23rd March, 2022
A bright but slightly chilly morning dawned on us as we approached the port for Tunisia’s capital, La Goulette. We swung the ship around in the harbour and backed down onto the berth, parallel parking in front of a healthy amount of media and photographers on the quayside.
The reason for all this press interest is that we were the first cruise ship to call here for a number of years. With years of security threats followed by Covid, this normally touristic country has suffered greatly from a lack of visitors for the bulk of the past decade.
A whole host of important figures turned out to welcome us, including the Tourism and Transport Ministers, as well as the British Ambassador. After being thrust in front of various cameras and microphones, duly thanking everyone for their hospitality and reiterating our delight to be here, I was then asked if I wanted to ride (or lollop) around the quayside on a camel.
This was without doubt the most exciting offer I would receive today, and so I gladly accepted, much to the amusement of the surrounding TV crews.
Many of our guests had other things on their minds though, for there were organised trips due to visit all sorts of weird and wonderful sounding spots today. Souks, museums and exotic sounding places like Sidi Bou Said and Kairouan were all on offer, and perhaps even more of a novelty was that each vehicle would be escorted by a motorcade of various police escorts throughout the day, making all feel like VIP’s.
As the African sun neared the western horizon, it was time for us to depart and as part of the Bridge Team’s training, our 2nd Officer took a turn to ‘drive’ the ship out of port. Although I could afford to have a cup of tea in my hand, I was obliged to keep a close eye on proceedings but pleasingly all went smoothly and we sailed back out into the Mediterranean, westbound again towards Spain.
Captain Kim Tanner
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