Miscellaneous Ramblings by Tony Clegg Butt of Travel News – November 2013

Posted on November 7th, 2013
Categories: News







The atrocity of Westgate left us all in shock. It was a heinous crime of the very worst kind. Most of us folk who live in Kenya knew someone affected in one way or another, and you must have shared with me the sense of abject helplessness which was overshadowed at least in my case by anger.

How can people – any people – no matter what their grievances or their religious beliefs, do this to innocents? Killing people in the name of God, any God, goes against the teachings of all religions.

Against this backdrop and only a week or so after Westgate, I travelled to New York to present a bid to host a global travel and tourism conference here in Kenya in 2015. I found extraordinary energy during my presentation, which was more about international terrorism than the actual bid itself.

Kenya had been short-listed in a group of five countries – Italy, Turkey, Norway and a combined bid from Brasil and Argentina. We made it to the final with Norway.

We won by a two-thirds majority.

This showed the global travel and tourism industry standing united against terrorism and as importantly standing with Kenya in its hour of need.

Quite what I said and how I said it I have no clear recollection. I guess I’ll have to wait for the movie.

Folk noticed what I said came straight from the heart, which is worrying.

This year’s conference was not really in New York, but it did begin and end there. It was held on a cruise ship – a hulk of a thing carrying 3,000 passengers plus 1,000 odd crew.

Getting on and off the beast was excruciating, I have never seen so many wheelchairs, electric carts and folks with serious mobility issues, all it appeared suffering from the same ailment – obesity.

Aside from the odd port-of-call, the only thing people did on this cruise was eat.

Crikey, the plates they gave you for the breakfast and lunch buffet were serving platters not plates. Huge bloody great plastic things! The lines moved at a snail’s pace, because everyone had to have everything, with large people piling on huge helpings of just about everything. A lady at breakfast one day took the cake – imagine this…

A large plate (or platter, whatever), add a mountain of bacon, six large link sausages, another mountain of fried potatoes, another mountain of baked beans and another of tomato.

I’m so appalled I’m calling friends around me over to see this. She then gets to the egg and omelette station – takes a boiled egg, then another, then another and then, blow me down, orders an omelette with the works.

People eating soft-serve ice cream cones at breakfast, a 24-hour pizzeria, and 24-hour room service – a burger joint, a Mexican joint – good food, no doubt, but the quantities people helped themselves to was indecent.

The formal evening dining experience was the only culinary highlight without paying a surcharge to upgrade to a brilliant steak house.

I remember one day saying to myself, and I’d have never ever thought of saying this pre-cruise or at any other time ever: ‘no fried foods today’. No challenge whatsoever, with an under-populated, massive and virtually unscathed salad bar, it was a breeze.

The ship had many bars, cabaret lounges and nightclubs – all mostly deserted. It seems you eat a lot, you sleep a lot,  or maybe the electric buggies needed charging.

Cynical I was and am, but I can assure you, dear reader, that there is no cruise of any kind on my bucket list; never was, actually.

The cruise made four ports-of-call at Boston, Portland ME, Saint Johns NB, and Halifax. The first two ports I was otherwise engaged, attending said conference. Saint Johns was great in that the cruise ship moored right in the middle of town; the only problem was that three other tubs also moored there. Picture if you will a small town with over 12,000 day visitors – ‘twas not a pretty sight.

The main reason for disembarkation for most was that the onboard Internet on our tub and apparently all the other tubs was prohibitively expensive and very slow. Double jeopardy, if you will. Saint Johns downtown Internet capability melted under the onslaught. Halifax the next day, I stayed onboard and had the run of the ship almost to myself – bliss.

Visiting  friends  in Washington D.C. afterwards was great therapy in appreciating all the great and the good that is the US of A.

Catching up with them was seamless as all friendships should be, but getting home was the best thing ever.

To read this month’s Travel News click on the magazine cover:  tn nov