When I got an email on 22 December, 2017 from Jedidah Promotions inviting me to a boat cruise and dinner sponsored by Ethiopian Airlines, my heart 'jumped up' in excitement. And when in the afternoon of 24 December, 2017, I got a text message from Jedidah Promotions informing me that the boat cruise had been cancelled, my reaction was just the opposite of what it had been just two days earlier. I wasn't just disappointed and sad, I felt that something enormously pleasurable had been taken away from me. Ethiopian Airlines and Jedidah Promotions had conspired to raise my hope of exploring the waters only to dash it a couple of days later. Well, they did make up for the disappointment but not until after two months. The boat cruise finally happened on Sunday 4 March, 2018.
Full of expectations, I arrived PrestCruiseWaterFront Hotel, Admiralty Road, Lekki Phase 1, Lagos, at 5:45pm to a cool and breezy early evening ambience. The atmosphere was being charged and the already-arrived guests being put into the mood by a performing live band. With a lot of jazzy effusion, the music was mature and good to the ears, especially to those who love jazz and instruments. Strictly speaking, I don't have phobias for water and water bodies but at the same time, I have never really been a water person.
The Prest Cruise WaterFront Hotel is located on the scenic and serene bank of the Five Cowrie Creek River. So for me, the breathtaking and unending view of the Lekki bay from my seat, was particularly an exhilarating sight to behold. The bay joins the Five Cowrie Creek which stretches and empties into the Lagos Harbour Channel which in turn empties into the Atlantic Ocean. The excitement had already started to build up at this time.
The evening ceremony had been scheduled to start by 5:30pm following which the boat would depart at 6pm. But due to reasons I assumed were related to logistics, the boat cruise didn't start until 1 hour 15 minutes after I had arrived. But the wait was worth it. Boarding started by 7pm on the dot. For safety reasons, each and every guest was made to put on the life vest before stepping out of the lounge and onto the platform that led to the boat.
On stepping into the boat, the guests were greeted by a well laid out cabin and already set dinner tables, while the onboard DJ was dishing out some cool vibes. Shortly after we had settled down on our seats, the boat engines roared to life at 7:15 pm with Captain Omotoya at the controls. And off we sailed.
Just before the boat cruise gathered momentum, Mrs Firiehiwot Mekonen, the unassuming and amiable General Manager, Ethiopian Airlines, Nigeria walked from one table to the other, accompanied by Ikechi Uko, and personally greeted and appreciated each guest with warm Ethiopian hospitality.
The very first time I met Firiehiwot was in December 2017, at the all-female flight ceremony in Lagos, which I later understood was her initiative. Firiehiwot is young, energetic and most importantly friendly and accessible; I'm sure Ethiopian Airlines Nigeria will record immense growth under her leadership.
The onboard refreshments got off on a good note with an appetizer of hot chicken pepper soup very well complemented with fresh and soft bread. That was most certainly my first time of trying such a combination, and in truth, my taste buds weren’t disappointed.
Main course meal was a choice of well garnished jollof rice and ‘swallow' which were sumptuous by all culinary standards. Ice cream was the dessert. There was enough to drink in-between and after the meals, including champagne, red wine and cocktails. In fact, Ethiopian Airlines had our gastronomic needs well covered.
There were many highlights of the cruise but the most remarkable was probably when we crossed the ultramodern Lekki Bridge at which point we all stepped out of the boat to catch a glimpse of this beauty. Against the backdrop of the dark night sky, the Lekki Bridge provided us a perfect scenic and picturesque background for some photo shoot sessions, and we did take full advantage of it.
The Lekki Bridge is very visually attractive, especially at night. Constructed by Julius Berger Nigeria and commissioned on 29 May 2013, the Lekki-Ikoyi Link Bridge is a 1.36 km cable-stayed bridge, linking Lekki Phase 1 with Ikoyi.
Crossing the Five Cowries Creek, Lekki bridge is the first cable-stayed bridge in Nigeria, it has a 9-metre headroom above water level to allow unrestricted flow of maritime traffic. The boat cruise saw us traverse the length of the Five Cowries Creek laced with luxurious neighbourhoods on both sides.
Other highlights of the cruise included a dancing competition the winner of which went home with an all expense trip to the Seychelles courtesy of Ethiopian Airlines. In case you are wondering, the winner of the dancing competition wasn't me. Well, if the DJ had played 'Atiliogu' or 'Igbaeze', I would probably have won the dancing competition. Anyway, yours truly got a beautiful gift pack from Ethiopian Airlines just like every other guest.
After almost 2 hours of unending excitement of a crescendic magnitude, Captain Omotoya docked the boat at about 9:45 pm sadly, bringing the evening excitement to an end. It was an evening of less talk and more fun and I can almost certainly say that the boat cruise is the most exciting adventure I have ever had.
The boat cruise was facilitated by Jedidah Promotions headed by Mr Ikechi Uko, the giant of African travel and tourism. And just so you know, I am absolutely ready for another boat cruise.
Ethiopian Airlines is Africa’s largest airline with services to more than 100 destinations on 5 continents. It flies to 5 destinations in Nigeria including Lagos, Abuja, Enugu, Kaduna and Kano.