It’s cold out. I may have mentioned this. We are now running three hours late on our way to Beijing tomorrow morning. Why? Ice. The sea has turned to ice. I kid you not. It’s creepy. It doesn’t help to walk through the pub and hear ‘My Heart Will Go On’, I can assure you. (No, the band really were singing this) Not iceBERGS, obviously, but large chunks, several metres wide some of them, and heaven knows how deep they go. So we have slowed down. We’re a cruise ship, not an ice breaker. We’re solid but we’re not reinforced to that extent! If I had to describe the sight, and I will have to, because it was impossible to get a picture in the darkness, it was like your local lake when it freezes over in winter. Small bits floating on the top, that gradually join together to form bigger and bigger bits, rather like the way the universe came into being. Then the bigger bits stick to bigger bits and form bigger bits, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera and so forth*. These bits didn’t look particularly big, but we were looking from a hundred feet up, so they were probably a metre or so across. And the whole sea was covered in them. Not just one or two floating past here and there. As far as the eye could see in every direction with nary a gap between them. Just like you see on documentaries about the Arctic or Antarctic. So cool. I wish I could share a photo with you, but I don’t think anyone got a good one. I’ll ask around and see if anyone did, just in case, but you may just have to use your imaginations, I’m afraid.
On the plus side, all this cold over the past two days has meant that the ambient temperature down in the bowels of the ship has dropped, which has meant that I have been able to brush my teeth in cold water for the first time since Egypt. Usually, it’s all a bit tepid, verging on the warm at times, which is singularly unpleasant, I have to tell you. It’s not a major problem in the grand scheme of things, which is why I haven’t whinged about it (there are plenty enough whingers on here without my joining in, I can tell you!), but it is nice to have cold water for a change! I have had to turn the shower up from 15 to 20 degrees though, to compensate! (cos when the cold feed is warm, you don’t need much hot!)
We make our own water. I think we can produce about 100,000 gallons a day, but we can only do this when we’re doing over 12 knots (the desalination equipment can’t run at less than that, apparently). This meant that we made no water for two days when we were in Egypt (Port Said and the Suez Canal transit, where the speed limit is 9 knots). Mind you, when we were running past pirates in the Gulf of Aden we were doing over 22 knots, so I guess we made up for it then! We got so low on water that we loaded several tankers-full at Sharm El Sheikh, but when it came out it was such a dodgy colour, they quarantined it and I think they decided not to use it in the end! The yellowness may have just been caused by sand, but I prefer my water to be as near colourless as possible with a vague tinge of blue, if it’s all the same to you!
I should warn those of you that have never taken a cruise that the tap water isn’t as lovely as that you get at home. Not by a long chalk. Some days it’s salty, some days they go a bit nuts with the chlorine, sometimes it just tastes plain odd, but it’s nothing that a couple of ice cubes can’t fix! And the bottled stuff we buy on is nice enough, usually. On a previous cruise, we had some bottled stuff that was absolutely horrid, but so far, the Buxton we loaded in Southampton and the Krivos we loaded in Athens have been lovely. Now we have stuff called Splash that we loaded in Singpoare, which is also very nice, so when the tap water is having a bad day (it varies considerably depending on which tank we are drinking from!) that even ice cubes can’t redeem, there’s always something drinkable somewhere on board!