Looking for a new way to take our holiday, we decided to try cruising. Using the many sites dedicated to providing all the information anyone could ever need about the subject, we found a suitable Itinerary on Thomson’s Majesty. The ... Read More
Looking for a new way to take our holiday, we decided to try cruising. Using the many sites dedicated to providing all the information anyone could ever need about the subject, we found a suitable Itinerary on Thomson’s Majesty. The cruise is called the Colourful Coasts, and, as we wanted to revisit the site of our honeymoon, Madeira, whilst seeing more of the islands that go to make up the Canaries, another location we had long wanted to visit, fully met the bill.
With good weather forecast for the week in mid-march, we flew from Gatwick to Tenerife, a 5 hour flight due to the French air traffic control strike. On the way back, although we left almost an hour late, heavy tail wins meant we arrived on time at a very cold Gatwick, where we then had to wait for coaches to arrive to take us to the Terminal. We estimated that we spent an extra 2 – 3 hours travelling to and from Tenerife.
On first impressions, and forewarned from the many reviews we read, the ship looked slightly past it’s best, with at least 2 other previous names visible on its proud bows. Immediately, though, it was obvious that a) the ship was continually cleaned and painted, with cabin widows being washed dialy and b) hygiene was paramount. In fact the number of times we saw cabin staff cleaning the main stair rails almost matched the large number of alcohol hand dispensers that are placed at all the requisite locations to protect the guest from the dread norovirus.
The boat initially seems very large, with many narrow corridors and effectively 7 floors, accessible through 3 main staircases and lifts causing us some confusion as to where to find food, drinks and entertainment, but by the 3rd day we had a good mental map of the layout.
Food was plentiful and especially good in the Bistro. If you are lucky enough to be celebrating a special date, then let them know and look out for one of the best “Staff” bands we have had the honour to serenaded by. The buffet food provided throughout the day is acceptable and offers some variation day to day. We did find however, that the Chef’s stations, where food was prepared freshly as you waited, provided a much better alternative and I would recommend the omelettes. Oh yes, and the scones; surprisingly, I had the best scones I have ever had as part of the afternoon tea offering.
The waiter service restaurants provide a good quality meal, with some variation on the menu. It is restricted for none meat eaters and some improvisation was required; though the waiters and kitchen where always happy to oblige. One of the main memories from our trip were the happy, smiling, competent waiters that made dining always fun and very enjoyable. These restaurants offer a Share or No share option, with sharing meaning that you could sit with 2 to 6 other passengers. The No share option meant that you had a wait sometimes for a table, which were not always in the best position.
As we made the best of all the available excursions organised before sailing, we were tucked up in the very comfortable beds long before the main entertainment got underway. If the promised entertainment is one of your main reasons for going on a cruise, please check out the reviews elsewhere to see what others think of it. We found that the Royal Observatory was always a quiet oasis from the hurly burly of the pool and upper decks; both of which were usually packed due to the mostly fantastic sunny weather. In the evening, the entertainment in this bar was quiet and suited to a relaxing cocktail (a different special every day) before turning in.
The Cabin was small, with the ensuite even smaller. The maids look after the rooms as well as any good hotel. The shower is hot and powerful. The toilets take a little getting used to and in our case became a little temperamental at one point. The ship’s plumbers resolved the problems quickly, though reception needed a couple of reminders on one occasion.
A few other points to note (some specific to when we sailed)
Cell phones are usable pretty much all the time, but check the charges carefully,
As with shares, ships can go up and down, a lot, as we found during a 24 hour storm, so take suitable anti seasickness medicines. It is said that if you are susceptible, then getting a cabin near the centre of the boat and on a lower deck may reduce the amount of movement during these rough passages,
The itinerary can change at short notice, in our case the storm meant that the sail to the African port was cancelled, giving everyone an extra day in Madeira (no bad thing)
Internet access is available on the boat in some locations but not cheap, again check charges. A number of the ports had free wifi available in the embarkation halls, as do a lot of the bars in the towns visited,
The guides on the three excursions we took where all local, spoke good English and were extremely knowledgeable about their respective islands, often bringing a very different historical view with some good humour thrown in,
There are very few bars showing British sports within walking distance of the ports, we found TripAdvisor invaluable in helping us find somewhere to watch the 6 nations games,
If you are lucky you will see dolphins and wandering seabirds from the ship as it sails, keep an eye out over the front of the boat. Read Less