Last year when I was visiting my sister in Cape Town during her own Semester at Sea voyage, we didn’t stop sight-seeing the entire six days we were in the Western Cape. This time was different, as I had to work much of the four days there after my weekend away in Langebaan.
Each morning and afternoon, I’d dispatch trips, and in the in-between hours when nothing was leaving, I’d wander down to the V&A Waterfront.
South Africa was a nice change after being docked at the industrial ports of Morocco and Ghana, because unlike our previous two stops, here we actually were situated right in the midst of all the action. Aside from a massive high-end mall, the waterfront is filled with delicious restaurants, luxury yachts, lazy seals lounging on the piers, bustling bars, tour operators with scary advertisements of great white sharks, hotels and even an art installation or two.
Even since I was here in 2010, the waterfront has been further built up—like the addition of the Ferris wheel—thanks to last year’s World Cup games.
Plus, the views of Table Mountain from every which angle aren’t shabby either.
We haven’t been staying in too many hotels while at port as I half expected us to do, mainly because the ship occupies some of the most coveted real estate around in many of the ports we visit. Besides, the M/V Explorer lit up in all her glory isn’t a bad sight to return to each night.
On the last night in town, right before the ship set sail, we all reconvened in Glazer Lounge—the staff and faculty hangout—to catch up after a long week at port. The first night back is always the most fun, as everyone has ample stories to share over a bottle of wine.
But there was a reason that we were all cleaned up and getting together for this particular evening: We had a guest of honor joining us…
Desmond Tutu! The Archbishop Emeritus of Cape Town (and Nobel Peace Laureate) is a beloved member of the Semester at Sea family and sailed as a guest lecturer in 2007 and 2010. We didn’t get the luxury of having him on board for any of the voyage, but at least we all got the opportunity to talk to the distinguished scholar for a spell. I wanted to share with him our common connection—the fact that his daughter lives in Nashville—but I felt a little too stalker-like to do so.
The sunset just beyond Glazer Lounge was magnificent that night, as if ignited by the light that radiated from the Archishop’s grin.
After his inspirational talk to the shipboard community, during which his infectious giggle managed to charm every member on board, he was swarmed by students and eventually ushered back off to his hometown, as the M/V Explorer set sail across a stormy Indian Ocean for the Asian leg of our adventures.