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Farewell committee stands ready. Luggage offload not going as planned.

Venice was very busy today. Very busy. Every Tom, Dick and Harry was messing about in boats on a Saturday morning in Venice lagoon. We wound our way along the snake like channel to our berth. We were the smallest ship by far in the cruise port. With us were the Norwegian Jade, MSC Poescia, MSC Lyrica, Splendour of the Seas and Riveria. It was a hot and steamy morning when we arrived. The humidity meter was maxed out but this did not deter our Seabourn guests from enjoying the sail in. The Observation bar and deck 6 forward were packed. Our staff served coffee and sticky buns to our guests at 6am. I was delighted that so many had come out to enjoy the spectacle that is a Venice arrival. I waved to them from the bridge. This iconic port is up there with the likes of entering Port Jackson in which lies the city of Sydney, with Rio De Janeiro and Vancouver. No doubt you will have your own favourites.

Once alongside our berth the organised chaos began. The first task was to offload all the baggage. Our gangway needed to be moved. The baggage train driver was not happy with its position. He could not drive his carts near enough to the conveyor belt. He gesticulated in that Italian way. We compromised. He calmed down. The luggage rolled off the ship. Is that a salmon luggage tag or pink? Magenta you say. Oh! Looks reddish to me. With only 2 guests in transit we had a full complement of guests to bid farewell too and a full list to board. Lots of happy smiling faces leave. A certain ring adorned a very special finger. That ring has a special story to tell. “We are staying at the Danielli” says one couple. I make a mental note of that. Stewardesses made up suites and the bar staff restocked fridges with Grey Goose, Blue Sapphire, Red Bull and other colourful libations, engineers refuelled the ship, we offloaded our garbage carefully segregated to recycle, the navigators reprogrammed all the bridge gizmos for the trip back to Triluke Bay, weather forecasts were downloaded, the Provisions Master restocked his storerooms with all the essentials ranging from toilet rolls to caviar (both equally as important), carpets were vacuumed, surfaces were polished, painted, oiled, sandpapered, swept or a combination of any of these, chefs cooked, mechanics tweaked engines, electronic officers do whatever it is they do to make things work again and I sit and wonder what it is that I have forgotten to do. I tick off tasks on my list, say hello to agents, service technicians, Customs Officers and grumpy mooring men because I decided to shift one of my mooring lines to a more advantageous position. I pointed out to our agent that a rather tatty and dirty looking Italian flag hanging limply from the terminal building was a sight for sore eyes. It was removed. It was replaced by a brand new one. It flapped lazily in the thick air. We all took a breath.

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Big ships everywhere.

Our new guests boarded. We held our passenger drill, we waited for 2 guests held up in a water taxi, they boarded, we sailed. Passing the Danielli Hotel we saw the two guests that left this morning waving from a balcony. We waved our big white wooden hand designed for such occasions back at them to bid them farewell. I hope they saw us. The ship took a small list to port as the railings were lined with guests taking photos of the people taking photos of us in San Marco. We joined the traffic lanes across the Adriatic. I left the bridge and sat in my comfy chair in my cabin. Another Venice was over. A hot shower was required and achy and knotty shoulders eased. I wrote this. I caught up with events at home. An email from Debbie my wife brings me up to date with life at home. The All Blacks have beaten the Springboks at Rugby. Aha! I knew that I had forgotten something. I have not had a cup of tea all day. I’m gasping. The kettle awaits. Goodnight.

Mark Dexter 2015