The piece was written in June 2011 when the world’s largest cruise liner briefly moored at the mouth of Deptford Creek.
Three summers ago, after Ryanair had unexpectedly decided to add one final item to the list of “frills” they don’t provide, namely a working aircraft, we ended up stuck at Santiago de Compostela airport for six hours with no food or drink – nothing, in fact, but a creeping suspicion that, if we ever wanted to see England again, we’d need to find our own way out of Galicia. A quick internet trawl revealed that Iberia still had spaces on a flight from Vigo, fifty miles south – just not for another two days.
We’d not had Vigo on our original itinerary. Guidebooks had implied it was, at best, Middlesbrough with a top note of Grimsby. What we found though, was a delight: a solid, working city that knows it can’t compete with A Coruña (not got the beaches) or Santiago (not got the mad pilgrims), so just gets on with doing what it does: fishing, building Citroens, and catering to the earthy needs of frustrated sailors. On our last evening, we climbed the wooded pathways of Parque Charlie Rivel, and watched the sun set over the deep-water cruise terminal far below.
Because that’s the one thing Vigo has got which A Coruña and Santiago haven’t: a deep-water cruise terminal. So when The World – the “largest privately owned yacht on the planet”, according to the brochure – visits north-west Spain, it’s Vigo, not Santiago or A Coruña, that its curious residents (not “passengers” – this boat is their home, and the voyage never stops), with their “endless thirst for knowledge and adventure”, get to “explore with a depth they never before thought possible”.
And when The World comes to England – as it did the other week – they get to do the same to Deptford. Obviously the brochure says “Greenwich”, not “Deptford”, but – until we get the new liner terminal on Enderby Wharf, the only place The World can actually moor round here is the mouth of Deptford Creek.
Still, nothing wrong with that. Deptford is the Vigo to Greenwich’s Santiago de Compostela and, as we’ve already established, Vigo is lovely. Besides, The World leaves nothing to chance: it has a “unique Enrichment Program [which] brings on board experts in all different fields (diving, wine tasting, world cultures)” to prepare residents for each port they visit, so it’s not like they won’t have known what to expect from Manze’s pie shop or the Dog and Bell. And, as the brochure says, residents of The World have a lifestyle they are “truly grateful to live each day”, so they’ll have found plenty to chat about with the locals.
[For more about our adventures in Vigo, see here.]