The cruise ship MSC Sinfonia has sailed from James Bay after landing passengers on St Helena at the second attempt.
The sea had been deemed to rough to allow them ashore when the ship arrived on the morning of Sunday, 20 January 2013, but the captain negotiated with company bosses to be allowed to remain off the island overnight in the hope of better conditions.
At 06.51 hours on the Monday, Hazel Wilmot of the Consulate Hotel put out word that passengers were about to disembark. “Thank goodness for small mercies,” she said. “Let the fun begin.”
A source said a few people booked to leave the island to travel to Cape Town had been warned to get their luggage to the wharf quickly on the Sunday because the ship was expected to depart early after the decision not to allow landings.
Passengers were said to be “irate” at the decision, which was then reversed. They included friends and relatives of islanders who had booked on the cruise just to spend a single day ashore.
Local boatmen were happy with conditions on the Sunday, but the Sinfonia’s crew were unfamiliar with landing methods at St Helena.
Harbour master Barry Williams told an SHBC radio reporter: “They wanted to hold the tender alongside, just ropes only, but they should be using their engine as well.”
Kerry Yon, of Solomon and Company, said it had been hard work to re-organise Sunday’s aborted sightseeing tours, partly because some buses would be unavailable on a working day.
Three trips to High Knoll Fort were cancelled, but others went ahead. In all, 345 passengers took scenic tours of the island’s interior, 17 enjoyed a specialist tour with Basil George, and 52 had guided walks around Jamestown.
Kerry said: “Yesterday, when I was on board, there were so many disappointed people. There were people with family connections and it was really emotional to see those people, able to see their families sitting in the boat and not able to come ashore.”
She told the SHBC the salvaged shore visits would “put a lot of smiles on people’s faces”.
Hazel Wilmot said she was selling coffee and cakes from early morning. “We must have had 300 to 350 people through the snack bar, judging from sales – some early-bird breakfasts and then tea, coffee and cakes. Sadly, no beer sales, because they had to start wandering back to ship too early.
“All in all, everyone enjoyed their stay.”