When I received my Schengen Visa on my way to Norway, I set my mind on giving my assignment the best I could as well as making maximum use of my Visa. With Schengen Visa, it means travelling between its 15 European member countries is much easier and less bureaucratic. This simply means I can travel to any European member countries using one single visa, thus avoiding the hassle and expense of obtaining individual visas for each country.
So with this in mind, I clearly have set objectives to visit at least 5 to 8 countries before my assignment is over. So this weekend, I managed to cruise my way to Denmark on a trip that I could best describe as a lifetime experience. It all started at the Norwegian Broadcasting Corporation, NRK as we discussed about things we liked and happened to mention that I love perfumes and shoes. One of my colleagues said, “that makes the two of us” and he went to tell me how I can buy designer perfumes at cheaper prices. “Just get a cruise ship trip to Denmark and within your trip ensure you visit the tax-free shop, you will get all the latest perfumes at reasonable prices. That´s where I make my purchases. You can also buy chocolates, jewellery and so many things you will find in that cruise ship.”
Convinced about this, I managed to gather my friends and stressed why we needed to go to Denmark for a weekend. Lucky enough they accepted and here we were paying for our tickets to Denmark. On Saturday morning, we were set to go and minutes before 8am, we were at the Kristiansand Color Line reception ready for check in. Color Line is Norway´s largest and one of European cruise and transport shipping company, representing more than 100 years of continuous line of traffic between Norway and Europe.
I gather that we will cruise on a M/S Super Speed 1 which has the capacity to carry nearly 1900 guests, car space for up to 764 cars and 117 trucks. With 211,3 meter length and 26 meter width, the ship has 11 decks each holding different sections. At exactly 8am, the entrance doors are closed and a departure announcement is made in Norsk, and later translated in English.
Touring the Boat
It takes 3 hours, 45 minutes to be in Hirtshals Denmark so we decide to start our tour as soon as possible, heading form one deck to another, trying to figure out what happens in each deck. The sitting arrangement is selected according to your reservations. There are three categories:
Catch me if you can– A Buffet Restaurant on deck 8 with Nordic food and a children’s buffet. Soft drinks, beer, wine and coffee are included. No beer and wine for breakfast.
Business Class– A comfortable lounge with comfortable seats on deck 8. Here you have access to television and Internet. Coffee, fruit, mineral water and daily newspapers are included. You can buy food from other restaurants within the Ship.
Then there is the Voyager Class– This is a large lounge with very comfortable seat, with a TV screen placed in the back of the seat, in front of you. Great experience indeed.
So after touring the various seating areas, we finally land to this restaurant they call ” Fly Me To The Moon ” which is located on deck 8. A variety of delicacies are found here, pizza, pasta, fresh-baked goods, salads and vegetable dishes, exciting, hot dishes and various selection of cakes and desserts. Coffee drinks, soft drinks, juice, wine and beer are available. So we make our selection and we decide to eat before we could progress to other decks.
30 mins later our tour continues and we head to the place I have been waiting most, the Tax Free market so that I can set my eyes on the perfumes I have been longing for. We are half way to our destination and the weather seems to be having a rough toll on us. I experience dizziness and I struggle to walk downstairs. I realise it´s not just me, as the rest of the passengers too are finding it hard to keep walking. So we all stager to our destinations.
Tax free Market
Hard as it seems, my colleagues and I, finally make it to the Tax Free market. Quite a busy area, probably the busiest. There is the Color Shop which sells, electronics, music, film, cameras, watches, children clothing, jewelry and various tourist products.
Fashion Shop– labeled as the place for the fashion conscious man and woman. It is known for popular brands of clothes, underwear, jewelry, watches and other accessories. It said you can save huge amounts for very expensive brands.
Then the Perfumes and Cosmetics Shop. Here you will find a wide variety of updated designer brands from exclusive perfume manufacturers, with fragrances for him and her, in addition to cosmetics and creams. Because this was my main point, I stop here to make my selection carefully. But the weather is not favorable. I feel so dizzy and unable to focus. I can´t see straight. We are experiencing terrible waves and tides and everyone is complaining. The ship is shaky.
I can´t go back to my sitting area, and there is nowhere to sit in this shop. The staff seem to be familiar with this experience as they go about their normal duties despite the bad conditions. I am scared but I lock my mind from bad imagination. Scenes of Titanic movie cross my head. I think of where home is from this area, but I am happy that I am carrying with me my passport and therefore in case of anything then I am hope they will be able to locate me. It gets worse and head to the cashier to make my purchase, and oops!! I can’t hold it anymore, I need to throw up.
“Where is the washroom, kindly put this for me, I need to help myself out.” I ask. She directs me as I try to find my way out. As I head to the washroom, a security guy comes after me and tells me, “It’s ok, use this, you will be fine.” He hands me a white pack which I later gather that they are placed on all the decks to assist people who experience this. I help myself and head to the toilets. Here, I find not less than 10 people, all throwing up. I try to secure myself a tap so as to wash my face but I am unable to use the taps.
Ok, how do I help myself? I try to see how it´s done and later I notice that the taps are sensor taps. You have to position your hands in a way that the taps can detect or sensor your presence, how, I still do not understand but I manage to do it anyway.
The toilets are so clean and two ladies are seated on the floor feeling miserable just like me. While trying to come to terms with what is happening, an announcement is made, it´s been noted that the ship is experiencing really bad weather, great tides and waves, however as we approach the Coastal Denmark, then there is hope to have it calm down. Of course this is beyond anyone´s control.
I therefore seek 30 minutes at the washroom, watching the tides from a closed window and despite being in deck 7, I can see the water hitting the toilet windows. I imagine, this could be really bad and I get worried.
When I manage to calm myself down, I head back to the cosmetic shop, make my purchase and finally secure myself a space to sleep, joining miserable people like me sleeping on the tables and the available coaches. I can´t wait to get to Denmark, I am so fed up with this whole experience. I manage to take a nap and 3o minutes later, I hear another announcement that we have managed to safely get to Denmark and of course thanking us for traveling by Color Line cruise ship.
We all gather towards the exit and Denmark looks so cold, worse than Norway. As we head out, I reach for this G4S security guy and ask him a few questions. He tells me he has been working for the cruise ship for the past 4 years and he enjoys his work.
“Has it always been this bad and how do you manage to overcome this,” I ask?
“Today’s experience was not all bad, we get worse times, especially during winter season and sometimes we are forced to cancel our schedule. You suffered what we call sea sickness, it happens when there are extreme waves and tides and most people suffer from this. If you noticed we have these white sort of envelopes placed everywhere, because most passengers experience dizziness and vomiting. We are used to it and we help them out. Next time, you need to buy sea sickness tablets, they are readily available at the chemists and you can get them at the reception as you board,” he explained.
Ok, my trip to Denmark was an experience worth remembering and as I came back, you can be assured was more prepared and ready to cope. I managed to continue with my shopping, and of course chocolates and perfumes were my best purchase!! I will definitely go back, this time though having taken sea sickness tablets.
Do have a blessed week ahead!!