For the country’s Independence Day celebration, HI-Impact Cruise took selected guests on a cruise in its new sail, Eugene 1, reports Vanessa Obioha
After months of the COVID-19 lockdown that restricted the day-to-day operations of businesses across many industries, HI-Impact Cruise, a subsidiary of Solutions Media and InfoTech Limited (SMIL), hits Lagos coastline with its maiden sail on Thursday, October 1.
The sail was earlier planned for the Easter festivity but the lockdown measures mitigated the plan.
With the easing of lockdown measures in several sectors of the economy last month by the federal and state governments, Chairman of SMIL Adeyanju Lupede, earmarked Nigeria’s Independence Day to mark the momentous occasion.
No doubt, the set date for the launch of the Eugene 1 was glorious. A beast for a ship, the cruise liner lay on turquoise waters, offering a picturesque view of where the blue sky meets with the shimmering sea.
However, this serenity that defined the ship was quite a contrast to what was happening on the docks. Anticipations grew with each arrival of invited guests at the cruise terminal.
The ambience on that bright sunny afternoon was filled with uber-energy and high expectations that come with boarding a cruise liner – in this case, a first for most. With loud music blasting through the atmosphere, each guest had their watches countdown to the moment for boarding.
Impressive at a height of 12 meters with a length spanning 39.15 meters, the interior of the cruise liner is estimated to accommodate about 500 to 700 guests.
But for the purpose of its grand launch and observance of the COVID-19 health guideline, only about one-fourth of its standard capacity were admitted.
As guests waited to embark, a brief introduction of Eugene 1 was made. The ship was originally brought in from Turkey after a 45-day voyage to the banks of the Lagos lagoon. Safety lessons on donning the life jacket were also projected on a large LED screen. Two lifeboats were placed on standby for emergencies.
Prerequisite for admission, all COVID-19 health guidelines were observed: strict measures were employed to ensure that each guest was thoroughly sanitized and temperature checked.
Also, face masks were handed out to avoid any excuses that may lead to turning guests back. All air-conditioning units were turned off with windows ajar to ensure proper ventilation.
Marked with a convivial ambience, Lupede and a handful of staff and guests gathered around a miniature cake of the Eugene 1. They all stood in awe of the piece of the edible masterpiece that mirrored the ship they have been primed to set sail on.
In an orderly manner, guests made it onto the ship using tags that matched sitting arrangements. They were greeted to a banquet-style hall that readily accommodates about 220 guests in one take at the ground level.
The capacious area also boasts a stage, a bar, and restrooms. The second deck is a mezzanine balcony that does not seclude guests from activities happening below. Both levels are linked internally by a straight stair.
The topmost deck on the other hand is a stark contrast from the first two decks. Its alfresco nature is home for the wild and free who seek to explore the outdoors and view the beautiful structures and landmarks that dot the Lagos shorelines.
A three-hour packed experience, it was a first for most guests who openly inquired what feelings might overwhelm them as the engines kept revving at full throttle. But only a few noticed when the ship finally set sail.
They were enthralled by the performance of the live band whose soloists performed popular tunes of international music stars like Alicia Keys and the late Whitney Houston. Not a few chorused alongside the female vocalist.
It was not an entire sing-along affair. The party kicked off just right after the main course with more music and games.
Of course, it was a dream come through for most persons who have always fantasized about leading a chic lifestyle on the backdrop of a cruise liner. Thus, their gleeful expressions affirmed Lupede’s vision of positioning HI-Impact Cruise as an affordable and accessible experience.
“The HI-Impact Cruise is brought in to encourage Nigerians to stay at home, and not go to Dubai or Paris, or anywhere in Europe to cruise for a day. We ensured that all the facilities to make guests comfortable are available. In terms of entertainment, there will be good food and a conducive, well air-conditioned environment.”
But like every good thing, the three-hour adventure came to an end, and as expected, the disposition of most guests hints unwillingness to disembark. Nevertheless, they have mementos to relish their time spent on board Eugene 1.