FERRYING IN '15, 26th June, Naples & Ischia
Friday 26th June 2015
On board SNAV SARDEGNA we are due in Naples at 6 a.m. and I notice that my first photograph of the day is taken just after that, so we must be running a little late. We are part of the morning ferry arrivals, although I can see a couple of cruise ships following us in: ISLAND ESCAPE and ALLURE OF THE SEAS.
We are approaching an unexpected berth, not at the maritime terminal, but no-one seems to know why. Some of us are watching what is happening on our port side, and that's when I hear shouting and see arm-waving from the quayside. Just a few feet away from our hull is an unexpected small rowing boat, and it is not the 'ropes' man for our ship; in fact as the rower idles for a moment a dark shape emerges from the water and it is seen to be a diver in a wet suit! This obviously causes consternation as the diver hauls himself very quickly into the tiny rowing boat, and the rower starts to row away from the quay. This causes even more consternation as he is seen to be heading straight for one our ropes being towed by our own 'ropes' man. The rower suddenly realises what is happening and hurriedly changes direction (still rowing and facing backwards of course) and missed our trailing rope by nothing much. He could be seen rowing all the way across the harbour at some speed for some time...
After that excitement, things settled down and we were tied up safely, but none the wiser about the diver in the wet suit or the contents of the rowing boat. We were also none the wiser about disembarking from SNAV SARDEGNA. We passengers hovered around the lounge, bars or reception areas, but nothing happened and there were no announcements. Out on deck however we realised that the giant ALLURE OF THE SEAS had taken up our expected berth (and probably others too) so we had been allocated one that had no gangways or facilities for cars, ramps or foot passengers. We could see eventually that every car or lorry on board had to get off the ship one at a time, wait to make a sharp turn, and then join the nearby roadway. A break was made during this activity and foot passengers were marshalled down various stairs and decks until we could finally walk off the ramp on to ground level. I think we disembarked at 7.35 a.m.
We walked very fast after this, round and out of the ferry port, past the maritime terminal, and down to the ticket office for the Ischia ferries. This was very busy and we discovered there was only one man on duty selling the Ischia tickets; luckily for a lot of us hoping to get the 7.45 a.m. ferry to Ischia, there was a man from the ferry itself who seemed to know about the SNAV arrival delay and sent a message to 'hold the ferry'. Lots of us almost flew the last few yards to the vessel, and thanked them for waiting for us. We fell into lower deck seats and breathed heavily for some time.
We are to sail from Naples to the island of Ischia, calling at the island of Procida on the way, with the whole journey taking just under an hour. We are on board ALDEBARAN, built in 1987 at 224 gross tons, and a fast craft sailing for Caremar. We left Naples harbour slowly but once beyond the breakwater picked up speed and rose above the water. Many passengers left at Procida and some got on; we had time to look at a notice about pets on board which must be in a Pet-Bag.
Soon we arrived at the island of Ischia and disembarked, and enjoyed walking around the port town of this popular and beautiful island. There was time for a coffee break before making our way slowly round to another part of the bay for a ferry back to Naples.
Ships seen: Island Escape, Allure of the Seas, SNAV Sardegna, Aldebaran, MSC Divina, Niaide, Vincenzo Florio, Benito Buono
To be concluded...