After a few days of waiting in Honfleur in France, we finally boarded Grimaldi Lines Grande San Paulo on the 7th August, for the next part of our adventure and for us a new continent South America.
We met our fellow passengers, and we all watched Europe disappear for some number of months with a dramatic sunset as we headed out to sea.
Life on board revolved around meal times for both the crew and its 12 passengers. (5 french, 4 German, 2 Irish and 1 Italian).
Breakfast 7.30 – 8.30
Lunch 11.00 – 11.45 (oh yes)
Dinner 18.00 – 18.45
And so life on board the Grimaldi Lines Grande San Paulo – A typical day:
Each morning we got up at 7.15 and I would look out of our cabin window to see what the weather was like.
Lucky for us we had an outside cabin so we felt as though we were in touch with the outside world even if it was water most of the time, but also it was nice to have natural light coming into our cabin during the day. Mind you we didn’t spend much time in our cabin as the weather was good for most of the voyage, always out on deck, happy days, no ginger biscuits required!
Breakfast consisted of warm fresh breads made each morning on the ship, jam, salami or ham, cornflakes, tea and coffee, and a real treat on Sundays was that we also had yoghurt. We also brought some Muesli, Weetabix and Nutella on board so as to vary our options each day, but even if we hadn’t we would have been fine with the above. After breakfast each day we went up on the top deck for our daily walk and excerise. We were lucky that only half of the top deck had cars on it,(but after Rio the entire top deck was empty, cars all moved) so plenty of space for our walking track, and approximately 10 laps was 1 km so we were even able to keep track of our nautical miles each day, Merv obviously did a lot more than I as he APPARENTLY wore out his runners, LOL. By time we had finished this and showered, guess what it was 11.00 Lunch Time!
Lunch was different every day, but being an Italian ship and also our chef was Italian, yes you guessed right we always had Pasta. We always had 3 small courses with wine(wine only for the passengers) followed by coffee and fruit and with both lunch and dinner there was also bread. Here is a sample of 2 days lunches (1) Pasta with Pesto, Salmon, Meat (thinly sliced) with Lettuce. (2) Selection of cold salami’s and pickles, Pasta with nuts and mushrooms, Meat Balls. Fruit consisted of Bananas, Peaches, Plums, Nectarines, Avocado, Papaya, Apples, Oranges and Pineapple, not all together but over the course of the whole voyage, hey not a bad selection.
As the weather was good most days ( it only got a little cold after Santos) we would spend the afternoons sitting out on deck in the sunshine usually reading and doing some writing in my journal, surprisingly enough there was quite a bit to write up each day, I didn’t think there would be myself but each day ,or at least every few days there was something happening or some drill for the crew to do.
For example one after-noon both us passengers and the crew had a fire-drill, the full works into the life-boat and all, another day we were shown the bridge by the Captain and how it operated, also the engine-room by the Chief Engineer, how a bomb search was carried out, how the life-boats were tested and maintained, and also another day the crew tested their fire fighting suits and oxygen supply so for us this was a great experience to see and also to know that everything was in very good working order.
Then we had the days that we would arrive into a port and this would usually take a number of hours as we would have to wait for the pilot to arrive and guide us in, but from the moment that we would spot land it was all systems go with the binoculars and cameras moving from the port to starboard side of the ship all the time, plus we were very lucky that each port we arrived into was in day light so we never missed a trick! When leaving Rio we left in morning so extra lucky here as at one particular point we could see Christ the Redeemer, Pao de Acucar(Sugarloaf) and Copacabana Beach all in a straight line at the one time, pretty cool.
If the weather was bad we had a common room that we could sit in which had couches, card tables, a tv (but only with Italian channels) , also dvd player, some jig-saw puzzles and some board games for example monopoly, scrabble , draughts and chess, but we didn’t use any of them , due to our supply of guide books , maps, movies and tv series (mega thanks to Allie,7 movies and about 6 box sets) and books (22 read so far between us , Merv read one book 520 pages in 14 hours, maybe a record for him). I know I can hear you all saying but what about your Spanish, yes everyday cold or warm we did some Spanish 1 – 2 hours, we are flying now, I don’t think, we will soon have a rude awakening!!!! Oh and yes the Gym, nearly forgot it, in here we had a table-tennis table so that passed a bit of time playing it, table foot-ball, some exercise bikes (tried one but the pedal fell off, so enough said) , also a weights machine which was in good working order I believe.
Dinner also was 3 courses each day served with vino and bread, and here again is a sample of two days (1) Always Pasta Soup to start, Beef with Lemon (a new one for us) , Omelette, Apple and Coffee (2) Pasta Soup, Stuffed Zuchinni, Meat with Spinach, Pear and Coffee.
Every Saturday we had Pizza , and on Thursday’s and Sunday’s we had dessert ,usually cake and or ice-cream, see we were only spoiled on these two days, lol.
For us the food was great , there was only 2 dishes that we didn’t like , one being Octopus and the other a selection of small fried fish. Like that we had also brought an emergency supply with us like cheese and crackers etc., but glad to say we have not used them. Speaking of cheese we usually had some twice a week also, and it was really good too.
Our cabin and ensuite was cleaned and tidied for us every morning, plus each week our towels and bed linen was changed ,mind you we did do our own laundry so we weren’t completely dossing and now that we are coming to the end of our voyage it is going to be back to the grind stone of cooking, washing, cleaning , shopping , driving and map reading to ventures new, bring it on.!!!!!
On the 4th September we said good-bye to Grimaldi and thanked them for a great trip and we drove onto land for the first time in 28 days, through the customs without difficulty and off on our merry way .!