St Helena Online

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Titan boeing

Could Titan be our next European Airline operator for St Helena

Today it was confirmed that Titan Airways has been selected to operate a second charter flight to St Helena on the 27th July 2020.

The charter flight will depart London Stansted and will stop over at Ascension Island on the way to St Helena. Inbound passenger numbers on this charter flight to St Helena is limited due to accommodation limitation for mandatory quarantine on arrival on Island, outbound passengers are also limited to a maximum of 140.

This is the second visit to St Helena for the British charter airline operator as they were contracted to fly COVID-19 test kits, staff and medical supplies during the COVID-19 pandemic on their Airbus A318 via Accra and Ascension Island in April 2020.

Cockpit of 757-200 – credit Bill Abbott

Titan was the first to land an Airbus A318 on St Helena and the second planned flight will see Titan utilise one of their two Boeing 757-200 aircraft.

This will also be the first time for a Boeing 757-200 to land on St Helena, incidentally the 757-200 is identically to the aircraft that is privately owned by the US president Donald trump except its configured to carry more passengers and probably don’t cost as much. Footage and a full blog post from Titans  first arrival and landing at St Helena can found here on https://whatthesaintsdidnext.com/about/blog/

Saints and travellers who have the desire to visit St Helena has voice their opinion on the urgent need for a European hub to fly to St Helena, Could Titan be the next air service operator who could deliver this service from Europe?

Photo credit to Laurent_Errera.

The secret is out: St Helena makes Lonely Planet world top ten

Lonely Planet's guide promises
Lonely Planet’s guide promises “a year’s worth of travel inspiration to take you out of the ordinary.”

St Helena may have to change its “Secret of the South Atlantic” slogan: it has been named in the top ten regions to visit in 2016 by the world-renowned Lonely Planet guides.

The accolade brings “significant global tourism profile” just in time for the scheduled opening of St Helena’s first airport, said the island’s economy chief, Dr Niall O’Keefe.

But global recognition may have come too soon for the island, which will not have anywhere near the number of new hotel beds that island leaders hoped would be in place by the time of the airport opening.

“The wider world can now access the adventure, heritage and natural beauty of St Helena by air,” said Dr O’Keeffe. But he admitted that “much work remains to be done to develop our accommodation and tourism services in the years ahead”.

The Lonely Planet website says: “One of travel’s last truly remote destinations will become a little less so in 2016. St Helena, now accessible only by ship, will gain a long-mooted airport.

“Tourists are unlikely to overrun this speck in the South Atlantic Ocean, but the islanders are building a 32-room hotel just in case. Whatever happens, it won’t change the relaxed pace of life here, nor lessen the lure of a place as curious now as it was when Charles Darwin swung by in 1836.”

Screen Shot 2015-10-27 at 21.54.31St Helena ranks number ten on the list of top regions, which is headed by Transylvania, West Iceland and Cuba’s Valle de Viñales. New Zealand’s Waiheke Island also features on the list, but it doesn’t match St Helena’s remoteness – it’s only 35 minutes by ferry from the city of Auckland.

All ten feature in Lonely Planet’s new Best of Travel 2016 book, along with the world’s top ten countries, headed by Botswana, Japan and the USA.

Lonely Planet describes the 11th edition of the annual publication as a “collection of the hottest trends, destinations, journeys and all-around best travel experiences for the year ahead… a year’s worth of travel inspiration to take you out of the ordinary and into some unforgettable experiences.”

It adds: “Each destination featured has passed through our agonising selection process to win a place on Lonely Planet’s hallowed Best in Travel list.”

Governor Mark Capes welcomed the international plug for the St Helena tourism industry, which could bring “enhanced quality of life” for residents.

He said: “This recognition from Lonely Planet once again underlines how St Helena continues to achieve tremendous success on a global scale with limited resources and the challenges that our remoteness bring.”

Lawson Henry, the councillor in charge of economic development, paid tribute to all those involved in the island’s tourism industry for helping to achieve the top-ten listing.

Dr O’Keeffe will attend an award ceremony in London on Sunday 1 November 2015, along with Enterprise St Helena marketing manager Chanelle Marais, London representative Kedell Warboys MBE and Mairi McKinistry of the Foreign and Commonwealth Office.

It coincides with the World Travel Market.

  • The Best of Travel guide may be right to highlight the attractiveness of St Helena as “the Galápagos of the South Atlantic”, but the lead-in time involved in publishing a book has led to it being slightly out of date in one respect. It says: “…the airport will doubtless change St Helena eventually, but it won’t make it any less exciting or curious as a destination in the short term. Mobile phone reception will remain a rumour…”

SEE ALSO:
Last chance: to St Helena on the RMS – Lonely Planet travel article

Top 10 Regions in Lonely Planet’s Best in Travel 2016

  1. Transylvania, Romania
  2. West Iceland
  3. Valle de Viñales, Cuba
  4. Friuli’s wine regions, Italy
  5. Waiheke Island, New Zealand
  6. The Auvergne, France
  7. Hawaii, USA
  8. Bavaria, Germany
  9. Costa Verde, Brazil
  10. St Helena, British Territories

Stunning island images – but not quite the whole picture

Some truly stunning pictures accompany a travel article urging tourists to seize a last chance to make the “iconic” voyage to Jamestown on the RMS St Helena.

As seen on Twitter: click to read
As seen on Twitter: click to read

One panorama, looking across Bamboo Hedge to Lot and Lot’s Wife, presents an image of an exotic paradise (except, perhaps, for the farm buildings).

The article is slightly geographically confused, putting the island 1,200 miles off Angola and 1,200 miles from the much-more-distant Cape Town.

But it does a good job of promoting a one-off holiday package:

“The 20-day tour offered by Discover the World also includes a unique hosted farm stay in a former East India Company plantation owner’s home and offers plenty of opportunity to enjoy the island’s scenery and historic sites by car.”

It also quotes managing director Clive Stacey, who says: “There are so few places left on the planet that enjoy the veneers of modern civilization but yet are so unaffected by the stresses these can produce.”

This being a promotional travel puff, no mention is made of the very dark stresses that have blighted island life for many, and brought unwelcome media coverage.

Some might find this slightly surprising, given that the article is published by The Daily Mail… the paper that first reported the contents of the leaked report on sex abuse on St Helena.

Read it here

Don’t stay too long at St Helena’s craziest attraction…

In seven years of non-stop travelling to more than 140 countries, Gary Arndt has photographed some extraordinary sights: the rainbows over the Victoria Falls, a diving penguin in Antarctica, even human skulls in the killing fields of Cambodia.

But on St Helena, what caught his eye was the parking sign in Jamestown.

Click here to see his picture of what he believed to be “the world’s most complicated parking zone” (and he’s in a good position to judge).

True, he also took pictures of Sandy Bay and Jonathan the tortoise.

Within a couple of days, his shot of the 58-word No Parking sign had been given more than 50 “likes” on Facebook. Catch Our Travel Bug commented: “By the time you read the sign, your time is up.”

St Helena was one of 13 places around the world that Gary most wanted to visit, on a list he published on his Everything Everywhere travel blog in 2011. While on the island, he marked the seventh anniversary of the day he handed over the keys of his house to go travelling. When he left, he told friends he’d wander the world for a year, but privately thought it might be two years.

He’s since taught himself to become an award-winning photographer. His website attracts more than 100,000 readers a year – many of whom will doubtless savour his descriptions of St Helena.

He was not disappointed by a “gorgeous island with some of the most interesting people in the world”.

And perhaps, with the eye of a travel expert, Gary has identified a tourist attraction that hasn’t been properly appreciated by those whose job is to promote St Helena.

World’s Oldest Tortoise, World’s Toughest Stairs and World’s Most Remote Nearly Everything are all great claims to fame, but World’s Craziest Parking Sign might appeal to an entirely new breed of tourist.

Those who cross oceans to see it are unlikely, one feels, to pull up in a car.

 

SEE ALSO: Everything Everywhere – Gary Arndt’s travel blog.

Cruise writer finds a film set waiting to be discovered

Sandy Bay’s arid landscape could be the setting for a science-fiction fantasy and Diana’s Peak would need no make-up for a role in a remake of Jurassic Park, according to writer Captain Greybeard on the Cruise International website.

He highlights the familiar attractions of St Helena in a stylish piece, but many might challenge his statement that the “incredible blue waters” around the island offer no safe location for swimming or sunbathing.

The Captain finds the cabins on the RMS St Helena “as basic as those on a cross-Channel ferry” but is nonetheless keen to spend more time in them: “It’s a long journey,” he says, “but it’s one I’d like to make again.”

Perhaps he wants a second taste of victory in the ship’s quiz.

The full article is here – and it’s worth a click just to see the superb accompanying photographs, including one of a tropic bird flying over Jamestown.

RMS sailing schedule runs beyond airport opening

The RMS St Helena gets under way, photographed from Munden's Road on St Helena
The RMS St Helena, departing the island in 2009

The new sailing schedule for the RMS St Helena includes two voyages beyond the planned opening of St Helena’s first airport.

And they may not be the ship’s last trips to the island, according to a statement issued after executive councillors approved the schedule.

The ship is also set to drop anchor in James Bay on the day before the 200th anniversary of Napoleon’s arrival on the island on 15 October 1815.

A ten-day spell in dry dock has been booked for August 2015, and a Christmas voyage to Cape Town is scheduled for the end of the year.

The ship is set to leave Cape Town on its last scheduled voyage, number 241, on 25 March 2016, in the month after the projected opening of the airport.

It appears that there might be further voyages beyond that date, though – including to Tristan da Cunha. Previous trips to St Helena’s sister island have sold out very quickly.

A press release said: “A question had been raised about the possibility of a voyage to Tristan, but the expected demand on berths as a result of airport construction and economic development ruled this out.

“The schedule post airport opening has yet to be confirmed and possible voyages such as this will be considered nearer the time.”

Executive councillors approved the schedule after consultation with various groups on the island.

The last listed voyage, number 241, sees the ship depart Ascension on 3 April 2016, leaving James Bay four days later. It ends in Cape Town on 12 April.

The ship entered service in 1990 after being built by Hall, Russell & Company in Scotland.

Its capacity was extended in 2012 with the addition of 24 extra cabin berths, giving space for 152 passengers.

The ship broke down while heading south from the UK in 1999 and had to put into the French port of Brest for repairs, leaving passengers stranded – including one family who had been heading to the island for a wedding.

The incident intensified the battle to secure an airport for the island, which was left without deliveries of supplies.

  • Executive councillors also approved a “small” rise in passenger and freight tariffs, in line with inflation and a commitment to reduce subsidies.

SEE ALSO:
RMS St Helena lands patient at Walvis Bay and sails on
Last Biscay boogie as ship leaves UK

Whale sharks: St Helena’s biggest tourist attraction?

whale shark by lotus pilgrim on flickr
Encounter with a whale shark, by lotuspilgrim (flickr)

Whale sharks earn tourist dollars for the few places in the world where they make regular visits, and they could even do the same for St Helena.

Now rules are being drawn up to make sure the giant but friendly creatures are not harmed by thrill-seekers.

A few lucky tourists got to swim with visiting whale sharks in early 2013, according to the St Helena Wirebird tourism website.

Wikipedia says the creatures are a cornerstone of eco-tourism in tropical regions where they congregate in predictable, seasonal patterns.

“In Thailand, Belize, Utila, and the Yucatan Peninsula, numerous scuba diving and snorkelling tour operators depend on whale sharks for their livelihood,” says the site.

“Healthy populations of the giant fish draw tens of thousands of visitors, and these travellers contribute substantially to the local economies.”

Growing interest has prompted St Helena’s marine conservation unit to issue “basic interaction guidelines” for anyone given the opportunity to swim with them:

  • Touching or riding whale sharks is strictly prohibited
  • Underwater flash photography is prohibited
  • Swimmers must say at least ten feet away
  • Divers must not “chase after a whale shark in an aggressive manner”

A policy is being drawn up, and the public will be invited to comment.

The guidance note says: “St Helena has been a safe haven for whale sharks for generations and we would like to ensure that we keep it that way.”

For information, contact Elizabeth Clingham or Dr Judith Brown at the marine conservation unit, part of St Helena Government.

READ MORE:
When whale sharks visited St Helena – St Helena Wirebird tourism website
Best destinations for diving with whale sharks – scubadiving.com

Rower Sally heads for islands (the easy way)

Sally Kettle’s friends could not understand why she was nervous about heading out to make a film about St Helena and its sister islands.

After all, she is no stranger to the Atlantic Ocean: she has rowed across it twice.

Sally's adventures are described in a book
Sally’s adventures are described in a book

This time – even with a detour via Tristan da Cunha – the voyage aboard the RMS St Helena promised to be considerably more comfortable. With no shark attacks to worry about.

Maybe the nervousness was something to do with the fact that she only got signed up for the trip – and her first job as a TV presenter – a few days before departure.

She made the admission in a brief chat with St Helena Online, just before joining Governor Mark Capes aboard the RMS for – probably – its last-ever voyage to Tristan da Cunha.

Sally contacted the site in search of advice, and suggestions of people to talk to about Saint culture for the film. “It’s a travelogue looking at life and wildlife on the islands,” she said.

“No – not rowing there this time.”

The island odyssey is but the latest in a series of adventures that have included rowing across the Atlantic twice – the second time, with her mother.

They claimed the record for the fastest crossing by a mother-and-daughter team.

She described one of the crossings on her website:

“We faced horrendous conditions, huge seas, ferocious winds, and rain for a month. We also struggled with injuries, which led to one of the team leaving the boat and disqualifying us from the race. It was an emotional rollercoaster but we pulled together and against the odds (no rudder, a shark attack and a broken water-maker) we still crossed the finish line.

“I’ve never spent so much time in pain! From blisters to sciatica, constant muscle pain to overwhelming exhaustion, I was in pain 24 hours a day. Having said that, we made it across and arrived with smiles on our faces!”

Things were already proving challenging when the shark struck:

“Our rudder was stripped from the back of the boat by a huge wave. We jerried up a rudder with T shirts and a bucket at the end of it. And guess what? A great big shark decided to come and eat it.”

In May 2010, Sally joined the crew of a yacht in the Clipper Round the World Race, sailing between Jamaica and the UK via New York and Nova Scotia. She wrote:

“My own race had it’s fair share of disasters – a dismasting, a grounding, several injuries, a couple a which were very serious – in fact I dislocated a toe and fractured my thumb (off the back end of the Isle of White, how exotic!).”

Sally’s website says she has raised more than half a million pounds for charity.

She travelled to Padang in Sumatra with a response team from the International Shelterbox charity, handing out tents to some of the 250,000 families affected by a devastating earthquake.

She has also retraced the footsteps of WW2 Resistance heroine Nancy Wake in a demanding trek across the Pyrenees too – and yes, she’s taking her walking boots to St Helena.

She broke the news that she had landed her first TV presenting job (“Eeek!”) on the internet messaging site, Twitter, only nine days before setting off.

sally tweet job

sally tweet airportsally tweet scaredSome of Sally’s adventures are related in a book, Sally’s Odd at Sea (“Think Bridget Jones meets Moby Dick”).

As well as writing and presenting, she has qualified as a personal trainer and works as a motivational speaker.

READ MORE: www.sallykettle.com

Cape fights to keep £20 million trade with St Helena

The RMS St Helena is said to bring £20 million worth of business into Cape Town every year – and the city is fighting to keep it, according to MoneyWeb, a South African financial website.

It says the figure comes from the island’s departing economy chief, Julian Morris.

It says the ship has “significant economic value” to the city.

“That includes island supplies, mostly purchased in Cape Town. Islanders also come for advanced medical treatment.

“The total value of the St. Helena to the Cape Town economy might be much more.”

But the site hints that much of that income could be lost when the ship is decommissioned in 2016, with aircraft taking over its passenger service.

The site says the Western Cape’s marketing agency is fighting to keep “all or a large portion” of St Helena’s business.

That has included introducing investors to Governor Mark Capes and his team during their November 2013 visit.

The site sounds an optimistic note:

“The supply chain and services to the fledgling economy need to be established and opportunities abound,” it says.

Now RMS is part of Mantis ’boutique cruise’ fleet

The RMS St Helena gets under way, photographed from Munden's Road on St Helena
The RMS St Helena

The RMS St Helena is to feature as one of the “boutique cruises” promoted by the Mantis Collection, according to the UK-based Travel Mole website.

The site says Mantis has recently signed a deal with St Helena Government to turn Ladder Hill Fort into a five-star hotel. The island’s Sentinel newspaper has since reported that this is incorrect.

Mantis founder Adrian Gardiner, who spent a week on the island, is quoted saying: “We’re extremely excited to be marketing this iconic Royal Mail Ship, one of only two left in the world, as part of our growing portfolio of boutique cruises worldwide.

“This is the first of our exciting steps towards ultimately developing our very own boutique hotel on St Helena island.”

The Mantis Collection is a group of privately-owned hotels and eco lodges.

With thanks to Guy Gatien for passing on this story.

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