Saga Pearl II blog - Captains' blogs
5th March, 2019
After 6 days steaming steadily SSE’wards, we finally found landfall off the west coast of Angola on the morning of the 6th March. Today also happened to coincide with the annual local ‘Carnaval’ festivities – common in many Latin countries at this time of year. Whilst Angola is not a place that some would consider of Latin heritage, it has significant ties with the Portuguese, history-wise.
The modern city of Luanda was founded in 1575 by a Portuguese explorer named Paulo Novais, (or so my book tells me) and soon became a centre for trade between Portugal’s African colonies and Brazil. Apart from a brief period of Dutch occupation, Luanda was under Portuguese rule until 1974. In the four decades or so since independence, it has become a (mostly) peaceful and increasingly prosperous country, since the locals have stumbled – intentionally or otherwise – across both diamonds and oil.
As we approached the hazy African coastline, signs of the oil industry became prevalent; oil platforms were dotted upon the 100m depth contour, and anchored oil support vessels littered the area. Once the city came into view, the local wealth was apparent from the amount of skyscrapers present. This place is ranked as one of the most expensive cities on earth, for it imports almost everything it requires.
We embarked our local pilot once we were well & truly inside the harbour, and just a few hundred metres from the berth. He arrived on the Bridge just in time to see us throw our lines ashore. Alongside by 09:00, we awaited arrival of the inevitable cast of thousands dressed in various official uniforms to ‘clear’ the ship into port.
Once the officials had consumed an appropriate amount of doughnuts & sticky buns, the ship was cleared and everyone was delighted to venture ashore after 6 days at sea. Organised tours mostly ran upon city sightseeing themes, but there was also a trip offered further afield to Mussulo Island for a delicious seafood lunch which also included a boat cruise. There apparently is a fairly diverse amount of sights to see around the city and suburbs, from palm-punctuated bays to colonial districts and Portuguese fortresses.
Passengers not on organised trips made good use of the free shuttle into the city, and also a free trip to a nearby air-conditioned hotel with pool and a couple of drinks included - another nice gesture by Saga to keep our passengers cool in the heat of the tropics. I was told that the locals were extremely friendly, too. Judging by the reception we received, cruise ships are not a regular feature in the harbour; even the Secretary of State and Minister of Tourism come down to visit!
Well, all good port visits must come to an end, and just as the sun dipped into the south Atlantic ocean we slipped our moorings and headed back out to sea again. Four more days at sea in a general southerly direction would have us arriving in South Africa at last; the highlight country of this voyage for sure. I’ll keep you posted of our progress…
Captain Kim Tanner
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