Getting to St Helena on the RMS St Helena
At this stage of the game there is only one sure way to get to the island of St Helena in the South Atlantic and that is via the RMS St Helena – the only exception is if you come via private yacht!
The five days it takes from Cape Town on this, the only remaining Royal Mail vessel, is one of the reasons people embark on this voyage to St Helena. On the other hand, the five days on the water is also one of the reasons we do not see the visitor numbers to the island that beauty and splendour of St Helena should rightly attract.
Be that it as it may, travelling on board the RMS is, to my mind, one of the finest ways of travelling. There are no security lines where you have to take off everything – from shoes to belts and jackets. No squeezing into a tight space for sleepless hours, unless you knock yourself out with some chemical aid. Just the gentle humming of the engines as you travel at a civilized speed of up to 15 nautical miles per hour, gently rocking you to sleep.
On Board the RMS you are not just another number, but become part of a family. Various activities (some unashamedly harking back to the halcyon days of the Union Castle Line), cocktail parties and barbeques on deck let you take in the bracing ocean air as you mix and mingle with a variety of travellers – including many of the St Helenians (or Saints) for whom the RMS is a lifeline. The five days gives you ample down time for some soul searching, or simply staring into the miles and miles of blue ocean around you. If you are more energetic you can partake in the on-board cricket game or workout in the gym to burn off the 5-course meals. For some mental exercise, the quiz is great fun.
And then, after 5 days at sea, St Helena shows herself – rising majestically out of the Atlantic Ocean. A palpable excitement ripples throughout the RMS – we have arrived!
A big thank you to St Helena’s Director of Tourism, Cathy Alberts, for writing this post for the St Helena Wirebird Blog.