Friday, December 29, 2006
I'm so worried about the check in system they've got at Gatwick...
Up at 6, at Gatwick by 8 for a morning of queueing. First 50 minutes were spent waiting to check-in and then 2 hours more in a Peano conga line wrapping around most of the interior space of the terminal. When we located the end of the line, we were told that we were unlikely to reach the security checks before our plane left, so we might as well just wander off and wait for a flight # to be called. As it happened, we got through to the security door during final boarding stages without the flight ever being called. The XL Airways staff at the gate seemed to be of the opinion that this wasn't their fault, and we sat on the runway for another 30-40 minutes waiting for other passengers, who had probably been queueing like us for 3 hours or more.
We touched down in Hurghada, an Egyptian resort town on the Red Sea at about 7.15pm local time, my first ever time on the African continent (aside from transiting through Dubai airport). Our party of 22 from the London School of Diving was met by a pair of buses and we were taken through the rather quiet but brightly-lit streets to the Marriott marina where our live-aboard was moored.
The M.Y. Blue Seas was much larger than I had expected, 38m long with spacious saloons and plenty of room on the rear of the main deck for us to kit up with our diving gear. Chris & I had one of two "luxury" cabins on the top deck.