Life on board Repubblica Argentina.

We are in Hamburg Container Port (Germany), nearing the end of our Freighter Cruise (to use Grimaldi's slightly optimistic phrase). To get here we have been within 30km of the UK, but on this trip the ship goes to Hamburg first then back to Tilbury (UK) and then to Le Havre (France) before returning to West Africa and South America. It will take us at least three more days to get to Tilbury. (Just to make it more interesting UK customs are apparently on strike and we may not get out of Tilbury until 2007-05-08 (in a weeks time!)

Life on board Repubblica Argentina is good, better than I had expected.

The food is good and unlimited (though being an Italian ship it tends towards pasta). The chef is happy to take passenger requests and he delivers. There is wine with most meals and mineral water (con or sin gas) is available. All the crew are friendly. The captain is approachable.

However after three weeks life has become routine, very routine.

The boredom routine has been alleviated a little by a shore excursion in Rio (Brazil)...

...and Dakar (Senegal)...

...a life-boat drill (I felt far safer before it!)...

...several barbecues (the senior officers cook) and (nearly) the whole crew eat together, often in strange places...

... and a round of the ever popular "hunt the bomba".

You will be glad to know they found it well before 17:09. We were also given the "code words" for special occasions. These are (as of 2007-05-01) didn't think I would tell you did you?

Things to bring with you on a Grimaldi Freighter Cruise from Europe to South America and vice versa.

N.B. I only have experience of one ship (Repubblica Argentina) and I am told that some other Grimaldi ships are very different. It also seems to depend who is the captain at the time you travel. One fellow passenger traveled out to SA on this ship six months ago and he said that it was now far better under the current captain.

Don't count on getting access to your vehicle frequently although you will probably be able to visit it once or twice under escort. So in addition to clothes, your passport, your yellow fever certificate and your medical insurance take:

  • Photocopies of your passport (you will need these for your shore passes)
  • Breakfast cereal (they only have "own-brand" cornflakes).
  • Snacks (supper is at 18:00, breakfast at 07:30).
  • Books, don't count on wanting to read the ones on board.
  • MP3 player.
  • DVDs, preferably ones with English/German/French subtitles for your fellow passengers.
  • Laptop computer and GSM phone preferably with GPRS enabled (mine worked well in Europe, Dakar, off the Canary Islands, Rio and BA).
  • GPS, so you know where you are and when you will get there (load the coordinates for your ports of call before you start).
  • Camera.
  • Chargers for the above (220 volts).
  • Table tennis balls (and bats if you need one with a handle.)

And finally: In order to save on paper the daily menu is printed of the back of the various forms needed at each port. Often these forms are more interesting than the menu. From them we have learned that:

  • There are no stowaways on board (but 29 crew, 5 passengers and no "Kroo Boys".
  • None of us has smallpox or bubonic plague.
  • There has been no unexpected increase in rat and mice mortality in the last 4 weeks.
  • There were (on one day several weeks ago) 2806 cars on board.
  • We have 200 tonnes of fresh water.
  • When the captain's birthday is.
  • Who scraped one of the new cars when loading it, and where.
  • That we used to have 20kg of chocolate on board, but now have only 10kg.
Stephen Stewart.

Home - This page last changed on 2007-05-02.