The start. Where it began. Before 4pm I and a small group of other Australians, dragging our luggage, tramped across the highway into the port and towards our ship. I was trying to put a lid on my brimming excitement. There was the ship (see photo below)– not the one in the foreground 😊. I was about to embark on a great adventure to the south.The wharf side greeting from all manner of Le Lyrial staff was overwhelmingly inclusive and a great show of top-level customer service. I handed over my luggage to porters.
Onto the ship, and I was handed a cabin card, led up to and shown into my room within a blink of an eye.
So smooth, effortless and pleasing. Luxury oozed from every pore. Not a mark on walls or furniture. No signs of the slightest wear or tear. Pristine. Spacious. Extraordinary.
I had a quick look around the ship to begin to familiarise myself with my new home for the next 15 days. Then I went outdoors again, onto the decks.
Looking out I saw that Uruguay hosts a ship graveyard. It seemed to me that a great deal of valuable metal was sitting there waiting to be collected, but I couldn’t see any activity.At a certain point before sundown, I felt compelled to accept the ship’s offer of a free glass of sparkling wine and chatted with others as they arrived. I met some members of a team of 15 amateur photographers from the USA; some had won international awards for their photographs. They were all excited about what might be seen when we reach South Georgia Island (our first land after four days at sea).
A Welcome on Board program was waiting for me in my cabin on arrival; a new version was provided from then on as a daily program of scheduled activities. Nevertheless, when the Expedition Team were introduced to us we were warned that the program might change depending on the weather, icebergs, or other factors as determined by the Captain in association with the Expedition Leader.
We sat through the briefing ‘life on board’ and then learnt about the security and safety procedures before following a mandatory life boat drill. This included returning to our cabins and donning our safety jackets, after which we were checked to be sure we had tied ourselves in appropriately.
Finally, the ship pulled away from the wharf and we were sailing just after sunset. I cannot convey how excited I felt. How privileged. How fortunate. I guess my inner voice over all the years has been ‘Helen from little Burnie steps out into the great wide world, and she is apprehensive’. Despite being much travelled that inner voice persisted. I wondered whether this will be the last time I step out and push myself into the constant problem-solving situation which is the ‘work’ of travelling independently.Gradually Le Lyrial was cruising out into the river and then into the sea, and Montevideo was over there getting smaller. Finally, I am on board and can see Montevideo receding into the distance as we head south for “The Great Adventure”.
I ate at the upper restaurant buffet – and enjoyed a plate of salads and cooked vegetables. In the pleasant company of Sue and David and other new friends to be. With all the sea air of the day, and the energy expended in anticipation of this experience, I was exhausted, enjoyed my spacious private shower, and dropped into bed by 9pm. Slept like a log.