I can honestly say that I had no idea how many ways one can fly to Las Palmas! Because of the dreadful weather in the UK (deep snow over most of the country), subsequently most of the UK's airports were either closed or so crowded with a backlog of passengers, that a lot of the joining crew were held up in transit or unable to get flights out!!
Our own story (and it seems we were pretty lucky) was that we had a flight booked from Gatwick to Las Palmas direct, at 1400hrs on December 1st 2010, which was cancelled when we got to the airport. On the internet, earlier in the day it said that our flight was still OK to leave, so naturally we assumed we'd be off!!!! (We had booked a flight two days ahead of our arrival time at the ship because of previous problems earlier in the year associated with the Icelandic volcano!!).
Easy Jet then informed us, that we wouldn't get a flight until the following Saturday (4th December)....IF the snow cleared! In desperation, we were quoted £970 each by BA/Iberia for a flight to Las Palmas via Madrid....lucky we didn't take that as all the staff at Madrid Airport walked out and the Spanish Army had to be called in to 'quell' the situation. Eventually, (after talking to those lovely people at JST's HQ!) we were put in touch with another voyage crew member, Simon Muddimer, who was also in a similar situation. He happened to work for Thomas Cook and had found some spare seats on a flight from Birmingham to Lanzarotte then a short 45 minute hop to Las Palmas. We dashed from Gatwick up to Birmingham by train, stayed overnight with friends, then got to the airport (which by luck was still open at that time!) and catch the flight to Arricife where we met Simon.....our hero of the hour! With him was Margaret, another joining 'Tenacious' crew member rescued at the last minute by Simon.....we all owed him lots of beers!! Suffice to say we arrived in Lanzarotte, transfered to the inter-island flight and arrived at Las palmas, jaded, tired and ready for a good nights sleep in the hotel we'd booked earlier in the year. This being our first long haul sail with the JST (we'd done a day-sail last year in the Solent....great fun!!) we thought we might miss the boat, but 'Tenacious' was there at the quayside waiting to welcome us aboard!! (by the way, we're still tied to the quay at present (6th December!) waiting for the last few crew members to arrive from the snow bound UK!).
Having met other voyage crew on board they had similar tales to tell and it is a measure of their tenacity (good name for a ship!), that they managed to get here, overcoming so many obstacles put before them. Many had stayed in airport lounges sleeping on floors or had travelled to distant airports to get here.....but it is all worth it! We've now had an extra three days in Las Palmas and got to know our way around. The ship's permanent crew have been great and aided all those who have tramped airport lounges of the many UK airports when flights have been cancelled. Chef Graham and his very able aid, Jane, have produced great food and the crew's hospitality has certainly made this a voyage to remember.....and all we've done so far is change berths at the quayside in Las Palmas!!!!!!
Here's to fair winds and hot sun on the way across to Antigua! Anything has to be better than cold, snow bound UK airports!!!
Written by Tim Deacon Aft/Port Watch 06/12/10