Thursday, 3 August 2017
ASTORIA 9th March 2017, Part 3 the final one
Saturday 11th March 2017
Today we are due in Antwerp, Belgium, and of course we have to leave the North Sea, enter the Westerschelde Estuary and then sail along the River Scheldt to reach this huge city. We are due in at 9 a.m. and once again there were problems with the gangway so our disembarkation was later than planned.
Today many of us will visit the Red Star Line Museum, which is located along the riverside and well worth a visit. The exhibition, on several floors, is based on the almost 3 million people who emigrated to America (New York and Philadelphia) using this historic shipping line from Antwerp. Many of the passengers were fleeing from Eastern Europe, sailing from Antwerp, Southampton and Liverpool, to what they hoped would be a new life. The exhibits that we saw were often heart-breaking, especially to those of us who appreciate our freedom nowadays. The Line was started in 1873 and was in service until 1935. There was an interesting cutaway model of one ship, the BELGENLAND, but many of the exhibits were very personal to the passengers and had been donated to this museum, which opened in 2013.
Back in the medieval city outside the Museum it was time to find somewhere for lunch and recover the emotional balance of the day.
I walked back to the ship and then stood on the terrace of the viewing platform nearby to take stern photos of ASTORIA. I wanted a bow picture as well so chose to walk along the cobbled quayside for that, before getting back on board.
There was time for more photos before afternoon tea, and the chance to discuss what we had all done today. We are due to sail at 6 p.m. but some passengers were still missing so we were late leaving, and I had time to pack my few belongings and prepare for drinks and dinner on our last evening on board ASTORIA. We are a group of friends with a love of ships in common, and it was fascinating to hear what other interests we all had.
Ships seen: Astoria, riverboat Verdi, tug Fairplay III, West-Hinder with a red hull, Belgenland the cutaway model in the Red Star Museum
Sunday 12th March 2017
Overnight we sailed back to Tilbury and this morning after breakfast we had to disembark from ASTORIA and get home.
Public transport was reliable until of course Southern Rail had to be used. Ah yes, it's a Sunday so this meant replacement buses for part of my journey.
I had really enjoyed my little trip on ASTORIA, with a delightful group of people, and would recommend trying this ship with Cruise & Maritime Voyages.