Wednesday, July 20, 2016

Final Chance to Voyage Aboard an Iconic Merchant Vessel

Stay of Execution for One of the Last Royal Mail Ships
Shipping News Feature
ST HELENA – ASCENSION ISLAND – SOUTH AFRICA – Having written up full details of the sale of the RMS St Helena in April as she was withdrawn from service it seems such plans were a little premature. Travellers are being advised to act fast to enjoy one of the final chances to sail on board one of the last working Royal Mail Ships in the world after her retirement was postponed until 1 July 2017.

The RMS St Helena marked 26 years of service last month with a farewell visit to London where she was visited by a number of past passengers, including the Princess Royal who was guest of honour at a reception on the ship where she thanked the crew for their many years of service. Currently the RMS St Helena is the only regular means of access to the UK Overseas Territory of St Helena, and has been granted a year’s grace whilst islanders await the start of commercial flights to the newly built St Helena Airport which we had been advised was to open last month.

The RMS passenger and freight service will continue to operate between Cape Town, St Helena and Ascension Island with the extended schedule now officially confirmed. Seen by many as an integral part of a visit to St Helena, the voyage takes five days by sea from Cape Town and three days from Ascension, and affords the opportunity for passengers to embrace a slower pace and become immersed in island life before stepping foot on the rocky outcrop.

The extension of the RMS St Helena service also allows the island more flexible planning as it prepares for the introduction of commercial flights to the island. Currently the airport is open for private flights and medical evacuation services. Director of Tourism, Chris Pickard welcomed the announcement, saying:

“This is very positive news both for Saints and for tourists, who can now continue to plan to visit our beautiful, remote island. It also provides the opportunity for anyone who felt they had missed out on experiencing life on board the RMS St Helena to seize one of these last chances to do so. But don’t delay, due to her popularity, which was reflected in the recent visit to London, we’re expecting berths to be in high demand.”

A return voyage from Cape Town to St Helena (10 days at sea) for a shared 2-berth cabin on A Deck starts from £2,228 per person (excluding flights ex UK). Bookings are now open via the RMS St Helena website or through leading UK tour operators.