Have you ever spent 24 hours without blinking? The day you try it, you will realise that staying awake for 12 hours and sleeping off the rest means you miss a lot.***image1***
That was the experience I had on the weekend when I spent 24 hours cruising on the Baltic Sea, on a ferry which is reportedly bigger than The Titanic. This was during my short stay in SwedenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s capital of Stockholm.
I have seen many unique features - including the agricultural landscape on the island of Oland, popular for its geological and geographical features, the mining area of the great copper mountain in Falun, and the naval port of Karlskrona.
I have also seen the rock carvings in Tanumshede and SÃƒÂ¶dra LÃƒÂ¤nken tunnel, arguably the longest in Europe, measuring 12km, but I have not seen anything compared to the Viking Cinderella Ferry.
As you move towards the Baltic Sea, located in the centre of Stockholm, you are immediately, almost forcibly, overwhelmed by the site of the magnificent and gigantic Cinderella, built in 1989 by Wartsila Turku Shipyard, Finland.
Its height measures 191 metres and the architecture is uniquely splendid and quite gorgeous. One can complete the 24 hours delightful cruise from Slussen (Stockholm) to the main destination of Mariehamn Islands, Finland, without realising it. This is because of the endless exciting adventures on the ship.
Imagine a 12 floors ship with the capacity to accommodate 2560 passengers, with 2500 beds! Each cabin contains four beds, fully self-contained with a television set.
This ferry boasts of almost everything ranging from delectable guest houses and restaurants with mouth-watering dishes to the day and nightclubs with blaring discotheques.
Other unique features on this ship, which carries 46398 tonnes, include a hydraulic platform that can be lowered to divide the car deck in two, giving space for two layers of passenger cars, A and B-class cabins, crew accommodations, swimming pools, jacuzzis, to mention a few.
It also has Admiral HornblowerÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s Pub, a sea side cafÃƒÂ©, a coffee bar, childrenÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s play room, conference rooms, game arcade, tax free supermarket, Club Seven discotheque, a beauty shop, Viking buffet food garden, a sea food marseille, banquet restaurants, tapas, and a grill wine bar and casino fun club.
The A and B-class cabin suites located on the 12th floor are rented at 1500 kronor (Shs380,000) while charges for the first floor are 75 kronor (Shs20,000). ***image2***
I am at the balcony of the ninth floor in room 9235 where I sleep. There is classic piped music and a theatre which appeals mainly to aged people. In the morning I moved down the seventh floor to Club Seven where I tried my dancing skills. Of course I would be asking for too much to expect the music of Bobi Wine, Chameleone or Bebe Cool, so I had to adjust to Swedish music, which is so fast paced.
While asleep in your cabin, you canÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t realise that you are on a ferry until you are interrupted by someone announcing the 7-9a.m breakfast through speakers at the Buffet Restaurant.
The ferry is a town of its own. Cinderella may be bigger than The Titanic, whose capacity was 2,200 passengers, but it is ranked 16th among EuropeÃ¢â‚¬â„¢s largest ferries. Color Magic from Norway is the biggest with a length of 22,370 metres, and a tonnage of 75100. It carries 2700 passengers, has 1016 cabins, and accommodates 550 cars in its car deck. Ã¢â‚¬Å“Another difference is that Cinderella uses a motor engine (petroleum) while The Titanic used steam engine,Ã¢â‚¬Â� Heikki Jorban, a receptionist at Cinderella said.
Color Fantasy, also from Norway, is the second largest in Europe with a length of 22,370 metres and a tonnage of 74,027. It carries 2750 passengers, 50 more than the biggest ship, and has a parking capacity of 750 cars. Others in that order are Pride of Rotterdam, Pride of Hull, Silja Europa, Silja Symphony, Silja Serenade, Stena Britannica, Cruise Roma, Cruise Barcelona, Ulysses, La Suprema, La Superba, Galaxy and Baltic Princess before Viking Cinderella comes in as number 16.
I left my residence in Husby at 4p.m on Tuesday in company of three boxers from Pro Box Scandinavia Group - Hassan Ã¢â‚¬Å“HitmanÃ¢â‚¬Â� Ssaku, Peter Ã¢â‚¬Å“Boyz BoyzÃ¢â‚¬Â� Ssemwogerere, Abdul Ã¢â‚¬Å“CobraÃ¢â‚¬Â� Tebazalwa and their manager, Eddie Basajjabazira, heading for the ferry.
After negotiating traffic jam for an hour, we finally got to Slussen and booked. It took us 15 minutes walking on the lane to enter this gigantic ferry. And 6:30p.m we set off, slept on the way to Finland and by 3.30p.m the next day, we were back in Stockholm.
The Luganda adage - Atanayitayita yatenda nyina okufumba (meaning if you have not had much exposure you would think your mother is the best cook) - could not be truer of my experience on Cinderella.