Our containership voyage was set to take nearly 3 weeks to complete, so I thought for sure we’d see some wild weather along the way as we crossed the Mediterranean Sea or the Indian Ocean. Except for a few distant thunder storms that put on a lightening display for us as we approached South East Asia, the weather remained fine and clear which disappointed me in a way. I really wanted to experience some violent rolling and pitching…next time maybe.
As we closed in on the Malacca Strait we steamed along a shipping highway where we passed one of those ‘monster’ container ships that dwarfs even our relatively large vessel; the 398m long Elley Maersk. The Elley Maersk is one of eight in its class which are the largest in the world. Its engine is also the largest at 109,000bhp.
As the sun sets on our time aboard the Hanjin Brussels, I’m sad to leave new friends and this lifestyle behind. Although this life isn't my cup of tea; i.e. spending 4-7 months at sea and the culture on the ship is very formal and between the officers it looks a little frosty. Maybe this is a result of the rotation policy of personnel on the vessel or is needed to keep a clear distinction of command. Passengers, thankfully, can circumvent this culture somewhat seeing we're outside the command structure. Although in saying that I don't even know what the master’s name is; he must be always addressed as Captain!
The officers and crew were great fun and very friendly, although I’m guessing the experience is dependent on the effort you put in. For example on the second night we were already having beers and belting out Karaoke songs with the Filipino crew, Dad especially got into it, making a bit of a name for himself – the white Barry White! I gather that most passengers just keep to themselves while on board which is a missed opportunity for them.
You may think that you’d be incredibly bored spending nearly three weeks at sea on a merchant vessel with no casinos or organized entertainment, but it was quite the opposite for us. I ran out of time to do all the things I wanted to (I blame this mainly on the fact I found 50 DVDs of National Geographic documentaries in the ships library) as there seemed to be no end of distractions aboard. And as it turned out it was a real bonus to have my old man along; table tennis just isn’t the same by yourself…
So, would I do it again? Absolutely, I’m so pleased I did it, I’d love to complete a voyage across the Atlantic and Pacific passing through the Panama Canal along the way. If you’re interested in jumping aboard a merchant vessel and completing your own intrepid voyage, contact The Cruise People and they should be able to offer you options that go all over the world, in all directions, and if you do then Bon Voyage!