With sunrise at 06.00 and a hazy sky we serenely sailed over a flat calm Mediterranean and then into Santorini. The hazy sky was courtesy of the lack of wind today but it all cleared up by 09.00 hrs. when the sun burned it off. The high pressure system over the Balkans which causes the winds in the Aegean Sea is not yet permanently in place (they also have cloudy days on the Pusta’s) and thus it was wind still, yesterday and today. The captain had opted to come in via the South West entrance and then sail north to our “floating area”. The Celestyal Spirit was already at anchor on the hump as she is larger than the Ovation in guest capacity and makes more calls but still small enough to leave plenty of space to come close to the town. Sailing into Santorini is always interesting as parts of the outer Crater wall loom overhead and the black core creates a sort of round-a-bout where the ships have to sail around to get wherever they want to go.
I have never been to Santorini this early in the season and it was most amazing to see that the cliffs and even the core top were covered in green fresh looking grass. It does rain here in the winter but when the scorching summer sun starts and the strong winds keep the clouds away, it all turns rusty brown very quickly. But today the brown rocks, green grass and white houses looked very unreal in Santorini but very nice.
The ship is floating and kept on location by the bridge team using the thrusters. This is caused by the fact that the center crater core goes straight down for several hundred feet and it is the same with the crater walls where the villages are. Very close to the shore there is room for small cruise ships to moor on buoys but anything over 150 meters or so has to stay in deep water unless you get the hump allocated. The hump is a small mountain top which rises up at the cone site but stops about 50 feet under water. That is an ideal anchorage depth as if Mother Nature had planned it that way. The only challenge is, is that the hump is small and thus the anchor & chain has the tendency to fall off into deeper water. The only way around it, is to put the anchor on one side of the hump near the top and then curve the chain around the rest of the hump so there is the maximum amount of friction and holding power. Not so important on a wind still day but crucial on windy days.
Although Santorini is an anchor port, we do not use the ships tenders. All transport is done by a local boat company and it works quite well. There is no fighting over tender dock space and the boats are shared out to where they are most needed. The have a large number of boats and can meet the demand of several (large) ships at the anchorage. When not in use, they are laid up in two small natural inlets in the crater core.
The day in Santorini is the final day of this three week cruise from Dubai to Piraeus and most guests will go home. Some guests have been on board since Hong Kong and some guests are extending to Barcelona as there are a few cabins empty. The Seabourn is getting a lot of revenue out of these extensions and thus the creation of repeat guests. And nowadays this is extremely important as there are more and more new players popping up, especially in the luxury cruise segment. And then the attention to detail becomes important. So here is a photo of what I found on my bed after coming back from dinner. A little folded boat with my pass photo on it, never seen that before but a very nice idea. The photo comes out of the gangway database and was taken in the terminal upon embarkation. Those photos (mugshots???) are never the best but it is the thought that counts. But just think about the amount of time and effort it must have taken to print the photo, cut it, fold the paper work and glue my ugly face onto it.
I mentioned yesterday that there was an evening show called an evening with Sir Tim Rice about musical stuff. What they had done was quite clever. The great man was not on board of course but with the Led system backstage they could superimpose him on the screen as if he was there. Showing up three or four times with a bit of narration. Not that exciting but it was the cast who gave a more than brilliant show. Holland America and Seabourn have started to rotate their stage talents so these smaller casts who are also individual performers and they will come to the HAL ships as well, and vice versa.
Tomorrow is the end of the cruise and I will be leaving the ship and so this is my last blog for the time being. I will now start 5 weeks of vacation. Sometime at home, but also my wife has booked a cruise with the competition and thus I will be at sea again. I Plan is to return to sea and blogging on 04 June, when I am scheduled to join the Zaandam. Then we will re-visit Canadian Maritimes. Thank you being interested in my daily musings and I hope it was not too boring. I did my best to provide a little change of venue by throwing a Seabourn ship in the equation. There might be more in the future but first there will be a series of HAL ships again.