Once the monsoonal rains had stopped we left the Hotel Nemo to head out to the dock and into the hands of Grimaldi .
Luckily there seemed to be no early morning flights and the first i heard of a low flying aircraft was at about 8 a.m. I had no idea that the airport is so near the dock but it makes sense as Brindisi was the hub for B.O.A.C.s flying boats in the 1930s . The runway threshold is 900 metres from the hotel and they are low as they come in on approach.
No zoom on this and the Captain waved and smiled as I took his photo.
Now I had read all the reviews and knew that Grimaldi were not one of the great ferry operators. But just how bad could they be ? Hmmm.
Check in was a doddle to be fair. not a soul there and 4 guys doing check in. The first sent us to the second window, who in turn sent us to the third who pointed out the fourth. But once there the tickets were done and our club class seats printed. They weren’t together as the ” computer” doesn’t do that- see the purser he will sort it out. Ho Ho.
At 11 a.m. down towards the ship and into a queue. With no cars in sight just trucks I did an “Italian” and roared past everything. An official looking guy leaped out and stopped us but after gesticulating at us for a few minutes gave up and waived the Suzuki on.
Quickly the car line was called forward to park near the ship. Not long now I said. With that the two crew guys in charge of loading called all the lorry line down and proceeded to load them all before us. Not quite P&O Ferries and the boarding takes so long. Grimaldi on the Channel crossing would manage just 3 sailings a day.
After an hour of watching trucks being pushed into different lines the cars were called to board. Most were Rumanian and Bulgarian registrations but about 30 were Italian and mindful that the Italian Grand Prix was the next day tried to overtake everyone to get to the ramp first. Most succeeded but things come to he who waits my grandmother always said.
The car deck on Grimaldi is a Cul de Sac .The first cars onto the deck are parked nose in to the dead end. The remainder end up parked where they can turn to get back down the ramp.
For once not being an Italian driver paid off.
The ship actually left on time and we found the club seats but the Purser’s office had a big sign on the door. Forbidden Access. So much for sorting out the seats. An American family were in the same boat seat-wise as were some Italians behind us. There were just 9 of us in the cabin when the ship cast off. So we all sat where we wanted to .
However outside the calm of the club lounge chaos was brewing. It had started to rain again and so the deck space was a no go area and the public rooms were packed.
More and more people started to form groups and start search parties to find seats. 40 odd empty Club Seats were a natural target and soon our cabin was full of screaming children and Romanian gypsies .
Amazingly the Italian family went to get help and I followed. the purser had ventured out from his hole and was understanding. Shocking he said maybe I will come and see the problem and ask for their tickets he threatened Oh yes if I do that they will all have to go they will be fuori ( outside toot sweet or the italian equivalent). Yes he reaffirmed maybe I will but hmm maybe I won’t . Romaneys you say. They are not nice. I will think about it.
He never came and the mugs who had paid ( us) were just pleased that it was not an overnight sailing.
The ” sealed ” car deck was porous all trip with people visiting their cars and getting more food etc. The Americans went to the buffet and came back to tell us it was the worst meal they had ever eaten so we were pleased ot have had the panini from the Nemo.
An hour before docking everyone was in their cars jockeying for the off and the 30 Italians were fuming in the cul de sac. Once docked I did a three pointer and was about number 15 off the ship.
We docked at 10.15 p.m. and at 11 p.m. after checking in to the really nice Hotel Astoria we were sitting by the sea enjoying a Fix beer and awaiting a big plate of Mousaka.
Grimaldi were grim but not disastrous. However August must be horrendous.