A ship-shape fi­nale in Den­mark

The Weekend Australian - Travel - - Travel & Indulgence - MICHELLE ROWE

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.

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