We’re currently doing quite a bit of tendering from ship to shore, but you need to be reasonably sure-footed, even with the strong hands of the crew holding you tightly, and there’s a definite technique to boarding. Timing is everything as you wait for the sea swell to bring the tender closer to the platform then take that first step - before the sea pulls the tender away and opens up a deep blue, watery gap. To us landlubbers the sea this morning looked fine, but apparently the swell was just too dangerous to safely transfer passengers, many of whom are quite elderly, without risking losing a few overboard.
So there were murmurs of disappointment all over the ship when the announcement was made that the morning in Amalfi, and the excursions to Positano and Ravello, had been cancelled - particularly from the poor woman who actually had her foot raised to step onto the tender when the announcement came over the PA.
Of course I regretted missing out on seeing Amalfi (and its shops!) and Boak regretted the chance to get a proper Italian coffee, but it meant a ‘bonus’ morning to spend trying out the jacuzzi on the aft deck and relaxing on a deck chair with my appliqué and audiobook as we steamed south towards Agropoli.
We anchored off Agropoli at lunchtime and in spite of the continuing big swell the organizers decided to go ahead with our planned afternoon excursion – rather than risk a mutiny, I suspect!
Since this is only the third voyage for the Aegean Odyssey there were bound to be teething problems, and getting passengers off the ship with plenty of time left for the excursion to the ruins of Paestum was not smooth sailing, culminating in an earnest, if lighthearted, attempt by some passengers to storm the tender where the “concierge class” passengers were being boarded before “all other guests” (that’s us).
We were all meant to have left the ship at 2.00pm but it took so long to transfer all the passengers to shore that some of us – the patient ones! – didn’t leave the ship until 4.20pm, consequently having the lightning-fast version of the guided tour of Paestum and not arriving back on board until after 7.30pm.
I couldn’t praise the catering staff enough, though. In spite of the fact that dinner was almost over, they not only extended the dinner time for the 60 or so of us involved, but allowed us time to change and debrief with a very necessary pre-dinner drink. I think there must have been some anxious talks behind the scenes because later that evening there was a note under our cabin door telling us we’d been allocated to a colour-coded group (in our case brown! - don’t they know I’m a pink lady?) and disembarkation will in future take place in these groups.
It’s certainly improved the people-moving, and all seems calm for now.