A ship-shape finale in Denmark
IT’S not what I have in mind for myfinal hours in Copenhagen, home to the world’s most-talked-about restaurant, cutting-edge design stores and those architectural landmarks that often appear as the backdrops to award-winning television dramas.
But myhusband is rushing methrough a seemingly immoveable crowd towards a gleaming, metal giant far in the distance on the Danish capital’s twinkling harbour. It could be an ocean-going passenger liner, but as we get closer the depressing reality dawns. The world’s largest container ship is in port and myother half, a devotee of such Discovery Channel delights as Mighty Ships and Extreme Engineering, wants to get on board.
Seafaring is in Denmark’s DNA, from the Vikings whoraided and traded their way around the North Atlantic to the corporate shipping giants whomadethe nation’s fortunes in later years.
The Danes are water-loving people; canals and lakes crisscross Copenhagen and it should be no surprise to find this 400m-long, 59m-wide, 73m-high metal monster parked a few metres down from the famous statue of the Little Mermaid.
Majestic Maersk is docked for its official naming ceremony (to be carried out by the Crown Princess of Denmark, the former Mary Donaldson) and, as part of the celebrations, its gangways have been lowered and the public invited on board.
Over the next five days, more than 42,000 people will inspect the vessel’s nooks and crannies, from its cramped staff quarters to the hi-tech bridge where the captain oversees the seemingly impossible task of sailing this behemoth loaded with 18,000 cargo containers, which look the size of ants on the decks far below.
I have a well-developed fear of heights and climbing to the top of Majestic Maersk feels as if I could be scaling Everest. Sixteen flights of external metal steps soar to the clouds; each seems more rickety and exposed than the last. Vertigo sets in around level three and I amcursing like a drunken sailor.
Myhusband has form for these sorts of shenanigans. Onatrip to Florence more than a decade ago, he dragged mekicking and screaming from the myriad leather stalls in the central market so we could clamber up a thin, stone staircase to the terrifying apex of the city’s duomo.
By the time we reached the top, myfury was so great I failed to notice him feretting around in his backpack for a tiny box containing a sparkling engagement ring.
So as we climb this hulking freighter in Copenhagen, I wonder howhe might beat that particular stroke of genius.
Finally we peer down from the ship’s topmost level to see the city of Copenhagen stretching before us. It’s a magnificent 360-degree panorama I’d never have experienced had it not been for this unscheduled diversion. Sometimes the most unexpected experiences can enrich a holiday.
Susan Kurosawa is on assignment.