Today ends our sojourn in South Africa. We can, according to our ticket, board the Queen Mary 2 at noon but first we need to return our rent car to Hertz and get to the dock; after some breakfast, of course.
We are both up by 8AM and Dick leaves about 8:30 to return the car while Carolyn finishes our packing and uploads some more of the blog. The GPS leads Dick directly to the car return on Loop Street in downtown Capetown and, after a minute inspection of the vehicle for damage, they sign off and give him a receipt for it. Hertz did us no favors by giving us the car in a dark airport parking garage where it was nearly impossible to inspect it for every little nick and scratch and Dick did miss a few, but they also accepted the return in a similar location and missed the chip in the windshield. It was filthy from all the driving on dirt roads and the rain on the way into Cape Town so we are sure that covered a multitude of sins. We do not know whether the chip which was tiny, occurred on our watch but we did not notice it until half way along in our trip so maybe it did. Turn about is fair play! Dick finds a taxi and gets a ride back to the hotel and has only been gone about 45 minutes.
We go to breakfast and that turns into a comedy of errors as everybody is taking orders but nothing is showing up. Carolyn’s tea comes but not Dick’s coffee. After the third request for coffee, Dick finds the manager and asks and it does finally arrive. We both ordered "flap jacks" and when they finally show, after two or more inquiries, they are cold and about the size of hockey pucks. Ok, we go another route and both retire to the buffet line for fried eggs to go with the hot crisp bacon that came with the hockey pucks and are well fed. Plus we receive profuse apologies from the manager when he sees we didn’t eat the flap jacks. We guess stuff happens but why is it usually to us? Even so this is truly a lovely hotel!
We have arranged for a car at 11:45AM and agreed to be out of our suite by 11:30. We call for luggage assistance and by the time we get down to the car it is loaded and we are off to the docks. Maybe we can get some lunch on board! NOT!!@!!
Arriving at the dock we are turned away and sent to the nearby convention center where we unload and our luggage is hauled away. We go upstairs and stand in a line along with several hundred, new, close friends as we wait to check in and get our room keys, etc. After nearly an hour, when the line has not moved more than a few feet, we finally make it to the check-in table, get our key cards and are told to take a seat. We have been given little numbered stickers denoting our boarding group and we are way down the list. So much for priority boarding for Queen’s Grill passengers. The joke about HAL being the cruise line for "the newly wed and the nearly dead" could partially apply to the Queen Mary 2, at least on this cruise..."Queen Mary 2 cruise for the nearly dead" as we are about the youngest of the nearly 1000 passengers waiting to board as there are many, many walkers and wheelchairs plus canes. Guess we fit right in with Carolyn’s sticks
To cut to the chase, it is nearly 3:30PM before we board our bus to the ship and we still have to go through South African Immigration and the ubiquitous strip search! Finally we are on board and arrive at our suite, #9017, only to find that our key cards do not work! A steward heads off to get them rekeyed and returns with a pass card to let us into our room. Collapse!!
New cards arrive courtesy of the concierge and our steward helps us unpack and hang up clothes; "This service is upon request only." Carolyn requests as there was a bit of a mishap on the bus to the terminal with a Brit who was determined to get around Carolyn. There is ice in the bucket but no Coca-Cola! How has Pepsi gotten exclusive rights to so many places?! Dick goes to the nearest bar and buys four bottles of Coca-Cola for $16 and we mix a much desired libation and then a second one. Much better! Now just the life boat drill to complete and we are good to go! It is probably the least informative drill we have ever done...they don't even check us in so that they know all the new passengers have attended!
The ship is supposed to sail at 4:30PM and that was changed to 6PM earlier in the afternoon but does not actually sail until nearly 7:30PM. The captain must be going crazy as the last delay is the absent pilot and the early delay was South African Immigration clearance. By now the room is put together, we are feeling no pain, have watched the sunset on Cape Town and Table Mountain and it is well past dark so we go to our first dinner in the Queen's Grill.
We begin to feel some motion to the ship during dinner and dinner is a very pleasant experience with good food and good service. The choices and always available in this top end restaurant are much more extensive than what we had on the Queen Elizabeth in the Britannia Grill and more along the lines of a good restaurant at home.
We both order another cocktail, Dick has Dover Sole finished table side and Carolyn has the grilled shrimp, part of an Asian dish that sounds good, and a baked potato. She requests all the trimmings...grated cheddar cheese, butter and sour cream, no problem! It is so good and cooked to perfection! It is a delight to watch Dick’s sole being prepared. We finish off with a scoop of rum raisin ice cream and hot tea. We are both nearly asleep at the table by the time we are through and we do not tarry but head for bed. The room is cool and the bed comfortable and South Africa is 15 miles off our starboard side; we can see the lights. Good night all.