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Another ship, another mad day at the Consulate. And another…

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Cruise ship days see people on St Helena pulling out all the stops to give visitors a great day ashore – and boost their income. HAZEL WILMOT, owner of the Consulate Hotel in Jamestown, gives an idea of what’s involved.

Consulate courtyard
The Consulate’s courtyard, bars and delicatessen

Usual busy Saturday night in the hotel, but a good book kept me riveted to the page, so lights out at 3am.

Up at 6am to feed cats, water herb garden, check on emails and get my mind around the idea of work on a Sunday instead of gardening on the farm.

By 7am the first of the staff started trickling in, and by 8am, all were hard at work with final preparations for the anticipated cruise ship visit of anything from 0 to 900 passengers.

As luck would have it, the weather and condition of the sea dictated a no-go. Locals were more than happy with sea conditions.

Only the disembarking passengers were permitted to go ashore. I gather there was a minor revolt of the passengers on board. This resulted in the captain applying for permission to overstay one night, and re-assessing the sea conditions as of 5.30am.

In the interim the tour operators have been told to be on standby for 7am tomorrow.

Hotel frontage, with balcony
Historic: the Consulate Hotel

We utilized the reprieve to apply all hands to their stations and we packed and repacked shelves, cleaned and wiped and polished all that which hadn’t been done prior to this morning.

All bottles of booze were removed from bar shelves, wiped and dusted, replaced on shelves. Fridges were unpacked and repacked and restocked. Additional stock was unpacked and priced in the Bosun’s Locker off-licence, windows were cleaned and polished, the front of the hotel got another coat of paint downstairs, bananas in pots outside were watered and the front veranda floor scrubbed and cleaned.

In short, we worked like Trojans making use of the extra time to get yet more organized.

All staff went home at 1pm – and a yachting family and I retired to the kitchen for a well-deserved lunch…

…which was interrupted by 12 crew members from the World ARC Rally wanting food and drink.

Consulate courtyard
The Consulate’s courtyard, bars and delicatessen

We gave them a choice of 10 beef or chicken curries, made two vegetarian salad platters, opened the bar, sold wi-fi internet vouchers and phone cards, and finally, two hours later, I got to escape for a much-needed siesta. Bliss!

Tomorrow we repeat the same cycle. Being ever-optimistic, I have taken out food and cakes, ready for a very early start.

I have carried coffee filter jugs and machine down to snack bar so as to keep up with demand for freshly brewed coffee, restocked the last of the fridge space, taken down extra milk, sugar, teas and coffees, sales sheets for lots of sales, ditto extra change, ditto extra pens, ditto extra serviettes, cutlery and crockery – extra milk jugs, cups and saucers – cleaning cloths and sprays for wiping down tables, nice smelling disinfectant for quick floor wash tomorrow – restocked post card stand, etcetera.

I have taken out frozen bacon, tins of baked beans, dozens of eggs, white and brown bread, buns and rolls to defrost, as no doubt breakfast is also on the cards if they are having an early start.

I have checked all salt and pepper cellars are full, issued butter and jam sachets for the  scones – plain and fruit – made a note to tell Karl to bake off croissants for tomorrow, taken out chicken drumsticks for curry, and potatoes for some poor soul to start peeling as the first visitor shows his or her face. Rice and potatoes to start cooking, margarine and butter, extra milk issued from stores for teas and scrambled eggs.

Now, fingers crossed we get the flipping passengers off the ship in the morning.

Beautiful calm night, no wind, warm to hot evening – makes one want to lie on the lawn outside and search the night sky for satellites and shooting stars.

Bedtime. Very early start.

(As posted from St Helena at 22.44hrs on Sunday, 20 January 2013)

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