Fauno, Driadne, Island Princess, Don Peppino, Sovereign, Celestina, Moby Bastia, Grimaldi's new vessel in drydock, Patrizia, Ala, Rosa d'Abundo, Nilo (new hydro-foil? on stocks), Ponza Jet, Zenit, Marine Club, SNAV Orion, SNAV Aurora, Vetor 944 ? hydrofoil, SNAV Achione (old Norwegian ferry, still with black hull), Isola de Procino in dry dock, Anna Maria Lauro, Paolo Veronese, Antonio Amabile, Superfast Canarias, Arv 2, Achernar, SNAV Aquila
To be continued...